1) Do I need an attorney in order to file a claim with the Veterans Administration?
No. To initiate a claim with the Veterans Administration (VA) is fairly easy. All you have to do is contact the local regional office and put in for a claim. Most counties have a Veteran Service Officer who can assist in filling out any paperwork, and many of the service organizations provide representatives for helping to fill out forms. Finally the VA has made it easier to apply for benefits electronically (online).
2) Why would I need an attorney to get benefits from the VA?
If the VA denies your claim, or you are dissatisfied with any aspect of a decision the VA made (the percentage of disability, the effective date of the disability), under VA rules and regulations you can then hire an attorney to file an appeal to obtain the benefits that you seek.
3) How much does it cost to hire an attorney and are there other costs besides attorney fees?
Attorney fees are contingent upon a successful resolution of your appeal and are tied to a percentage of back benefits obtained (usually 20%). There may be other costs involved (i.e. doctors reports, medical reports), however our office discusses with our clients prior to those costs incurring, and no costs are incurred without prior consent of the client.
4) How long will it take to obtain a favorable decision from the VA?
Each case is unique depending upon the type of issue involved, however as a general rule, the VA has a significant backlog of cases and currently an appeal can take anywhere from 14-24 months. However cases can take longer if they have to be appealed to the Board of Veterans Appeals in Washington DC, or to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington DC.
5) Do I have to go to the Regional Office for a hearing on my appeal?
Under VA rules and regulations, veterans are entitled to a hearing on a number of issues concerning their cases. However, a hearing is not mandatory prior to issuing a decision. With current technology, the VA has begun the process of setting up video conferencing hearings with the Regional Office via VA medical centers throughout that Regional Offices state or area. Our office works with our clients to determine whether or not a hearing would be desirable, and if so, prepare our client for the hearing.
6) I do not live in Southern Oregon, or, I do not even live in Oregon. Can your office still represent me?
Yes. Although the majority of my clients are in Southern Oregon, I have represented veterans throughout the entire country and in the Philippines.