Navigating the VA Claims Landscape: Why Accredited Representation Matters

 Posted on December 01, 2023 in Uncategorized

In recent years, the surge of companies offering assistance to veterans with VA claims, especially in the wake of Camp Lejeune and 3M cases, has been hard to ignore. However, a significant portion of these companies operate without accreditation, engaging in illegal and predatory practices. Let's delve into the reasons why steering clear of unaccredited representatives is crucial:

  1. Representation Matters

While some unaccredited companies claim to offer "coaching" or act as "medical consultants," providing specific advice on VA claims constitutes representation. According to the VA's Code of Federal Regulations, only accredited individuals can assist in preparing, presenting, and prosecuting claims for benefits. The Office of General Counsel emphasizes that giving specific advice without accreditation violates federal regulations.

  1. Illegal Charging Practices

Unaccredited companies often unlawfully charge veterans for their services. The Code of Federal Regulations expressly states that only accredited agents and attorneys are authorized to receive fees for representation services. Accredited representatives follow strict rules, including limitations on charging fees for new claims and a cap on reasonable fees (often a contingency fee). In contrast, some unaccredited companies charge exorbitant amounts, sometimes multiple times a veteran's back payment, without adhering to ethical standards.

  1. No Adherence to VA Standards

VA-accredited attorneys and agents must undergo continuing legal education on VA topics to stay abreast of law changes. Unaccredited representatives are not held to the same standards, potentially leaving claimants in the hands of individuals without updated knowledge of VA law. Accredited representatives must adhere to ethical standards set by the VA, ensuring accountability.

  1. Subpar Services

Many unaccredited companies fall short in arguing the law effectively. While they may guide veterans in gathering evidence, they often lack the nuanced legal knowledge required to make compelling legal arguments. Additionally, they may rely on recycled medical opinions without addressing the legal intricacies of a claim.

  1. Lack of Resources

Accredited representatives have access to essential VA resources, including electronic access to veterans' VA and military files. Unaccredited representatives face a disadvantage when trying to assist without these critical resources.

In conclusion, the choice between accredited and unaccredited representation can significantly impact the success of your VA claim. While some may choose the DIY route or opt for a VSO (Veteran Service Officer) for straightforward claims, seeking an accredited representative with significant experience in VA law is crucial for more complex cases. Do your homework and choose wisely to ensure you have the support and expertise needed to navigate the VA claims process successfully

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