You are here:  Home  >  Veterans Disability  >  Current Article

Can Veterans disability lawyers help?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  19 Comments

    Print       Email

According to data from the VA, veterans disability lawyers can improve your chances of winning on appeal. According to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals data, veterans appealing in 2011 with no representation had 36% of their appeals denied. Veterans with attorneys had 18% of their appeals denied.

Each situation is unique, and some cases can be better helped by attorneys than others. Here are some of the areas where attorneys experienced in helping veterans with disability claims can provide assistance:

Knowing the law and complex regulations

The VA has to work with complex laws and regulations when it reviews claims. Very high error rates show that even the VA itself has trouble correctly understanding and applying these rules. The VA admits to an error rate of 14% on disability claims. The Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed a group of those claims and found the percentage of mistakes was closer to 38%.

Experienced attorneys know the laws and regulations. All veterans disability lawyers must be accredited by the VA. To maintain their accreditation, they are required to stay current on the laws and procedures by taking continuing legal education courses.

Building a strong case

Lawyers are skilled at building cases, by maximizing all available evidence to prove your case meets the requirements. If the VA denied your claim because it said there was no evidence, or the evidence you presented was not sufficient, an attorney can help you prove your condition and/or its connection to your military service.

Attorneys who work in this area will have skilled investigators who know how to track down records. If your case is hard to prove simply with available records, attorneys know how to demonstrate facts in other ways. Opinions from medical experts can help bolster your claim for physical or mental illness; statements from witnesses can help prove the accident was related to your military service. No attorney can guarantee you will win, but they can make it harder for the VA to deny your claim and easier to assign the appropriate disability rating.
Handling challenging claims

Some types of claims are simply difficult to prove, or may be viewed less favorably by the VA. Mental illness is one of these. The VA has a history of underestimating mental health conditions resulting from military service. Only recently, in 2010, did the DVA relax its evidence requirements to prove post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even though recognition of PTSD is improving – problems still remain. Disability claims by veterans for conditions related to mental illness continue to be commonly misunderstood and under-valuated. If the VA sends you to one of their doctors for diagnosis, they may not be trained to correctly diagnose the existence and severity of mental health conditions. Even if the condition is correctly diagnosed, the VA may rate it lower than it should be rated.

While the VA deals in generalities, attorneys provide personalized attention to your case. Their entire goal is to get you the proper benefits you deserve for the condition you are suffering.

May reduce delays

Attorneys can’t actually make the appeal process itself work any faster. However, experienced attorneys can help gather all initial evidence and documentation more quickly and get the appeal process started more quickly; they can also reduce the turnaround time it takes to respond to requests for more information. In some cases, they may spot errors early in the process that can eliminate even more delay. Shaving off a few weeks or months at every point throughout your appeal can really add up.

If you’re wondering how you can afford to hire an attorney, most Veterans disability lawyers take cases on a contingency basis — which means they only get paid on the contingency that you win your appeal. See our article “How much does a VA disability attorney cost?

    Print       Email


  1. Sheila Chiti says:

    I am looking for a successful attorney who is very familiar and experienced with appeals for PTSD/MST and MDD. I have a diagnosis from my VA psychologist of PTSD/MDD, and a NEXUS letter from her. I have medical records from sick call in the Navy where I complained of stress and stomach pain which provider noted was believed to be due to work issues. I was prescribed Librax and Mylanta for my illness. I was denied in the basis of not enough evidence to prove stressor occurred. NO C&P EXAM WAS EVER ORDERED!!! Thank you all so much for any help and advice.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sheila,

      You should check with an accredited VA attorney in your locale. Check with the Department of Veterans Affairs which maintains a listing of accredited attorneys by geographic areas.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  2. Victor says:

    Spent 3 wks hospitalized in Vietnam, then evacuated out fort another week in Japan and the USA for for a skin disease. 3 Medical officers at 24th Evacuation Hospital-Long Binh issued a P3 Permanent Profile for “physical and stamina”. My condition got worse and worse and at honorable discharge had enlarged prostate, breathing problems at 20 yrs old. Fevers, blisters, eye aches, ear aches, Strep A+, swallowing problems, muscle weakness, bone pain, abdomen cramps and paralyzing pain, rashes, swelling, pruritis, joint pain, sleeplessness. Was treated in infectious wards for “urticaria 2* to chloroquine ingestion.Less than 1 year later and 2 months after discharge I was in a coma from extreme fever, and convulsions. I filed a claim in 1983 for systemic eczema and was denied in less than 3 months. I am filing a NOD, then will probably need a lawyer. The Army conceded my exposure to herbicides in 1983, but claimed my urticaria was not related to my current eczema. Urticaria is linked to all the presumptive diseases allowed by the VA, but I was denied treatment or care or C&P since 1983 because I made too much money. I was hospitalized May 18, 1971 to June 14, 1971 and just recently got SC at 30% IHD and 30%PTSD. They Army sent me “Home Awaiting Orders” on June 14, 1971. I am in Missouri and never received any assistance from the VA in 1983. Still don’t have my medical treatment records from a dozen requests. The VFW, DAV, and myself can’t seem to get them either, and don’t know if they really tried. My claim was differed by a Jan 11, 1983 NOP Cir. 3 months before I filed, because it was related to AO. May very well need experise, because the VA doesn’t care to do the right thing, or they would have worked with me. Thanks

    • Victor says:

      Those conditions mentioned were all while on active duty, except the coma. There are many conditions that got worse after discharge, and others I haven’t mentioned, like broken tailbone in basic training.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Victor,

      What state do you live in?



      • Victor says:

        Missouri. Sorry, I didn’t get notified you had replied, but in the Kansas City area. The Army did not treat, or properly treat my chronic Group A Streptococcus either, and that may also have caused the 100% left carotid artery occlusion and Rheumatic Fever, permanently damaging the heart. I had every condition listed for a “P3” Permanent Profile for “physical capacity and stamina” on DA 3349. It’s basically all organs, all body systems, and blood diseases. Thanks.

  3. j. berlon says:

    I am in search of qualified va disability lawyer in san diego area.

    Just received denial on request for secondary and increase. Included in my current disability entitlements are right knee and right shoulder. Requested inc on r/knee & r/shoulder, L/knee sec to r/knee, L/shoulder sec r/shldr, lower back & r/hip as sec to r/knee. All injuries are current and still receiving therapy and proper care from the va. Included in my package is a nexus letter from my va doctor. Can you refer a lawyer to help with my appeal process in San Diego, CA. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear J.,

      You can go onto the Department of Veterans Affairs website and conduct a search of accredited lawyers within your zip code area.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  4. DW says:

    BLUF: I am blind in my left eye and it is not noted on my rating disability % summary letter. I didn’t specifically list this, but did mention retinal detachment. Can you recommend an attorney so that I am appeal? I am in St. Louis, Missouri.

    thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear DW,

      You can check with the General Counsel’s Office of the VA to get a list of accredited VA attorneys in the St. Louis area.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  5. Bernard Novak says:

    Just received (Dec. 17) VA approved rating of 50% SC compensation for depression,adjustment disorder & anxiety & denial for other 3 issues including a increase for SC 0% rating I have had for 30 years. I want to appeal the whole decision including the 50% rating which should be next group up at 70% clearly & retro should go back further with CUE below. I meet all that criteria for 70% grouping except for 1 item. The shoulder has a clear nexus with service medical records & current medical tx. These injuries were sustained in training in 1967 & which the person was court-martialed for. I understand the mental issues are hardest to obtain & win but I did, just the rating is off.

    If I ask for a DRO hearing will I still receive the monthly 50% check & still able to keep the retro payment I already received? It was for 12 months. I live in Cape Coral, FL near Ft. Myers. & unable to find a EXPERIENCED VA appeal attorney, many say they do VA appeals but have minimal experience which is not what I am looking for.

    I also have 2 CUE’s with proof to take retro back further as well. I was listed as DECEASED for years though I was being treated by VAMC cardiolgy dept for 8 years & the VA lied to me & Congressman saying they could find nothing in my record regarding being deceased & I found 3 docs in the records mentioning it. I have them clearly lying to both of us. It delayed me filing since they discontinued my 0% SC rating as well & I had to get that back first before I could file my claim. I have one hell of a case for a strong, experienced VA attorney that may possibly take retro back to 2008 or 09 with the DECEASED cue. 3 docs I found are in 2004, 06, 08. The second CUE is they kept putting me in for improved pension though I didn’t qualify due to income & was asking for SC compensation. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Bernard,

      I suggest that you contact the Florida Bar Association to help find an experienced VA attorney to assist you.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  6. LaReina says:

    I currently was just award va disability but disagree with 3 of my ratings and know they should be higher. I was also sent a letter that I may qualify for a secondary condition. Can you refer a lawyer to help with my appeal process and filing my sedondary conditon in Denver, Co.

  7. need a tuff attorney for a tuff case

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Roger,

      Obtain an experienced Social Security attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award at the time they send your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.



  8. P Alexander says:

    Looking for a qualified VA Benefits Appeals Attorney in the Sacramento or San Francisco area.

    Just received a denial of claim for PTSD, Depression/Anxiety, Type 2 Diabetes and other issues. I was diagnosed with these ailments by the VA and have been attending weekly PTSD group sessions with psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners for almost 2 years . Served in Thailand during Viet Nam Era with “Boots on the ground” in Saigon in route to Thailand. Exposed to herbicides and Agent Orange on base working in bomb dump. Denial states, “can’t identify service connection”.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear P.,

      Disability Advisor has a good VA attorney in San Francisco; however, we would like to clarify your name and give the attorney your phone number. (You identify yourself as P. Alexander, but you email address seems to indicate that your name is Pauline Marzette.) I will NOT post your reply with the phone number so that the number and your full name will kept private. I will just pull information and forward it to the attorney to contact you.

      Best regards,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *