As of the 2019 United States Census, there are approximately 18 million recorded U.S. Military veterans living in America. Roughly, 5 million of those veterans receive veteran’s disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The major disparity between those two numbers is in part due to how difficult it can be to maneuver the VA’s bureaucratic system of claims and denials.
Over thirty percent of VA disability claims are denied each year. Of those claims more than half are erroneous denials. Enlisting the help of a trained veterans’ rights attorney can make navigating the VA’s systems much easier. Whether you’re filing an initial claim or making an appeal, an attorney that’s well versed in veterans benefits will be a boon to your case.
Here are three important things to look for when finding an attorney to help with your veterans’ benefits claim.
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This may seem obvious, but it’s important to find a firm that specializes in working with veterans. Not just a firm that takes veterans cases, but one that has built their career on working with vets and the VA.
The VA is a complex organization with specific processes, procedures, and even definitions. For instance, a migraine that causes you to need to lay down should be referred to as a migraine that causes prostrating attacks or complete prostration. An attorney that dabbles in VA disability claims alongside other types of law may not know that. This is just one small example of the specificity that is required to be sure your lawyer gets you the most out of your disability claim.
Look for a firm that goes out of its way to hire veterans. A firm that hires veterans has internal knowledge of what it’s like to be subject to the VA’s bureaucracy. When working with a firm like Berry Law — that not only employs veterans but was built by them — you know you’re dealing with professionals who understand your service experience and all that being a vet entails. Working with a lawyer that’s also a veteran means they not only understand the legal side, but also the human side. It also shows that the firm is committed to honoring veterans, not just profiting off of them.
Never go with a firm just because they specialize in working with veterans and hire veterans to their team. Those things are not to be taken for granted, but you should also choose a lawyer that you work well with, someone you can trust.
Any lawyer worth your time will provide you with an assessment of your case after a few meetings. Take the opportunity to feel out how comfortable you are with the lawyer. Have they explained the strengths and weaknesses of your case? Do they have a plan to strengthen your case based in-process and fact-finding? When you ask a question do they take the time to explain it properly? Are they asking you questions that could be useful to your claim?
This is your chance to understand what working with this lawyer would be like, and what they expect from you and your claim. Beware of anyone whose promises seem unattainable or who doesn’t present you with a concrete plan to strengthen your claim. Cross off anyone who has their paralegal or assistant present their assessment to you.
By taking the time to research attorneys who are trained in veterans affairs, and whose firms are committed to hiring and serving vets you’ll be able to narrow your search down to qualified VA disability attorneys. Don’t go with the first firm you interview, instead listen to several assessments and find the lawyer you work best with. So you know you’re getting an attorney who’s ready to help you.