One would think you can hire an attorney the minute you realize you don’t have any benefits or compensation that is rightfully deserved, but that’s not quite the case. In order for you to hire an attorney for VA benefits and compensation you must have already applied and received an initial denial. At the time you have received your denial and disagree, you will have the opportunity to respond with a notice of disagreement. A notice of disagreement can just be a letter request for them to re evaluate/reconsider their initial decision written on the VA form 21-0958, in which either can be submitted by you or your newly hired attorney. You don’t always need an attorney however. Allow me to guide you on how the process works!
The process to receiving benefits from the VA begins with filing an initial claim. To file an initial claim you can simply fill out and submit a specific VA form required to apply for benefits to the VA. The forms you must use for the initial application of a claim are the VA form 21-526eZ and VA for 21-526b which can both be found online:
I can see why the thought of initializing your case all on your own with no professional help can be scary, and that’s extremely understandable. In this case we recommend you seek out the assistance of a Veterans Service Officer to assist you with initializing your claim to assure you begin the process properly. The Veteran Service Officers can not only assist in initializing your claim for benefits/compensation but they can also assist or guide you with any veteran related issue. For example they can also assist you with the following:
- Health Care
- Education & Training
- Burial & Survivor
Your local VA center will have a listing of Veteran Service Organizations you can contact for assistance. No you do not have to be a part of these organizations in order to receive assistance. The VA website can also provide this information for you in the case you cannot go in person.
Once you have filed your claim for benefits, and received a decision that you do not agree with, you can then seek out the assistance of an attorney. Why do you have to wait to receive a denial before being allowed to hire an attorney you ask? By law attorneys are not allowed to charge a fee for assisting prior to a notice of disagreement being filed.
You may ask, why hire an attorney if a VSO can assist you with your claim free of charge? This is a valid question. Ultimately, the decision is yours. You know your case better than anyone, so only you can decide what is best for your claim in terms of representation. The difference between an attorney and a Veteran Service Officer is simple, an attorney knows the law and what is beneficial for you as a vet. The purpose of a VSO is to assist you the veteran in finding the resources you need when you need them. The benefit of hiring an attorney is having someone who knows the laws in a manner that benefits you while assisting you obtain the compensation you deserve. Read more information on selecting a veterans disability attorney.