Why Hire CCK for Your VA Disability Appeal?
Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD is a national leader in the field of Veterans Law, with decades of experience successfully representing Veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Since 1999, CCK’s experienced team has recovered over $1 billion in benefits for our disabled veteran clients and their families.
Why do you need a lawyer for your VA disability appeal?
Unfortunately, veterans are often denied VA disability benefits for conditions related to their military service. Furthermore, the appeals process under the AMA system is often confusing to navigate. Our knowledgeable team of VA-accredited attorneys and claims agents understand the complexities of the claims and appeals process. We can help you build the strongest possible appeal and fight for the benefits to which you are rightfully entitled.
Why should you trust CCK with your VA disability benefits case?
First and foremost: this work is personal to us. Many members of Team CCK have personal connections to the veterans’ community; we are friends, family members, and spouses of veterans, and veterans ourselves. We hold ourselves to the highest legal and ethical standards while ensuring that promises made to our clients are kept through focused, experienced, and compassionate advocacy.
CCK is a hub for thought leaders in the legal field of Veterans Disability Law. Collectively, our attorneys, agents, and practitioners have well over 300 years of experience representing disabled veterans and their families. CCK’s clients benefit from the diverse professional experiences and legal backgrounds of our attorneys and advocates, including veterans service organizations, non-profit organizations, and even the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Our team has a long history of leadership in professional organizations and legislative efforts, making CCK uniquely positioned and equipped to advocate for successful outcomes for our clients.
There are a lot of options when it comes to representation for your VA claim, and we want you to make the best decision for you.
Questions to Ask a Representative
Any legal representative should be happy to answer some basic questions from a potential client. Here are a few important questions to ask someone before trusting them with your VA disability case:
1. Are you accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs?
If the answer is no, keep looking. To legally represent veterans in their VA disability benefits case, individuals must be accredited by VA. CCK offers our clients the benefit of our collaborative approach to case work coupled with the expertise of the most VA-accredited attorneys, practitioners, and claims agents of any law firm in the United States. We currently have over 75 VA-accredited individuals advocating on behalf of our clients every day—the most in the world with individual accreditation!
2. How much do you charge?
Most accredited veterans’ advocates charge a contingency fee based on retroactive benefits recovered. If someone charges a fee based on future benefits: do not hire them. It is illegal for any organization to charge veterans for a portion of their future benefits.
Our representation before the Department of Veterans Affairs (the Regional Office and Board of Veterans’ Appeals levels) is on a contingency basis, meaning that we do not get paid unless and until you get paid. Here is some additional information on attorney fees and costs.
3. How are you different from VA claims preparation services?
Many VA claims preparation services charge veterans for assistance filing an initial claim, which is illegal. Accredited advocates from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV), offer these services for free.
Additionally, unaccredited representatives working for these claims preparation services may request banking information or login details to VA websites. This is because VA does not recognize them as a representative and therefore does not provide them with claim information directly. It is important to never provide personal login information for bank accounts, eBenefits, any other VA system. Accredited individuals, like those at CCK, should have access to the information they need once a veteran client signs a power of attorney, and, therefore, will not ask for this information.
4. How much professional experience do you have?
If the answer is less than 5 years, keep looking. Veterans disability law is complex. Appealing a VA case involves demanding evidence requirements, strict deadlines, and complicated language. We have personally represented thousands of veterans or family members before the Department of Veterans Affairs. We leverage our vast knowledge of Veterans Law, over 300 years of collective experience, and the resources necessary to build the strongest cases possible for our clients.
5. Do you take cases to Court?
If you receive a denial at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, will your representative assist you with an appeal to Court? Not all accredited agents and attorneys represent veterans before both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Experience before the CAVC allows an advocate to stay up to date on the court decisions that affect how the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and Regional Offices decide claims. CCK has represented over 15,000 veterans and family members before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
6. Do you outsource any of your legal work?
If the answer is yes, keep looking. At CCK, we personally handle every veteran’s disability case. All of our legal work is done by members of Team CCK in the United States of America.
7. Are you leaders in the Veterans Law professional community?
If the answer is no, keep looking. Our team has a long history of leadership in legislative efforts and professional organizations, making CCK uniquely positioned and equipped to advocate for successful outcomes for our clients.
- Together with Harvard Law School and Disabled American Veterans, CCK helped launch the Harvard Legal Clinic for Veterans.
- CCK helped launch the Veterans Disability Appeals Field Clinic at the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in partnership with Roger Williams University School of Law.
- Four members of Team CCK belong to the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, some of whom are serving or have served on the Executive Board or on a committee assignment. CCK is proud to have past NOVA President Robert Chisholm as a Founding Partner.
- Our attorneys and practitioners have taught thousands of veterans’ advocates at over 70 conferences, presentations, webinars, and lectures how to win VA disability cases before the VA and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
- Six of our attorneys are active members of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association, having served in various leadership roles including five past-Presidents and the current President-Elect, Treasurer, and members of the Board of Governors.
- Members of our team are also active with the Federal Circuit Bar Association, to include two Former Chairs and a current Co-Chair of the Veterans Appeals Committee.
- Four of our attorneys are active members of the Federal Bar Association.
- CCK Partner Brad Hennings is a founding member, former Vice-President, and former President of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Historical Society.
8. Has your firm impacted the lives of thousands of veterans through precedent-setting legal advocacy?
The attorneys and advocates at CCK have been involved in legislative processes and landmark, precedent-setting cases that have benefitted the entire veterans’ community.
- AZ v. Shinseki, a precedent-setting decision holding that the absence of service records documenting an alleged sexual assault cannot be used to show that the assault did not occur;
- Lyles v. Shulkin, another precedent-setting decision ruling that veterans can potentially get separate ratings for different knee symptoms under multiple diagnostic codes without violating VA’s rule against pyramiding.
- Cantrell v. Shulkin, recognizing that people who earn an income above the poverty threshold can still qualify for TDIU if they work in a protected work environment and calling for VA to identify standards for determining what constitutes a “protected work environment.”
- Stover v. McDonough, in which the Court ruled that the Board must provide a clearer definition of “near the perimeter” in Thailand exposure cases.
- Chavis v. McDonough, holding that VA regulations require the Board to look beyond objective range of motion measurements, and determine whether a veteran’s disability results in the functional equivalent of actual decreased range of motion.
- Euzebio v. McDonough, a precedential Federal Circuit decision holding that VA must consider any evidence of which it is aware if it is relevant and reasonably connected to a veteran’s claim, even if that evidence is not in the veteran’s claims file.
- Healey v. McDonough, a precedential decision holding that “where a provision of the Purplebook is relevant to a veteran’s appeal, the Board must incorporate a discussion of the relevant provision into its analysis.”
- Walleman v. McDonough, holding that a veteran with a knee rating based on meniscectomy symptoms does not preclude a separate rating based on instability.
- CCK Founding Partner Robert Chisholm’s work on behalf of NOVA shaped legislation that helped thousands of veterans in the VA disability appeal process.
To read more on our involvement with the veterans’ community, scholarships we offer, and non-profit donations and sponsorships, head to our CCK in Action page.
9. Has your firm worked to change the VA system in favor of your clients and other veterans?
In 2022, our firm took legal action against VA on behalf of veterans affected by an increasing backlog of claims. We filed several petitions for writs against the Board of Veterans’ Appeals based on a lack of productivity regarding the processing of Legacy and AMA appeals in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We also submitted a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request in a district court because VA has not produced the documents we have requested. While we took this action on behalf of our clients, this advocacy effects thousands of veterans facing similar issues. Our goal is to hold VA accountable, and for the Court will force VA to process these cases more effectively and eliminate needless delays plaguing the VA benefits process.
10. Have you won any awards or recognition?
We love what we do, and we are honored that our commitment and passion for serving our clients has been recognized by colleagues, peers, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
- CCK is recognized by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers as one of the Best Law Firms in America. Our attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Martindale AV Preeminent, and America’s Top 100 Attorneys.
- Two partners at the firm, Robert Chisholm and Zachary Stolz, along with CCK of counsel attorney Barbara Cook, have been admitted to the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates Hall of Honor and have been awarded the Kenneth M. Carpenter Achievement Award for Excellence for making significant contributions to the field of Veterans Law.
- Robert Chisholm was honored by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims with the Hart T. Mankin Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his 25 years of outstanding service to the Court.
- CCK Partner Brad Hennings was a 2016 Fellow in the Leadership VA program and is a member of the Leadership VA Alumni Association.
- CCK has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Rhode Island since 2013. We are proud to celebrate the work we do and of our team of dedicated professionals.
11. Do you have examples of cases that you’ve won?
We’ve represented over 12,500 veterans and their family members before the Department of Veterans Affairs. A few examples of client success stories can be read on our Case Wins page or browse through some testimonials we have received from clients. Keeping our clients’ information safe and secure is of utmost importance to us, and we always respect our client’s privacy. To protect our clients’ confidentiality, we never share any client stories without their permission.
Let the CCK Team Fight for the Benefits You Deserve
You or your loved one served our country with honor and the Department of Veterans Affairs promised to take care of you and your family. It is our mission to make sure they keep that promise. CCK would be honored for the opportunity to get you the benefits to which you are rightfully entitled. If you have been denied VA disability benefits, contact us for a free consultation to determine if we can assist you.