While any veteran can prepare and file his or her own claim for benefits with the VA, not just anyone can assist a veteran file a claim. Anyone who wants to act as a representative of a veteran in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a VA claim must be recognized for such purpose by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, a claimant may have only one representative for any claim.
The requirement that attorney be accredited in order to “prepare, present and prosecute claims” is part of a regulation that took effect June 28, 2008. There is a two-part accreditation process for attorneys provided by the law. First, the attorney must apply for accreditation with the VA on a VA Form 21a. Second, within one year of initial accreditation, the attorney must compete three hours of qualifying CLE credits on VA topics. Additionally, accredited attorneys will need to complete an additional three hours of CLE not later than three years from the date of initial accreditation and every two years thereafter.
Once accredited, an attorney may prepare, present and prosecute VA claims for their clients by sending a properly executed VA Form 21-22a with the claim, appointing the attorney as the veteran’s authorized representative. Attorney representation applies to an entire firm unless the authorization specifies otherwise. If the claimant is represented by an attorney, the VA is required to supply copies of all correspondence to the claimant as well as the attorney, unless the attorney requests exclusive communication in writing.
VA Form 21a – Application for Accreditation as a Claims Agent or Attorney
For more information visit http://www.va.gov/OGC/accreditation.asp
Accreditation inquires or to check application status send an email to [email protected]