Since it takes so long to get approved for VA disability, make sure you don’t waste any time. Hire an experienced VA lawyer like Woods and Woods from the beginning.
Around 18.8 million people in the United States of America are veterans. However, approximately 4.7 million or 25 percent of them have a service-connected disability.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA, offers tax-free compensation to all veterans who have been injured or inflicted with any medical conditions while serving in the military.
If you or someone you know is in a situation like this, it will help to hire a qualified VA disability lawyer to give your claim a better chance at getting approved. However, to get the most out of having legal representation and assistance, you need to hire the right attorney for the job.
What Are the Ten Things to Look for In a VA Disability Attorney?
- What Does a VA Disability Lawyer Do?
- 1. Look for the VA Accreditation
- 2. Field of Legal Expertise
- 3. Reputation and References
- 4. Pay Attention to the Lawyer’s Assessment
- 5. Transparency and Trust
- 6. Your Budget and Legal Fees
- 7. Representation Before the Court of Appeals for Veterans
- 8. Does It Matter to Have a VA Disability Lawyer Near Me?
- 9. Ability to Communicate
- 10. Level of Professionalism
- Find the Right Attorney for Your Disability Claim
What Does a VA Disability Lawyer Do?
Applying directly through the VA can be a tedious process. A VA disability lawyer with experience in the field can help you navigate this tiresome process to help you get the disability benefits you are entitled to.
Additionally, if your claim was denied after filing on your own or after working with a veterans service organization (VSO), it is an especially good idea for you to hire an attorney. A qualified attorney helps you:
- Gather evidence that supports your claim and improves your chances of getting approved
- Files and prepares important paperwork necessary for you to get your benefits
- Helps you establish a strong medical claim through a network of medical professionals
- Writes briefs, prepares documents, and represents you in court when necessary
- Advocates for your rights and interests as a veteran
Now that you’re familiar with what you can expect a VA disability lawyer to do for you, it’s time to look at the other considerations of hiring the right attorney.
1. Look for the VA Accreditation
The very first thing you should do is ask a potential lawyer if they are VA accredited.
To be VA accredited means to be authorized and recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as attorneys or other professionals who are capable of assisting veterans or service members with their disability claims.
This accreditation serves the purpose of ensuring a minimum standard of expertise among professionals offering services to veterans. If someone does not have the necessary accreditations as provided by the VA, they will not be permitted to represent your claim.
Be sure to check the Department of Veterans Affairs’ database, where they keep a record of all accredited attorneys to see if the lawyers you are considering have the credentials they say they have. All of the Woods and Woods lawyers are VA accredited.
2. Field of Legal Expertise
Next, it’s time to take a look at your lawyer’s area of expertise. It is extremely important that you choose a lawyer who is well-versed in veteran and disability law.
Here are some questions you can ask a potential lawyer, to get a decent idea of what they practice and for how long they’ve been practicing in that particular field:
- How long have you been assisting clients with veteran law or disability claims?
- Where did you get your training?
- What is your field of expertise?
- Have you handled cases like mine before?
- How long do these cases generally take?
- Have you had success in these types of cases before?
- Can you help me get an independent medical exam?
Once you’ve asked your questions, it’s time to pay attention to what your lawyer is saying. This will give you a general idea of what to expect, and how they’re likely to go about your case. If you hear something that doesn’t sound right, remember to fact-check this when you get home.
Also, remember that these are questions you should ask during the initial consultation. If you are not happy with the answers you’ve received, you can always look for a different lawyer.
Give yourself time to think over the meeting and decide whether or not you’re happy with how it went. Call our case managers back with any questions you have during your calls.
You don’t have to use a Veteran’s compensation lawyer that is nearby. We can work with you over the phone and apply or appeal electronically.
3. Reputation and References
If the lawyer or law firm has a website, be sure to look through it and read any reviews or testimonials that you may find. Additionally, you can also do a quick Google search to see if you find other relevant reviews on the internet. Check out their Facebook page to see what their past clients are saying about them and see how fast they respond.
While some lawyers choose to advertise their services, it is far more valuable to ask clients about their experiences. If you know someone who has appointed the same lawyer before, talk to them about their interactions to get a better idea of what to expect.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
4. Pay Attention to the Lawyer’s Assessment
After your first consultation, you will get a full assessment of your case from our team. Your lawyer must explain to you the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and help you identify whether you are eligible for disability as a veteran.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
Additionally, they must also explain the application process for your claim, the various disability options available to you as a veteran, and the medical information necessary to strengthen your case.
In addition to you asking them questions, they must also ask you the right questions about your case. When you make your free call to our office, we’ll ask you a lot of questions to make sure we get the most money you are eligible to get!
Make sure they outline the probabilities and expectations of your claim to you in as much detail as possible. This includes information about the highest possible disability rating available to you, the plan of action if you do not get approved, and the dates and milestones for your application.
Having a realistic idea of what to expect is important for your peace of mind, and an important consideration while choosing a lawyer. Be wary of VA disability attorneys who make tall claims and outlandish promises.
5. Transparency and Trust
Your lawyer must be transparent with you regarding all aspects of your case. That’s why it is absolutely necessary that you find an attorney who you can trust completely.
Trust is what will allow you to communicate freely and comfortably with your lawyer, and vice-versa. Talk to your lawyer about regular updates, and what to do during an emergency.
6. Your Budget and Legal Fees
One of the more important considerations while choosing your VA disability lawyer is their legal fees, and how much you’re willing to spend on a lawyer.
Some attorneys allow for a free consultation where your claim will be evaluated by a qualified attorney. Make the most of this option and ask as many questions as you can. Some attorneys may also allow room for negotiation depending on your claim and the circumstances surrounding your case.
Remember to ask for a complete breakdown of the lawyer’s services and charges accordingly. You want to ensure that you know exactly what services you are paying for to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on. This includes talking about their policy on discharge upgrades, and the cost of representing you in the CAVC in case your claim gets denied.
We will mail all of these necessary materials out to you after your first phone call. You’ll have time to look them over and consult with any family members you want to have involved in your claim. As soon as you mail back your postage-paid packet, we’ll get started on your case.
If you feel like an attorney is over-charging you for their services, you can consider taking this up with the VA.
This leads us to the next consideration.
7. Representation Before the Court of Appeals for Veterans
If you receive a letter of denial from the Department of Veterans Affairs, know that you still have the option to appeal. To prepare for this outcome, you must ask your attorney whether they have the ability to represent you before the court of appeals for veterans or the CAVC, where you will have to file your appeal.
This is a Federal court in Washington D.C that is responsible for deciding all appeals put forth by unsuccessful veteran disability claimants.
Talk to them about their experience in presenting before the CAVC or even the U.S Court of Appeals to make they are equipped to handling your case in case things go wrong. If they are unable to represent you, you may have to look for a different VA disability lawyer upon rejection.
This would involve going through the whole process of finding an appropriate lawyer again. This is not ideal given that you have only a specific period of time after rejection to file an appeal. You would not want to waste any additional time appointing a new lawyer.
8. Does It Matter to Have a VA Disability Lawyer Near Me?
We have been helping veterans all over the country (and even in Germany, Guam, and Japan) for years. When everything went online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA updated a lot of its systems to continue serving veterans.
Since your application, appeals, and almost all of your evidence is submitted electronically, you don’t need to make any in-person appearances before the VA or have a nearby VA disability lawyer. We can meet with you over the phone in the comfort of your own home, and the meetings take a lot less time.
In the past, Veterans had to drive or get a ride to a VA clinic and go through their exams, case reviews, lawyer meetings, and more in person. Now we function almost exclusively remotely.
We help hundreds of veterans a week from at least 8 different time zones and all 50 states.
9. Ability to Communicate
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a skill. You may not be a legal professional, but it is important that your lawyer explain everything to you in a way that is easy to understand. The true measure of a person’s expertise is their ability to explain complicated concepts simply.
A good lawyer must be patient, knowledgeable, and be able to give you the information you want regarding your claim. If you feel like you are always in the dark, and that your lawyer is not responding to your messages or calls in a timely fashion, call us.
Similarly, if are not willing to respond to your concerns or is using vague language when asked a direct question, this should also be considered a potential red flag against your attorney.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
10. Level of Professionalism
Now you may have found a competent and qualified attorney for your claim, but you also need a professional one who you can trust to do their job well. Here are some qualities that define a professional attorney:
- The ability to use resources effectively, economically, and efficiently
- Ensuring timely updates regarding your claim
- Making sure you have all the necessary information you need to make an educated decision
- Putting your interests first at all times
- Addressing your concerns patiently and thoroughly
- Being punctual and well-prepared at all consultations and meetings
- Putting time and effort into finding creative and practical solutions for any problems that arise
It might not be possible to tell if your attorney has every trait listed here during your first interactions, however, if you notice the blatant absence or disregard for any of these qualities, you should mark it down as a red flag.
Find the Right Attorney for Your Disability Claim
A good VA disability lawyer will be accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, specializing in the field of veteran disability claims, and have the professionalism it takes to communicate effectively.
Always make sure to ask a lot of questions during your initial consultation so that you have the satisfaction of choosing an attorney who inspires trust, transparency, and reliability.
At Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of clients with their disability claims, and we can do the same for you. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable lawyers is dedicated to giving veterans excellent legal advice and representation to help them get the compensation they deserve. Get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation today!
When you look at how many VA disability applications have errors and the large percentage that is awarded because they were submitted by accredited VA disability lawyers, you can see that using a lawyer is worth it.
The VA allows accredited VA lawyers to charge up to 30% of the back pay that you are awarded. Other attorneys charge an hourly rate. At Woods and Woods, we don’t charge you anything unless we win your case, at which point we ask for 20% of your backpay to pay our staff. You won’t be charged again. No money will be taken out of your monthly check to pay our fees.