Frequently Asked Questions
How much do your services cost?
Short Answer - 20% of whatever backpay the VA owes you if we win. Nothing other than our out-of-pocket costs if we lose.
Long Answer - Legally, attorneys are allowed to charge up to 33% of the backpay for VA appeals cases. The VA presumes that the fee is fair to the Veteran as long as the fee is only 20%. We agree - if you find someone charging more, run.
As to out-of-pocket costs, we're not going to hit a Veteran with phone bills, copy charges or postage. That's just nuts. If we need a medical opinion to win your case, however, and the Veteran didn't pay for it up front, we do have to be reimbursed.
Can you help with filing a new claim?
Not really. Current law prevents an attorney - or anyone else for that matter - from charging you for any assistance in filing a new claim for VA disability benefits. An attorney can only charge you for help when you need to appeal a negative VA decision on your disability claim. Anyone who says they will help you file a new claim and charges you for their services is literally breaking federal law.
Should I try to file a new claim myself?
We don’t recommend it – the system is designed to be intentionally complicated.
Instead of trying to do it yourself, we always recommend working with a state or county-run Veterans Services office. The reason is simple – they have historically and consistently done the best work, and they do it free of charge to the Veteran. There are other great Veterans Service Organizations (VSO’s) out there with fantastic people working for them. Most of them also do solid work free of charge, but from what we’ve seen, it’s just less consistent. This is especially true when it comes to working on appeals.
How long do appeals take?
We know that this is the typical attorney answer, but it depends. Under the old appeals system, it was possible to get a favorable decision in 1-2 years, with many cases taking 5 years or more. Under the Appeals Modernization Act that was finally implemented in February 2019, there are two options that have been moving much quicker - under 6 months. If the appeal has to go to the Board of Veterans Appeals, however, it will still take 2-4 years - cases with hearing requests have the longest wait times.
Are VA disability benefits taxable?
Federally - not at all. State laws vary, but most don't tax VA disability benefits. Check with your home state's taxing agency to be sure.
Since VA benefits are retroactive, how far do they go back?
This question is about the "Effective Date" of the claim, and there are hundreds of rules and exceptions to those rules that cover this topic, but let's talk about the three most common.
For the vast majority of cases, the general rule is that the Effective Date will be either 1) the date you filed the claim or 2) the date entitlement arose WHICHEVER IS LATER. This means that for most people, the date the claim was filed will be the date the VA uses to calculate the backpay.
If you file your VA disability claim within one year of separating from service, the Effective Date will be the date you left the military.
The rule that confuses most people has to do with cases that were denied, closed and then re-opened. Once a claim is decided, a Veteran has one full year to appeal the VA's decision. If no appeal is filed, the claim is closed. A claim can be re-opened using new evidence that 1) the VA hasn't seen before, and 2) would have helped to come to a favorable decision the first time. If successful, the Effective Date for re-opened claims is the date of the NEW claim, not the original one.