Should I Get a VA Disability Lawyer?

by Nov 30, 2018Disability Benefits

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Wondering if you should get a VA disability lawyer? You are not required to have a lawyer to file a VA disability appeal. But hiring a disability attorney offers several benefits. A VA disability lawyer works exclusively for you, using their knowledge, experience, and resources to help you collect evidence and put forward the strongest possible disability appeal.

VA disability lawyers also do not get paid until you recover compensation. So there is no out-of-pocket cost or financial risk involved in hiring one. The VA disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group offer a free consultation to go over your appeal and explain how they can help. There is no risk or obligation. To speak with a member of our staff, call 865-566-0800 today.

VA Disability Attorney Versus Filing Your Own Appeal

If the VA declines your disability claim, it will notify you by mail, at which point you may appeal the decision by filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). After submitting this notice, you can choose to go through with the appeals process on your own, hire a VA disability lawyer, or work with a non-attorney advocate.

By doing it yourself, you risk running into the same pitfalls that resulted in your original claim getting denied. That is, you may have shortcomings in your application that you do not recognize. However, an accomplished attorney who has fought many VA disability appeals would notice mistakes and help you fix them.

A VA disability lawyer works directly for you and gets paid only when you win your appeal. So their incentive for a successful outcome is strong.

VA Disability Attorney vs. Non-Attorney Advocate

A non-attorney advocate, also known as an accredited representative, is someone who has completed a VA training program and been certified to help veterans with their disability applications. Through their training, they gain a cursory understanding of the VA system and appeals process, but their knowledge likely lacks the depth of an attorney who focuses on VA disability law.

Some veterans hire non-attorney advocates instead of VA disability lawyers in an effort to save money. But this is myth. Non-attorney advocates charge similar, if not identical fees to attorneys, and you get less for your money. A lawyer has more education, more training, and is held to much higher professional standards than a non-attorney advocate.

A VA disability lawyer also has a fiduciary responsibility to you, which is a legal obligation to act in your best interest, while an accredited representative does not. And again, you do not pay a VA disability lawyer anything until you win your appeal.

How VA Disability Lawyers Get Paid

If your VA disability lawyer does not charge an out-of-pocket fee, how do they get paid? The answer is, once you win your appeal and receive a grant of VA disability benefits, your lawyer takes a percentage of your back pay.

Your back pay is the lump sum payment you receive covering the period from when you applied for benefits and when you got approved. If your benefits are for $2,000 per month and you waited five months for approval, your back pay would be $10,000.

Your VA disability lawyer takes a fixed percentage of this back pay. That is all they receive. Once you start collecting monthly VA disability checks (the very next month after receiving an approval notice), the payments are 100% yours.

How Your Lawyer Collects a Percentage of Your Back Pay

There are two ways your lawyer can receive their fee. The first is that the VA pays your lawyer directly at the same time it pays you. With this option, you would give your authorization ahead of time. Once the VA approves your appeal and calculates your back pay, it would mail out two checks: one to you, and one to your attorney for their contingency fee.

The second option is for you to pay your attorney after receiving your back paycheck. If you choose this option, your attorney will probably have you sign a contract promising to pay the agreed-upon percentage within a certain number of days.

What Percentage Does Your VA Disability Lawyer Take

If you get a VA disability lawyer, you can negotiate a fee, though most reputable attorneys charge close to the same percentage. VA will not split the payment when the attorney’s fee is greater than 20% of the back-pay award. It does not allow any fees in excess of one-third.

Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free VA Disability Case Evaluation

The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group want to help you with your VA disability appeal. We offer a free case evaluation and do not get paid until you are granted disability benefits. To speak with a member of our team today, call 865-566-0800.