What Are VA-Accredited Agents And How They Can Help In VA Claims?
The process of making claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can be complex and includes several stages. That's why numerous veterans seek help when managing their VA claims. A VA-accredited agent can provide this assistance, but it's crucial for them to be officially recognized by the VA.
The VA initiated the accreditation program to ensure veterans and their families receive appropriate representation concerning VA disability help. A VA-accredited agent can help present, prepare, and pursue VA claims. Representation lacking VA accreditation is not permitted to assist in these stages.
This blog will cover the fundamentals of VA accreditation and highlight the potential drawbacks of working with a non-accredited agent in a VA disability claim.
What Is A VA-Accredited Agent And How Do They Help Veterans?
VA-accredited agents are individuals who have received official accreditation to aid veterans in submitting claims. They are authorized representatives capable of preparing, presenting, and pursuing VA claims.
Upon finishing their application and gaining accreditation, they undergo yearly certification to confirm their good standing.
As the VA consistently modifies the claims process, accredited agents are required to fulfill three hours of qualifying Continuing Legal Education (CLE) on veterans' benefits law and procedure. It must occur within three years from the initial accreditation date and every two years after that.
Your accredited representative will utilize the Veteran Benefits Management System (VBMS) to access your VA claims file. VBMS is specialized claims management software designed specifically for the Veterans Administration.
What Are The Common Risk Factors Of Working With Non-Accredited Agents?
Non-accredited agents are not permitted by law to aid in preparing, presenting, and prosecuting VA claims. The VA mandates the submission of Form 21-22 or 21-22A with an accredited agent, or you may proceed with the filing process independently until the agent obtains accreditation.
Moreover, if a veteran chooses a non-VA accredited agent, they may be required to cover non-accredited agent fees.
VA-accredited agents are obligated to adhere to a more rigorous code of conduct established not only by the state bar but also by the VA when representing veterans and their families in benefit matters. These regulations are implemented to safeguard the veteran's interests, so opting for a non-accredited agent could place you in a disadvantageous position.
Five Red Flags You Must Look For When Hiring An Agent?
Below are five red flags veterans must know before hiring an agent:
- When engaging with potential representation, it's essential to be well-prepared and have inquiries ready. Additionally, always inquire about their accreditation status.
- Another valuable resource is the VA's Accreditation Search website, where you can find an accredited agent.
- Be vigilant for warning signs when hiring an agent. These indicators may encompass requesting a fee to file a claim, which is not permissible. If an agent aids in the initial VA claim filing, they must assist without imposing any charges. Other red flags to watch out for include the absence of a fee agreement and unreasonably high fees.
- If your prospective representative offers a guaranteed outcome, this should raise concerns because only the VA can determine such results. Additionally, be cautious if the agent is seeking a share of your future monthly disability benefits.
- It's also a warning sign if the individual or company requests your personal or financial information. Be sure to ask numerous questions and verify the representative's credentials through the VA accreditation search before entering into any agreement.
The VA established the accreditation program to aid veterans and their families in pursuing benefit claims. It is of utmost importance to consistently collaborate with a VA-accredited representative throughout your VA claims process.