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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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63Charlie

Why pay an attorney......

Question

........when I'm the one battling the VA from the trenches?

The only thing my attorney has filed with the VA is the letter indicating appointment as my attorney.

So.... I fired him.

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Well, its your life.  It reminds me of building counter tops.  Ameteurs start by spreading glue and glueing the surface top, so it looks like they accomplished a lot quickly.  

Pros glue on all the edges, first.  Last is the surface top.  

It looks like they only glued on a few inches of material up until the very last.  However, doing this in the wrong order never makes a nice countertop that will last.  

The attorney needs to read thousands and thousands of documents...and much case law, before he decides upon the best method for you.  Running off half cocked and filing for stuff before he has read and studied this thoroughly wont produce the best results for you.  It takes many, many hours just to read my file..its over 1500 pages.  

You see, we already know most of our file..at least what we remember.  The attorney has not lived your last 10 years with you, and did not go to all your doc appointments with you.  He has to read what the doc said, and sort out what is and is not relevant to your case.  

I recommend you contact the attorney and tell him you made a mistake, welcome back.  Of course you dont have to have a reason to fire him, but all the reasons you hired the attorney for are still present.  It sounds like he is doing a thorough job to me, which is what you need. 

I have had my attorney for about 5 months, and no, the attorney does not send me a copy of every piece of paper he or she files.  I can look on the CAVC website and see what is happening as far as the court.  

The attorney will only get paid so many hours for my case...the VA only permits so many hours.  I want my hours used to help me win, not to educate me in VA law, or to counsel me with my problems.  I have a VA counselor to tell him my troubles to, and, sometimes I blurt them out on hadit.  I think my attorney will be paid about 10 hours of EAJA fees (which I dont have to pay).  

Yes, I want to call my attorney once a week and discuss all my theories of why VA should send me a huge retro check and have her explain why that wont fly.  But that is not productive.   You even see that in the NFL.  The owner hires a coach, then tries to run the team himself.  That is one reason Denver Broncos are doing so well, the owner has Alzheimers, so the coaches make the decisions as the owner has no idea.  So, they dont do things just to make the boss happy.  I will be happy when my attorney wins, and it costs me nothing but eaja fees.  If I need to be told how smart I am, then I can come to hadit and take Tbird to lunch, or go to the chess club and beat their champion.  

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All attorneys are not created equal.

Here are my experiences with attorneys:

I remember consulting with an attorney a few years back when was on the NOD hamster wheel at the VARO. I was very impatient because of the typical "hurry up and wait" with the VA. I expected them to beg to sign me up asap, because they are the experts at this, but that didn't happen. We talked about my claims, they offered good advice (very similar to what I obtained here on hadit), and told me to follow up with them if I was denied at the BVA level. I did what they recommended and won at the VARO level.

I recently reached out to an attorney regarding some potential CUE claims and am putting together a packet for their review. I am not in a hurry and would rather take the time to submit a surgically sharpened claim with a very high chance of winning. They can then work their legalese magic. I realize they specialize in VA claims, probably have a large caseload, and I do not want to waste any of their time. If it takes them a month to notify the VA that they are representing me, I don't mind. However, if I were filing for hardship, I would want help asap, but would have hoped they would set my expectations up front...

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I have filed NODs/appeals on multiple claims.

My "former" VA lawyer's plan was to sit back on my appeals and wait until the VA Regional Office issued a Statement of Claim.

Once the RO gets around to issuing a SOC, an attorney will have to prepare and timely file a "9" in reply.

Then, you wait for another RO review, possibly a SSOC by the RO on your claim, and then hopefully the claim proceeds to either a DRO hearing, or in my case, the BVA.

This can take years.

 

All the while.... time goes by, and the attorney's retro fee is growing larger with each day that passes.

Q :  Why should I wait for the RO to issue a statement of claim when I could get my claim reopened/granted much sooner by presenting new and material evidence?

 

So far, the RO has reopened five of my previously denied claims after I submitted new and material evidence, and I am currently awaiting those decisions.

I am humbly stating what is working best for me with hopes of helping others, not bragging.

 

After careful consideration, the decision was made to proceed pro se.

If my claims fail at the BVA level, I would hire an attorney for the CAVC appeal.

 

Edited by 63Charlie
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My regret is not hiring an attorney earlier.  It would have saved years of trouble, and maybe not cost a cent.  You can successfully go pro se iff (if and only if):

1.  You are willing to meet all deadlines.  One year to file the NOD, 60 days to file the I9, and timely appeal to the CAVC, all have to be done on time.  You need computer internet access, and a printer, as a minimum.  It helps to be good with search engines such as case law and 38 CFR's.    

2.  You are willing to read up on case law, regulation, and devote the time and money to persue your claim.  You have a good grasp of not only how to write, but VA terms, and legal terms.  

3.  You are organized and cal keep copies of your documents, and can find your records.

4.  You are persistent enough to wait 5 years, keep all deadlines along the way. 

5.  You are healthy enough to outlast your claim, since many Vets die or are to sick to continue.  

    If you dont meet all 5, above, then you should consider an attorney.  Not everyone can do this.  

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Up until XX/20??, when the VA Began the DRO Review or Hearing Appeals program, what, 99.9% of all Denied Vets had but (1) recourse, BVA Appeal.

Don't know about you guys but I certainly wasn't up to speed with VA Claims/Appeals in 08 and for about 2 years after filing the 1st claim. Certainly wouldn't have had the knowledge or experience necessary to Prosecute a successful BVA Appeal.

Smarter and more experience now, but I'd still opt for a Lawyer, if the BVA was the last chance for reversal.

After waiting 4.25 yrs for my 1st DRO Hearing (No Lawyer), I was successful with an "Informal" Hearing. Needless to say, I'm a proponent of the DRO Hearing.

Vet's need to realize when to "Pull the Trigger on the Lawyer." Don't waste time, if your not up to the DRO/BVA Task, "Pull the Trigger" Sooner Rather than Later. 20% of 4 yrs Retro is a hell of a lot less than 20% of 6 or 8 yrs, right.

Semper Fi

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