Will hiring a representative slow down my VA benefits case?
No. In fact, the VA’s own Director of Compensation and Pension recently stated that hiring a representative can help cases move quicker. A veterans disability representative knows the type of evidence the VA is looking for and can spot issues that are slowing down cases.
Will hiring a veteran disability representative increase my chances of winning?
While we can’t guarantee success, in 2013 the VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals suggests that using a representative increases the chance of winning an appeal compared to using Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other representatives, or not using a representative at all. (Board of Veterans’ Appeals Report of the Chairman Fiscal Year 2013).
Will hiring a representative speed up my veteran’s disability case?
While an experienced representative cannot speed up the appeal process itself, they can help prevent delays from occurring. Many cases are denied because files are incomplete and claimants are unaware of the legal standards needed to win. Working with a representative ensures documents are sent timely to the correct people, requests for information are responded to quickly, and the correct evidence is submitted to the VA. In extreme cases of inaction by the VA, a representative can even file petitions with the Court of Veterans Appeals.
Does the VA make mistakes in its decisions?
As recently as 2012, the VA’s Inspector General, the auditing arm of the VA, reported that in the Cleveland VA Regional Office alone 26% of veterans disability claims were inaccurately processed. That’s 1 in 4 that were incorrectly decided.
Do Iraq and Afghanistan veterans get priority for VA disability claims?
No. However, the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been filing more and more claims as expected and this is causing an increase in the backlog of claims and appeals.
Can veterans’ disability representatives delay cases to increase their fees?
No. The VA has created an absurdly long appeal system and has made it worse by allowing a backlog of claims of nearly 1 million. The only group motivated to slow down the case is the VA since it can delay the payment of money. Moreover, representatives have ethical rules prohibiting this conduct and are monitored by the VA and bar associations to prevent it.
Since VA appeals take a long time should I just re-file a new disability claim?
If a veteran withdraws the appeal and re-files a new claim, the effective date of the previous claim will change to the date of the most recent claim, which can cause issues with back pay. Additionally, if a veteran files a new claim, the evidentiary burden on the veteran increases, requiring them to present new and material evidence and cannot rely on the evidence in the earlier claim or appeal.