VA Accredited Representatives ► Disability Claim Assistance
An accredited representative is an individual who has undergone a formal application and training process and is recognized by VA as being capable of assisting claimants with their affairs before VA. Most accredited representatives work for veteran service organizations (VSOs) many of which are private non-profit groups that advocate on behalf of Veterans, Service members, dependents and survivors. Accredited representatives may also work for state or county government entities. The accreditation process includes an examination, a background investigation, and continuing education requirements to ensure VSOs are providing the most up-to-date information. Recognized organizations and individuals, whether congressionally chartered VSOs or VA accredited claims agents or attorneys, can legally represent a Veteran, Service member, dependent, or survivor before VA. Non-recognized organizations and individuals can provide information, but cannot be a representative.
What is the role of an accredited representative?
A VSO, along with state, county, and other local Veteran service representatives are trained to help you understand and apply for any VA benefits you may be entitled to including: compensation, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment, home loans, life insurance, pension, health care, and burial benefits. Additionally, your VSO can help you gather any evidence needed and submit a Fully Developed Claim on your behalf. Many VSOs provide their services free-of-charge, but they may request reimbursement for unusual expenses.
In addition to assisting Veterans and their families with VA claims, VSOs also sponsor a range of Veteran-centric programs such as providing transportation to and from VA medical center appointments, funds and volunteers for disaster relief, and grants. VSOs also lobby Congress on behalf of issues facing Veterans and help support requests for resources needed by VA to better serve Veterans, their families, and survivors. The VA Office of General Counsel maintains a list of VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals that are authorized to assist in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of VA benefit claims. For more information is available to veterans at https://www.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp on how to select a representative, find out who can charge fees relating to representation, file a complaint about your representative, or to dispute a charged by an agent or attorney based on reasonableness.
Fee for Service
Unlike VSOs, VA accredited claims agents and attorneys may charge a fee for their services. For more information on what to do if you believe you were charged an unreasonable fee by a claims agent or attorney, see the fact sheet on How to Challenge a Fee at https://www.va.gov/OGC/docs/Accred/HowtoChallengeaFee.pdf.
How to find a Representative
At your nearest VA regional benefit office. To find a VSO office located in or near your local regional benefit office, use VA’s directory of VSOs https://www.benefits.va.gov/vso/varo.asp.
How to Appoint a VSO or Representative
You may appoint an attorney, claim agent, or VSO to represent you or manage your current representative online using eBenefits. You may also appoint a VSO or representative by completing VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative and mailing it to:
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
It is recommended that you first speak to the service organization before you submit your request to VA.
[Source: https://www.benefits.va.gov/vso/index.asp | March 2018 ++]