When my friend came to me in need of help with veteran’s benefits, I realized how little I knew about the complicated VA benefit process. What a horrible feeling, not being able to help someone I care about when they needed me most. What’s worse, I didn’t know any lawyer who knew enough about veteran’s benefits to give my friend the help she needed. Telling my friend I couldn’t help was not an option. I had to find the answers that would help my loved one.
So why are VA benefits so confusing and difficult to qualify for? Part of the reason is that our Congress has erected a wall around VA benefits. The first thing to know is that the only folks who are legally authorized to provide information to veterans about benefits are:
1. Federal Veterans Administration employees and employees of State Departments of Veteran’s Affairs;
2. Authorized representatives of Veterans Service Organizations like the VFW and American Legion, among others; and
3. Attorneys licensed to practice law in the veteran’s state and accredited by the VA.
That’s right! You’ve got just three options to get the info and calling a lawyer is one of them. That being said, federal law prohibits a lawyer from charging a fee to actually assist a veteran with the claim for VA benefits.
So why did Congress set it up this way? Theoretically, lawyers are not allowed to charge a veteran to help with a VA benefit claim form because:
– There are plenty of capable and trained VA employees available to help vets fill out VA claim forms for free;
– There are plenty of capable and trained volunteers available at the various Veteran’s Service Organizations to help fill out VA claim forms; and
– Veterans should be protected from attorneys who would overcharge them for doing something as simple as completing and submitting a VA claim form.
Like many of our government’s plans, this works much better in theory than in practice. If you have not already tried to get help from either the Veterans Administration or a Veteran’s Service Organization, then I highly recommend that you do try that first. And please, do it immediately. Like everything else pertaining to elder care, planning early – before emergencies begin to occur – is the best way to avoid catastrophe!
The folks at the Veterans Administration and the Veteran’s Service Organizations truly do want to help you. Unfortunately, because of their limited staff and hours, sometimes there’s simply not enough help to go around.
Many of you have already tried to find help, but still need more. If you are confused, have been denied benefits, or still have questions, then it’s time to give us a call at 800-310-3100.
Elder Law Attorney at Law Elder Law, LLP
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Appointments are available in Chicago, Aurora, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, and Joliet. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!