An accredited VA claims agent is an independent legal professional who is not an attorney but rather an individual who, under the provision of federal law, has undergone a character and fitness review by the VA Office of General Counsel and passed a written examination regarding veterans law and VA procedures. VA accreditation refers to the authority granted by the VA by federal law to those who meet the standards established by the VA. Accredited VA Claims Agents provide representation services for veterans in their VA disability claims. VA’s stated purpose in requiring accreditation is to ensure that claimants for VA benefits receive “qualified assistance in preparing and presenting their claims.”
VA recognizes 3 types of individuals for purposes of accreditation:
Accredited claims agents, and
Accredited representatives of veteran service organizations (Veterans Service Officers/VSOs).
A VA accredited claims agent may generally charge claimants a fee ONLY after a VA agency of original jurisdiction (e.g., a VA regional office) has issued an initial rating decision on a disability claim or other lawful veterans benefits. Veterans should be aware that there are indeed limits to the fees that may be charged under federal law.
Accredited VA claims agents fees do give them “skin in the game” with regard to your claim and thus the sheer drive to win the claim is often higher. A good, experienced VA claims agent will review your claims file thoroughly and provide a clear strategy for winning the claim or getting you the highest rating. Certified VA claims agents gain skill in veterans law over time and mostly handle appeals of denied claims.
The VA Office of General Counsel maintains a list of VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals(attorneys, VSOs and VA claims agents) that are authorized to assist in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of VA benefit claims at va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.
Veterans should beware of unaccredited individuals and VA disability “claim sharks” who prepare, present, or prosecute VA benefit and disability claims, or hold themselves out as being authorized to do so, as they are in violation of Federal law.
For claims agent accreditation training and online practice agent examination study materials + questions, see vaclaimsagent.com. Current and Aspiring VA Claims Agents are invited to join our Facebook group for VA claims agents at facebook.com/groups/vaclaimsagents. For further VA accreditation information, see va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp.