Richard Paul
Law Firm
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Richard Paul Law Firm, LLC
Post Office Box 2380  
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina  29465


Making a Veterans Benefit Claim

Making a Veterans Claim                

Congress designed the veterans’ claim process to be veterans’ friendly.  As President Lincoln said the purpose of the DVA is "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” There is no time limit on when a claim can be brought.  Congress recognized that, sometimes, an event that occurred in service may take many years to cause a disability.  In these cases, the veteran is entitled to bring a claim no matter how long it has been since he got out of the service.

Just as important, a veteran has the right to reopen a claim that has already been denied by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  In order to get another chance at proving his claim, all the veteran needs to do is produce new and material evidence showing that his claim should be granted.

When to use a lawyer

Under the new law in 2007 allowing veteran’s to hire lawyers for representation, 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.

Selecting a lawyer

Veteran’s law is different from any other type of state or federal administrative law.  The Department of Veteran’s Affairs only allows those lawyers who have successfully applied for accreditation to represent veterans in the Agency.

Here is a checklist that you should use in interviewing a lawyer for your veteran’s claim:

1.     How long has the attorney been practicing veteran’s law?

The Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims was founded in 1988.  Private Attorneys were granted a much broader right to practice in the Agency– before the Regional Office and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals– in 2007.  You should look for a law firm that has lawyers who practice both in the Agency and before the Court.

2.     Is the attorney admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims.

The CAVC is the court that considers appeals from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  Work before this court is a major part of the work of a veteran’s attorney.  Your attorney should have this qualification.

3.     Is the attorney accredited by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs?

In 2007, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs began accrediting attorneys to work before the Regional Offices and the Board of Veteran’s Appeals.  An attorney cannot represent you in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs without this qualification.

Richard J. Paul Law Firm

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