Can Veterans Lawyers Be Hired Prior to Applying for VA Benefits?

Q: Can veterans lawyers be hired to help with an initial application?

A: By law, veterans cannot enlist fee-based services of veterans lawyers until the regional office has provided a rating decision. The Veterans Administration will assure that veterans who need assistance with the initial application are provided that help, since veterans lawyers cannot be hired to help. Once a rating decision has been provided, veterans can have veterans lawyers review those decisions and help with further steps, if needed.

Q: What if a veteran disagrees with the effective date established by the rating decision?

A: The effective date assigned to a decision affects the amount of benefits a veteran will receive as back pay (otherwise known as retroactive benefits). It is important that veterans agree with the effective date assigned. Those who do not, should appeal to have the effective date they believe is correct assigned to their claims. Often veterans will accept an effective date they don’t agree with, simply because they were awarded benefits. But veterans should not settle for benefits less than what they believe they are entitled to. Veterans lawyers can help veterans who wish to appeal. There is no requirement that veterans hire lawyers to appeal, but having that legal assistance will assure that everything possible is being done to attain the correct effective date.

Q: Can a veteran also apply for Social Security disability benefits?

A: Yes, a veteran who is awarded VA benefits is also eligible to apply for Social Security disability insurance. Keep in mind that the VA and Social Security are two separate government agencies with two separate review processes and requirements. And being awarded benefits with the VA does not guarantee that you will be awarded Social Security benefits.

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