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Nvlsp (National Veterans Legal Services Program)


whip2482
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Question

Hello everyone,

I am new to this site, so I appreciate the time I have to talk with some very knowledgeable people.

My first question is:

Has anyone had any encounters with NVLSP? If so, was your claim successful?

I was contacted last week about a settlement they want to help me with and I am a little skeptical since they contacted me and I had never heard of them. The said they received my claim from the DAV and work on behalf of the veteran through the DAV. All services are pro bono and I have no financial responsibility win or lose.

Thanks for any info you can give me.

I look forward to hearing some good news.

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Yes, I had them represent me. The fact that they contacted you probably means:

Pros:

1. You had a recent denial at the BVA

2. NVLSP identified what they refer as "errors" at the BVA that they can easily win.

3. They will represent you at no cost to you.

You were probably referred to them by the DAV. They can help you, but, again, you get what you pay for, tho its much better than just going with a VSO. They probably found something incorrect, such as an inadequate "reasons and bases" for decision, or something like that. They only want cases they KNOW they can win, but that does not necessarily mean its good for the VEt. They are experts and wrote the VBM.

Cons:

Dont expect them to go to bat for you with anything except the most winnable cases, and, even then, you will probably be pressured to "settle" because that means they collect fees and, well you may not get much. They dont really seem to want to go to court.

Dont expect a large settlement.

If you can afford another attorney, then that is probably best. They talked me into settling for almost nothing and that put a "w" in their column but I have to now go back and get back on the hamster wheel to really get what they should have fought for me, but wont, because there was a higher chance they would lose. They are intent at keeping their "w" ratio very high, even at the expense of Veterans.

The good news is that, if your claim is accepted by NVLSP, you have about a 90 percent chance of a win. (But, you would likely get a lot more from a more aggressive law firm, as NVLSP is not that aggressive..they only want "sure" wins, and they will only fight for that one thing..not the rest of it.

Edited by broncovet
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From what I have been told by them and signed documents, they are only paid by the DAV and VA. No compensation is deducted from the money recovered

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@broncovet:

What kind of time frame am I looking at? They said 4-6 months...is that a realistic expectation?

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I can not intelligently answer a "time frame" without knowing more. If you recently signed up with NVLSP and you had a BVA (recent) denial, my experience has been:

The NVLSP will file with the CAVC in your behalf..some sort of appeal, but only AFTER they have agreed to your case and you have signed and returned POA.

After this happens, and your case reaches CAVC you will be assigned a "docket number". The CAVC "really does" go by docket number and does not make up stuff like "some claims are more complex and take more time", like the VARO does. So, your claim will be done in docket number order with the exception of circumstances where the CAVC grants a need based "advance on the docket".

If you have no advance on the docket, and you have a docket number, then you wait.

In probably 6-12 months (you can check on the CAVC site to see what docket number cases they are on, then do the math), you may get some movement.

CAVC cases are "single judge", "panel" or "en banc"...If yours is an "en banc" then there is some legal precedent the CAVC thinks warrants every judge to hear and decide..kind of like a jury. The more judges...the longer it takes.

Ok, so, often the government will "settle" and offer you a settlement. Expect to be pressured into accepting the settlement by you NVLSP lawyer..it means he gets paid, but you may/may not. If its a remand, (often) then you may get 0, as your claim could still be denied by BVA./RO after remand.

Now, its back to BVA, and after the BVA decides it again (after instructions from CAVC), its back to the RO. The RO will send you an "implementing decision", and, if everything goes well, then you get your retro. Time frame for all this: Possibly less than a year, but not likely. More likely, 1-3 years, reminding you the VA delays your case at every stage of the game.

All this said, listen to your NVLSP lawyer, he knows way more about your case than you do, but remember, he is guessing also.

If you lose a "single judge" decision, the NVLSP can request a panel decision or even EN Banc (rare).

If CAVC thinks your case is straight forward, then you can likely expect a single judge decision (likely) that wont be "precedential". This means you are probably not "plowing new ground", and the mere fact NVLSP is representing you, this probably means your are not doing anything different than established case law. They dont like to take chances "plowing new ground"...legally. They just want to generate attorney fees and then keep their "w" very high. Its like the NFL. If there is 30 seconds left, and they are ahead 3 points, dont expect them to pass. They kneel on the ball every single time.

Edited by broncovet
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NVLSP refers court work to accredited VA attorneys who work the case at the Veterans Court. Some of the attorneys are top notch, others are brand new. Some have years of experience, some have minutes of training.

NVLSP will give them a summary of your appeal, and in my experience, they are pretty good. However I have seen a couple pro bono attorneys lose cases that I think should have been won because they were too scared to vary from the script.

NO ATTORNEY that works at the Veterans Court should charge you. If we substantially prevail (which 76% of the time means a remand, and less than 10% of the time means an outright win), we are paid by the VA from the Equal Access to Justice Fund.

My advice? Talk to at least 3 different Veterans Court attorneys before you consider hiring one. There are a LOT of good - and free - options.

Nothing wrong with NVLSP...just saying that they aren't actually your attorney, they just typically farm it out to attorneys in their network.

You have choices. Here's some links from the Veterans Law Blog.....

8 Things Veterans Should Know about the Veterans Court.

Choosing the Right VA Disability Attorney Means Knowing What Questions to Ask.

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