When to use a lawyer
Under the new law allowing veteran’s to hire lawyers in the Regional Office, the veteran cannot enter into a fee contract with a lawyer until the Regional Office has denied a claim for the first time. This means that, generally, the veterans should file the claim initially by themselves or with a veteran service officer. The VA is required by law to assist the veteran in proving the claim and, if the claim is granted, the veteran should never have to hire a lawyer.
Our experience is that initial claims are not always granted. Furthermore, even when an initial claim is granted there are other issues worth having an attorney review– like effective date and rating. The workload of the Regional Offices is so great that they just do not have the time or resources to carefully consider all aspects of the claims that get filed.
We tell our clients that they should contact a lawyer about their case as soon as they get the first Rating Decision on their claim. Once the Regional Office issues the Rating Decision, the veteran can contract with a lawyer. Do not delay! Once you get a rating decision, contact our office right away.