In order to avoid attorneys collecting more in fees than a veteran can afford to pay, there is a rule that fees in VA disability cases must be “reasonable.” In most cases, fees will be considered reasonable if they are based on an hourly rate, or a certain percentage of the benefits that are recovered.
Most VA attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning they are paid with a percentage of the veteran’s back benefits only after a case is won. Fees are considered reasonable at 20 percent of past-due benefits, while fees over 33.3 percent of the benefits are considered unreasonable. As attorneys can charge anywhere from 20 percent to 33.3 percent depending on the case, it is important to know why your attorney is charging you the rate he has quoted you.
These factors can be used to determine whether the fees in your case are reasonable or not:
- The extent and type of services the attorney performs on a claimant’s behalf.
- The complexity of the case.
- The level competence and skill required in the needed services.
- The number of hours spent on the case (excluding any work done before the first Notice of Disagreement).
- The level of review the claim needed before approval and if the attorney was present for each appeal.
- Rates charged by other attorneys for performing similar services.
- Whether the payment of fees is contingent upon the outcome of the case.
Contingency Fees Are the Safest Option for Veterans in Disability Cases
Veterans should be aware that while they will have to pay an attorney’s fees, they should not be expected to produce any money up front. A contingency fee allows a veteran to assume the least amount of risk, since he does not have to pay legal fees if his claim is not approved. At Cuddigan Law, our VA disability attorneys advance all upfront costs and can explain your options at no cost to you. Fill out the short contact form on this page to get started, or click here to read through a free copy of our book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.