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Is it legal or illegal to pay for the consultation (guidance) of applying for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefits?

Santa Ana, CA |

I would like to use one of these companies, but there are so many people saying that what they're doing is illegal.

There are companies out there charging people money for the following (not everything is listed):

1. Sending their clients a comprehensive Pre-Filing Package (includes forms and instructions from A to Z)
2. Guiding them through the paperwork process (step by step)
- if the client filled out something wrong, the Case Managers let them know that it’s wrong and fix the errors with them
- informing them verbally and in email which documents are still outstanding (when it was already stated in the Pre-Filing Package)
3. Explaining from A to Z how the paperwork process will be like
4. Having a VA Accredited Claims Agent prepare the application for the client for FREE

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

VA claims are many times a complex nightmare to handle. I am sure that most non-attorney reps do a good job. But many are overworked, and many do not pay attention to details - and if they miss something, it is hard to sue them for malpractice.

You might wish to ask these questions to an attorney who can explain the differences and answer your case specific questions in person. You can find an attorney who will answer questions about veteran benefits at http://www.vetadvocates.org/directory2.html

I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
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The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

I am not familiar with the companies you've referenced, but generally speaking, only accredited representatives may charge fees for representation in the VA Claims process. Additionally, fees may only be charged AFTER the VA has issued an inital decision on the claim, and the veteran has filed a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. Any advice and/or review of the initial claims application would be likely construed by the VA as assistance in applying for VA benefits, for which compensation is specifically not allowed. See 38 C.F.R. 14.636.

Also, please see this link for answers to FAQs regarding compensation for representatives at the VA. http://www.va.gov/ogc/accred_faqs.asp

Disclaimer: Transmission or receipt of information does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Asker

Posted

Thank you so much for your answer! I read the whole thing about who may charge fees, the circumstances under which fees may be charged, exceptions, and fees permitted in the "See 38 C.F.R. 14.636” (Google Search). Please see below of what I found out… the company that I contacted said that they only charge a fixed fee… so is what this company doing really illegal or legal??? I see that agencies cannot charge clients until after a decision has been made if: - a Notice of Disagreement was filed on or before June 19, 2007 - they are a Disinterested Party (not a spouse, child, parent, and/or living with the client - no agreements (ie. Service) were signed or existed between the agency and client - they have no financial interest in the success of the claim - the fees being charged are fixed, hourly rate, a percentage of benefits recovered, or a combination of such bases Factors considered in determining whether fees are reasonable includes the following: - the extent and type of services the representative performed - the complexity of the case - the level of skill and competence required of the representative in giving the services - the amount of time the representative spent on the case - the results the representative achieved, including the amount of any benefits recovered - the level of review to which the claim was taken and the level of review at which the representative was retained - rates charged by other representatives for similar services - and whether, and to what extent, the payment of fees is contingent upon the results achieved

Deanne L. Bonner Simpson

Deanne L. Bonner Simpson

Posted

VA would need to make that determination. You can contact the VA Accreditation department of the VA Office of the General Counsel at (202) 461-7649.

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