What is a VA Accredited Attorney or Representative?
VA-accredited attorneys or representatives are individuals recognized by VA as legally authorized and capable of assisting claimants in pursuit of benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs. The accreditation program exists to ensure that veterans and their family members receive adequate, informed representation throughout the VA benefits appeals process. VA-accredited representatives can include attorneys, accredited claims agents, veteran service organizations (VSOs), and state or county government entities.
Accredited representatives are trained to help claimants understand and pursue the VA benefits available to them. These individuals are legally authorized to represent veterans, servicemembers, dependents, and survivors before VA for a number of VA benefits, such as disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation. Individuals and organizations who are not accredited by VA are not permitted to represent veterans in this capacity.
What does the accreditation process entail?
To receive VA-accreditation, non-attorney representatives must pass an examination, a background check, and attend continuing education courses regularly. In addition to these requirements, accredited representatives must abide by VA’s as follows:
- VA-accredited individuals shall:
- Execute their duties faithfully on behalf of a VA claimant;
- Be truthful with claimants and VA;
- Deliver competent assistance to claimants;
- Provide prompt and diligent claim assistance;
- VA-accredited individuals shall NOT:
- Evade a rule of conduct “through the actions of another;”
- Engage in deceitful, fraudulent, misrepresentative, or dishonest conduct;
- Violate any provisions included in title 38 United States Code, or title 38, Code of Federal Regulations;
- Charge, solicit, or enter an agreement for unreasonable or unlawful fees;
- Receive or solicit funds related to services provided prior to when VA issues its initial decision;
- Hinder the processing of a claim;
- Deceive, threaten, mislead, or coerce a claimant about benefits or rights;
- Act or encourage a claimant to act in a manner that is detrimental to the conduct of VA proceedings;
- Disclose any information provided by VA for representation purposes without the claimant’s permission;
- Take part in unlawful or unethical conduct;
How to find and appoint a VA-accredited representative
The Department of Veterans Affairs hosts a searchable database of accredited representatives. Claimants are able to search for accredited attorneys, claims agents, or VSO representatives. Those seeking representation may also visit their local Regional Office for assistance.
To appoint a representative, claimants may use VA.gov or mail. Veterans who wish to appoint an attorney or accredited claims agent by mail may use VA Form 21-22a: Appointment of Individual as Claimant’s Representative. Those who wish to appoint a Veteran Service Organization by mail can complete VA Form 21-22: Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative. These forms should be sent to VA’s Claims Intake Center at:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444
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