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Lawyer Has Agreed To Represent Me At Bva ? About % Of Retro Being Charged


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So excited the first of several lawyer's I contacted agreed to take my case but says he charges 30% of retro?

This amount seems high to me?

I thought 20% was the max rate?

Decisions decisions decisions?

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I believe it is 20%, but if you sign an agreement you may have to fight to get out of it once you get the money. I might look for another lawyer before this guy goes to far. My lawyer is representing me for 20% of retro. That would be retro from 1971 to 2001, so that is a big piece of change, but I have no chance without a lawyer.


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  • HadIt.com Elder

It's actually 20% plus "reasonable expenses" whatever that means.

Most lawyers don't want to mess with the record keeping needed for the reasonable expense documentation.

Just because the VA payment to the lawyer is limited to 20% (of your retro) does not actually prevent the lawyer

from trying to charge more. I'd also verify that the lawyer is on the VA's current "approved" list.

There also is a possibility that the lawyer might collect something under the EAJA.

Edited by Chuck75 (see edit history)
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Here is the actual regulation:


It contains the criteria for anyone charging for representation before the VA and explains how right Chuck is as to additional expenses.

Have you searched under this lawyer's name at the BVA and at the CAVC to see what he/she has won?

Also a lawyer fee can be appealed under some circumstances.

There are 5 conditions that must be met by the lawyer .I handled an appeal like that years ago for a vet. .Dont know the results.

I dont even know if the vet sent the appeal I prepared for him , to the VA.

He was so happy with a low ball award after about 10 years, (which did generate a lot of retro thus the 8 thousand lawyer fee) that he didnt seem to have the energy to even question the low rating.

I had evidence that the lawyer did not meet the five conditions at all. They wanted 8 thousand bucks and didnt even find the veterans nexus in his SMRs. I did. I gave the VA a 'buddy statement ' on that as I had another witness too, his lazy assed Vet rep. I found the vet's BVA case and the nexus IN IT ,minutes before they arrived at my home for my help.The lawyer even wanted a fee for a prior CAVC case the veteran did all by himself years ago and he lost.

When attorney fees are appealed to the VA , VA holds back the fee amount until they decide the appeal.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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tanker...berta brings up some good points..on a lawyer background check also have you explored veteran advocates groups for their opinion on your issues??

best of luck...and keep on trakkin tanker

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  • 1 year later...

TankerJoeo: Just read your 03/13 post. What has transpired since. Did you sign with the 30% Lawyer and if so may I ask why? Back in mid 2013 I was getting itchy regarding 2 NOD DRO Hearing requests, 2010 & 2012. Checked out 3 VA Accredited lawyers, 1 local and 2 off online ads. All 3 quoted 20% of retro + costs (IMO's, filing fees) and probably any other expense that could legally be added.

In the end I decided to rep myself at the DRO Level and if denied I would then hire a Legal Eagle for the BVA. The 20% of retro seemed to be the standard charge. I did read about appeals getting past the BVA and the attorneys being able to get, in some instances, in excess of $50K for leagal fees awarded by the appeals court. I felt certain I would get my denials reversed at the DRO level and didn't spend much time on BVA appeals.

Hope you prevailed on appeal.

Semper Fi


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  • 8 months later...

Before I agree to anything, I would like a detailed plan of gaining service connection/compensation.

Allow him to talk "shop" and then you do a little investigating if he knows what he is spewing.

If everything checks out and you are satisfied with the plan of attack, then hire the attorney.

Always have a complete idea of how attorneys plan to "specifically" address your VA issue.

You are paying for it. You might as well feel good about the whole plan.

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Before I agree to anything, I would like a detailed plan of gaining service connection/compensation.

Allow him to talk "shop" and then you do a little investigating if he knows what he is spewing.

If everything checks out and you are satisfied with the plan of attack, then hire the attorney.

Always have a complete idea of how attorneys plan to "specifically" address your VA issue.

You are paying for it. You might as well feel good about the whole plan.

Not only do I agree I absolutely recommend it. Some of the big boy law dogs change there stance, when they see your case is difficult and won't be worth their allocated time.

Kind of like the saying " You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk"

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Make sure you know THIS:

You wont pay anything now. You only pay if/when you win money and you "get" your back pay (Retro).

Even then, you will likely pay LESS than 30% for 2 reasons:

1. First, you can ask your lawyer to ask the court for EAJA to pay the fees. If you win, the court often awards EAJA fees, so the VA has to pay, not you. EAJA can pay the full amount, partial amount, or none.

2. Next, the COURT has to approve lawyer fees. If the lawyer only put in 2 hours, and you got your retro, then the court normally will only permit the attorney to bill you for 2 hours...not 30 percent. However, often the lawyer will have much much more time invested, but he will have to provide a bill to the court for his hours and the judge looks it over and will reject fees he considers excessive, for the number of hours the attorney worked on your claim and documented the hours.

The bottom line is you pay a MAXIMUM of 30 percent and it will likely be much less, because of the reasons given above. EAJA sometimes foots the whole bill.

You can shop, if you like, to try to find an attorney who will do it for 20%, but then he will charge expenses, and that could work out nearly the same as 30 percent. Lawyers have expenses..sometimes they have to copy your file which can be thousands of pages, they may have Federal express fees, filing fees at the CAVC (50 dollars) etc etc.

Some one said the bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has disappeared. You do whats best for your family, but I suggest "cheapest" is not always the best value. If your attorney is a pro, and charges 30 percent and gets you a hundred grand in retro, and gets the EAJA to pay for it all, then that is much much better than a rookie lawyer who gets you 50 grand and charges you 20 percent plus expenses and botches the EAJA.

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  • 10 months later...

An attorney can charge 30% legally if both parties agree, it's just that the VA will not withhold and pay the fee to the attorney, the veteran will have to pay the attorney when he gets his money. At 20% the VA presumes the fee is reasonable and will withhold that amount from the past due and pay it directly to the attorney.

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If a veteran feels an attorney fee is unreasonable they can appeal it. There is a 5 point criteria for that.

I helped a local vet do that. Many years ago . I guess he made out OK.

He was calling me daily pressuring me about his longstanding claim , after his vet rep asked me to help with it.

Neither his lawyers or even his Vet rep however had read his BVA denial. He was also at the CAVC twice.

He won the claim and I assume the VA found the evidence I gave them persuasive  enough not to pay them either the whole fee or maybe just some of it, otherwise he would have been constantly badgering me again about that.

The regs for that might be here somewhere.

Before the rep brought him here to meet me I had a feeling he didn't have the BVA decision with him...(he did forget it) and I managed to find it at the BVA web site with the limited info I had to search for it with.

The first paragraph of the decision contained a medical term that was the key to his award.

That medical term was how I got him the award. Of course I had to do a lot of research on the term and then convince his doctor that he needed to prepare a second IMO because the first one would not fly. After the private doc read my lay medical opinion and the vet's evidence, (and after some problem with me -he was angry because I got a healthgrade rundown on him to prove his credentials were fantastic )

his IMO garnered the award. He was very well known as an diabetes expert but the VA needed to have that and he would not do a Curriculum Vitae so I had to prove it via heathgrades.

One of the biggest problems I see here and elsewhere, and with VA is that people do not read well anymore.

If I skim over something I read, I can easily make an error in what I think it says.

I often read questions here many times. And it pays to pour over every single thing in your decisions, your C files, and your med recs....but ofyten better to have a real doctor do that if there is possibility you will need an IMO.




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correction His evidence got him the award.

All I did was read and research the claim , the SMRs and all the other VA med rec stuff etc etc that his vet rep sure would not take the time to do

 and I prepared it all for his IMO doc.



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  • Moderator

Again, thanks for that valuable information Berta.  I read your post and found out your experiences with healthgrades as opposed to the docs CV.  That is great information, as I think the C and P examiner's competence is often a very big deal.  

The VA often hires C and P examiners who are not competent..and they have even admitted to same...but they keep doing it, because it saves money two ways.   First, they get an easy denial as most Vets dont know to challenge the competency of the examiner, and secondly, they save because medical specialists are expensive, as are their medical opinions.  

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Thank you Mike_ S ,we all need to Keep going and make sure we can outlive the bastards!

Broncovet, I didn't need any healthgrades for my opinions from Dr Bash.....and he provided a long CV anyhow...over 9 pages long I think.

But when VA denied my 1151 HBP claim last year, I asked them to CUE themselves real fast (and they did) because they had ignored an IMO from the chief cardiologist at VA Central, an opinion prepared for the OGC in 1997.

Since the veteran was still dead, her opinion was still relevant.

I had a copy of it, as evidence they ignored,  and went to healthgrades to find that this cardio doc not only still worked a specialist for VA in DC, she also had a specialty of HBP in addition to numerous other cardio related areas.

They awarded the CUE after I raised Hell.In mere weeks.

The ROs will actually have the audacity to go against their own doctors.

This cardio VA Central doc's credentials outweighed anything any C & P clown could come up with. I still do not believe their opining 'doctor' was in fact a real doctor at all...Maybe he was, in fact, a clown.



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  • 1 year later...

Just looked it up because of a decision re: my BVA TDIU.  Letter granted attorney fee from date of claim but said would qualify only from NOD which was 2 years later.

It is from the date of benefit allowed to date of decision.  The attorney can charge 20% up to 1/3 but must be able to justify more than 20% by amount of work.  So all you have to do is appeal his award and have him justify it to the CAVA.  If you look at recent CAVA decisions you'll see that most  of them are denials of attorney fees.

Edited by Lemuel
word order (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

I'll be re-reading your first post many times Berta.  I also believe that the biggest problem with VA AOs is they don't read it well enough to decide.  Time given to do a case I presume.  Thus it takes up a lot more time if done right the first time by thoroughly assimilating the evidence, and studying it well before rendering a decision.  In essence kicking the can up the hill instead of down the road. 

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