Attorney fees in VA Compensation claims are contingent upon winning benefits. The VA’s General Counsel office and regional offices must approve of all fee agreements, which allows 20% of the veteran’s BACK benefits, not future benefits, to be withheld to pay the representative. The attorney does not collect the fee directly from the veteran, but reasonable costs may be collected directly from the veteran claimant.
By law, an individual must be accredited by VA as an agent, attorney, or representative of a VA-recognized veterans service organization to assist in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim for VA benefits. 38 U.S.C. §§ 5901-5902, 5904; 38 C.F.R. § 14.629. VA regulations provide a one-time only exception to this general rule, which authorizes a person to provide assistance on a particular claim, but such assistance must be without cost to the claimant and is otherwise subject to the laws governing representation. 38 C.F.R. § 14.630. An individual who is not accredited by VA is otherwise prohibited by law from assisting claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims before VA.
By law, no person or organization may charge claimants a fee for assistance in preparing applications for VA benefits or presenting claims to VA. VA-accredited agents and attorneys may charge fees for assistance on a claim for VA benefits only after VA has issued a decision on a claim, a Notice of Disagreement has been filed initiating an appeal of that decision, and the agent or attorney has complied with the power-of-attorney requirements in 38 C.F.R. § 14.631 and the fee agreement requirements in 38 C.F.R. § 14.636(g). 38 U.S.C. § 5904(c)(1); 38 C.F.R. § 14.636(c).