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So, this is the skinny on hiring and paying an attorney in the real world.

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jamescripps2

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I served in the US ARMY 1967-1970. I first entered into the claims process when I filed an agent orange exposure claim in November 2005. I filed the claim for ischemic heart disease as secondary to Diabetes type II. Heart disease had yet to be recognized as a presumptive of AO exposure at that time. The American Legion was chosen for my POA. I found no competent VSO who believed in my claim of agent orange exposure at a military post inside CONUS, much less a VSO who could, or would, assist me in my claim development and prosecution. In a BVA decision dated November 9th, 2009, I won the very first ever Agent Orange claim to be granted for AO exposure at a military instillation inside CONUS.

I researched, filed and prosecuted my own claims from the beginning, I advanced, a step at a time all of the way up to the award of SMC R-2, which was granted at the RO level, effective July 31, 2020.  I also filed and prosecuted my own PCAFC caregiver claim through six appeals to finally obtain level 2 benefits for my caregiver in the first ever PCAFC case to be granted at the BVA.

Having achieved the SMC R-2 benefits on my own, and looking back, I found an error in a prior decision and needed to file a claim for an earlier effective date for the 2016 award of R-1. I filed for the EED using the legacy system. The case advanced up through the RO who denied the claim and on up to the BVA level where, it was once again denied. I knew that my contention was viable and I also knew that I was right, but the claim got really complicated really quick because its success relied upon a inferred claim theory. I needed to go to the Court.

I realized the fact that in order to be successful at the CAVC I needed an attorney. I engaged the services of the CCK law firm. We went to the CAVC where my attorneys successfully argued for a joint motion for remand (JMR). My attorney fees at the CAVC alone totaled north of $4700.00, but qualified for payment under the Equal Access to Justice Act.(EAJA). The case was then remanded back to the BVA by the Court for a new decision.

The case having been remanded back to the Board, I had an important decision to make. I could prosecute the claim myself, or I could retain the CCK law firm to see the claim through to the end. The attorney fee of 20% of any recovered retro pay would be due and payable upon a win. I chose to retain the law firm.

The case was further remanded by the BVA. It went back to the RO, the agency of original jurisdiction for a new C&P exam. CCK attorneys arranged and fronted the cost for a IMO in support of my claim. The cost of the IMO very reasonable at only $500.00. I was required to pay the $500.00 for the IMO, only if I won, whereupon the fee would come out of my retro.

My new IMO was ignored by the RO in it's once again denied decision. My law firm filed for a higher level revue. In the HLR, the VLJ found an error in the VA's duty to assist that had to be to be corrected. Because of the failure of the VA's duty to assist error, the HLR was closed, and the case then was kicked up to a Supplemental Claim. The EED was finally granted in the supplemental claims process decision on October 17,  2022.

Generally, when an attorney is retained and a fee agreement is reached, a contract is drawn up and signed. If the fee agreement is approved by the VA, the attorney fees are withheld from any Retro payment to be then paid directly to the Attorney. In my case, for some unbeknown reason, the attorney fees were not withheld by the VA. The law firm contacted me after the decision letter was delivered and I did a wire transfer from my bank account directly into the attorney's bank account for the total amount owed.

On 10/26/2022 I completed a wire transfer to my attorney's bank account in the amount of $37,065.50. The break down was $36,565.50 for the attorney's fee of 20% of my retro, plus a $500.00 fee for the IMO payment that was advanced by the law firm for payment to the doctor for the IMO.

Total cost of attorney representation was $4700.00 EAJA payment for representation before the Court. The post Court attorney's fees at 20% of my retro equaled $36,565.50 plus $500.00 for the IMO. Total cost of representation in the case, $41,765.55 for the whole enchilada.

Was it worth it? Well lets just say that 20% of nothing is nothing and thank you CCK for a job well done.

Keep in mind that an attorney is allowed to charge 30% now days, and some, if not most, of the larger firms do.

Also know that your case has a place in line at the RO level, or a docket number at the Board. Hiring attorney cannot and will not speed up your decision one iota. One constellation, if there is one, is the fact that once you prevail at the Court your case, as required by law, will be advanced on the docket and given an expedited status for the remainder of the pendency of the claim.

The afore mentioned appeal originated when I filed a notice of disagreement for an EED of the grant of A&A at the R-1 rate back in 2011. It took more than five years to get a RO decision. Four more years were burned up to get a denied decision at the Board. Two more years of waiting from the Court JMR decision to a final granted decision at the RO as a supplemental claim. My granted decision is finally tucked in my belt and the money is in the bank.

Total time line of fighting for my benefits, 17 years. At this time the CCK law firm is looking the decision over to decide whether or not the full benefits were obtained, and whether to quit, or appeal.  

My final rating 100% P&T + The maximum rating of SMC "O" to include A&A at the rate of R-2 + level 2 PCAFC caregiver benefits for my caretaker.

I can now state the fact that, no veteran of any branch of service, of any era, has ever been awarded a higher disability rating than I carry at this time. 

 

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

Excellent information!

I engaged several firms over the years, including CCK. Given my circumstances which were nowhere near as bad as yours, some were not accepting my claimed issues, but most said to come back if I get denied by the BVA. 

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7 hours ago, jamescripps2 said:

I served in the US ARMY 1967-1970. I first entered into the claims process when I filed an agent orange exposure claim in November 2005. I filed the claim for ischemic heart disease as secondary to Diabetes type II. Heart disease had yet to be recognized as a presumptive of AO exposure at that time. The American Legion was chosen for my POA. I found no competent VSO who believed in my claim of agent orange exposure at a military post inside CONUS, much less a VSO who could, or would, assist me in my claim development and prosecution. In a BVA decision dated November 9th, 2009, I won the very first ever Agent Orange claim to be granted for AO exposure at a military instillation inside CONUS.

I researched, filed and prosecuted my own claims from the beginning, I advanced, a step at a time all of the way up to the award of SMC R-2, which was granted at the RO level, effective July 31, 2020.  I also filed and prosecuted my own PCAFC caregiver claim through six appeals to finally obtain level 2 benefits for my caregiver in the first ever PCAFC case to be granted at the BVA.

Having achieved the SMC R-2 benefits on my own, and looking back, I found an error in a prior decision and needed to file a claim for an earlier effective date for the 2016 award of R-1. I filed for the EED using the legacy system. The case advanced up through the RO who denied the claim and on up to the BVA level where, it was once again denied. I knew that my contention was viable and I also knew that I was right, but the claim got really complicated really quick because its success relied upon a inferred claim theory. I needed to go to the Court.

I realized the fact that in order to be successful at the CAVC I needed an attorney. I engaged the services of the CCK law firm. We went to the CAVC where my attorneys successfully argued for a joint motion for remand (JMR). My attorney fees at the CAVC alone totaled north of $4700.00, but qualified for payment under the Equal Access to Justice Act.(EAJA). The case was then remanded back to the BVA by the Court for a new decision.

The case having been remanded back to the Board, I had an important decision to make. I could prosecute the claim myself, or I could retain the CCK law firm to see the claim through to the end. The attorney fee of 20% of any recovered retro pay would be due and payable upon a win. I chose to retain the law firm.

The case was further remanded by the BVA. It went back to the RO, the agency of original jurisdiction for a new C&P exam. CCK attorneys arranged and fronted the cost for a IMO in support of my claim. The cost of the IMO very reasonable at only $500.00. I was required to pay the $500.00 for the IMO, only if I won, whereupon the fee would come out of my retro.

My new IMO was ignored by the RO in it's once again denied decision. My law firm filed for a higher level revue. In the HLR, the VLJ found an error in the VA's duty to assist that had to be to be corrected. Because of the failure of the VA's duty to assist error, the HLR was closed, and the case then was kicked up to a Supplemental Claim. The EED was finally granted in the supplemental claims process decision on October 17,  2022.

Generally, when an attorney is retained and a fee agreement is reached, a contract is drawn up and signed. If the fee agreement is approved by the VA, the attorney fees are withheld from any Retro payment to be then paid directly to the Attorney. In my case, for some unbeknown reason, the attorney fees were not withheld by the VA. The law firm contacted me after the decision letter was delivered and I did a wire transfer from my bank account directly into the attorney's bank account for the total amount owed.

On 10/26/2022 I completed a wire transfer to my attorney's bank account in the amount of $37,065.50. The break down was $36,565.50 for the attorney's fee of 20% of my retro, plus a $500.00 fee for the IMO payment that was advanced by the law firm for payment to the doctor for the IMO.

Total cost of attorney representation was $4700.00 EAJA payment for representation before the Court. The post Court attorney's fees at 20% of my retro equaled $36,565.50 plus $500.00 for the IMO. Total cost of representation in the case, $41,765.55 for the whole enchilada.

Was it worth it? Well lets just say that 20% of nothing is nothing and thank you CCK for a job well done.

Keep in mind that an attorney is allowed to charge 30% now days, and some, if not most, of the larger firms do.

Also know that your case has a place in line at the RO level, or a docket number at the Board. Hiring attorney cannot and will not speed up your decision one iota. One constellation, if there is one, is the fact that once you prevail at the Court your case, as required by law, will be advanced on the docket and given an expedited status for the remainder of the pendency of the claim.

The afore mentioned appeal originated when I filed a notice of disagreement for an EED of the grant of A&A at the R-1 rate back in 2011. It took more than five years to get a RO decision. Four more years were burned up to get a denied decision at the Board. Two more years of waiting from the Court JMR decision to a final granted decision at the RO as a supplemental claim. My granted decision is finally tucked in my belt and the money is in the bank.

Total time line of fighting for my benefits, 17 years. At this time the CCK law firm is looking the decision over to decide whether or not the full benefits were obtained, and whether to quit, or appeal.  

My final rating 100% P&T + The maximum rating of SMC "O" to include A&A at the rate of R-2 + level 2 PCAFC caregiver benefits for my caretaker.

I can now state the fact that, no veteran of any branch of service, of any era, has ever been awarded a higher disability rating than I carry at this time. 

 

Great story, congratulations 🎉.

I am also representative by a well known and respected law firm.

They fought hard for me, now I am 100% PT smc-s.

I have a BVA appeal in direct review lane for an eed. 515 days waiting to be assigned to a judge.

”Never, give up”

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7 hours ago, jamescripps2 said:

My final rating 100% P&T + The maximum rating of SMC "O" to include A&A at the rate of R-2 + level 2 PCAFC caregiver benefits for my caretaker.

I can now state the fact that, no veteran of any branch of service, of any era, has ever been awarded a higher disability rating than I carry at this time. 

 

AMAZING!! never give up guys- it does happen and can but only if you fight for yourself and your benefits... as soon as you say- thats good enough, i know i should have gotten this, but i am tired of fighting- thats when the VA wins

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i hope i never need to see CAVC. if you look at some of my recent posts tho, i have a claim in for insurance waiver, and honestly i am hoping the BVA fails to do the right thing so i can take up the ladder.

some things need to go up so it can be made precedent. too many times the VA gets away with things bc they "fix it" before any real change can happen. this goes with EED claims, sending vets to countless c&p exams etc(all the hamster wheel delay tactics we all experience)

sure some of us win eventually- but who to say i dont get hit by train tomorrow- then the VA wins. who says i my depression and PTSD wont get a grip on my life and i quit fighting-the VA wins.... 

i fight not just for my benefits- i fight for others that have given up- i hope stories like the OP encourage them to keep fighting

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