How Much Can a VA Disability Lawyer Charge? How They Work

If you are a veteran who has been denied disability benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer to help you with your appeal.

A VA disability lawyer can assist you with gathering evidence, preparing arguments, and navigating the complex VA system.

But how much does a VA disability lawyer cost? And is it worth it to hire one?

In this article, we will answer these questions and more.

We will also explain the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a VA disability lawyer, and how to find one that suits your needs.

An image showing a lawyer working on some paper works on his desk[photo courtesy: FindLaw]
A VA disability lawyer can help the veteran with their appeal by providing legal advice, assistance, and representation.[photo courtesy: FindLaw]

How Much Does a VA Disability Lawyer Cost?

Generally, there is no upfront fee for legal representation by a VA disability lawyer.

Most VA disability lawyers use contingent fee arrangements. This means that instead of charging by the hour, most VA disability attorneys receive a percentage of the veteran’s past-due benefits (back pay) that is won on appeal.

So, hiring a VA disability attorney is basically like a risk-free financial investment.

However, there are some limitations and regulations on how much a VA disability lawyer can charge.

According to VA rules, a lawyer can only charge a fee after the veteran receives a final decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).The VA requires the lawyer to obtain accreditation and to establish a written fee agreement with the veteran.

VA typically considers the legal fee to be 20% of the past due benefits awarded, and VA presumes this fee to be reasonable.

However, in some cases, the lawyer may charge up to 33% of the past due benefits if they can justify that their services were extraordinary or exceptional. The maximum allowable charge is 33%.

These fees are only charged if the veteran wins the appeal and receives back pay from the VA.

The back pay is calculated from the date of the original claim or the date of entitlement, whichever is later, to the date of the final decision.

For example, if a veteran filed a claim on Jan. 1, 2020 but was denied and appealed to the BVA, and received a favorable decision on Jan. 1, 2023 with an effective date of Jan 2020 they would receive back pay for three years.

If their monthly benefit was $1,000, their total back pay would be $36,000. If their lawyer charged 20%, their fee would be $7,200.

What is the Average VA Disability?

Before we discuss the fees of a VA disability lawyer, let’s first understand what VA disability is and how it works.

VA disability is a monthly payment that veterans receive if they have a service-connected injury or illness that affects their ability to work or perform daily activities.

The amount of VA disability depends on how disabled the veteran is, based on the evidence submitted or obtained by VA.

VA rates disability from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. The average VA disability rating is 10%, and the average VA disability payment is $165.92 per month (10% rating).

The table below shows the most common VA disability ratings and their corresponding monthly payments as of December 1, 2022.

The payments are based on a single veteran with no dependents. The table is sorted by the frequency of the disability claims.

Disability Rating Monthly Payment Common Disability Claims
10% $165.92 Tinnitus, Limitation of Flexion, Knee, Lumbosacral or Cervical Strain (Back Pain)
20% $327.99 Hearing Loss, Scars
30% $496.76 Migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia
40% $716.64 Sleep Apnea, Erectile Dysfunction, Radiculopathy
50% $1,018.76 Diabetes Mellitus Type II, Asthma, Arthritis
60% $1,334.04 Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
70% $1,663.05 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Bipolar Disorder
80% $1,936.96 Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
90% $2,163.28 Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
100% $3,332.06 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Schizophrenia, Paralysis

How Much is 100% Disability from the VA?

The highest VA disability rating is 100%, which means that the veteran has a total disability that prevents them from working or living independently.

The amount of VA disability for a 100% rating varies depending on the veteran’s situation and factors like the number of spouse and child, age of a child, etc.

The VA adjusts this amount each year to account for increases in the cost of living.

As of December 1, 2021, the amount was $3,332.06 per month for a single veteran with no dependents as shown on the table above.

This could be higher if the veteran reports they have a spouse, dependent children, or both.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Hiring a VA Disability Lawyer?

Hiring a VA disability lawyer can have both advantages and disadvantages for veterans who are seeking benefits. Some of the benefits are:

  • Gather and submit relevant evidence to support your claim or appeal.
  • Prepare and present persuasive arguments based on VA laws and regulations.
  • Avoid common mistakes and errors that could delay or deny your claim or appeal.
  • Communicate with VA officials and represent you at hearings or meetings.
  • Protect your rights and interests throughout the process.

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • Can be expensive and take a significant portion of your back pay if you win your appeal.
  • Cannot guarantee that you will win your appeal or get a higher rating.
  • A lawyer cannot make the VA decide your claim or appeal any faster or easier.
  • A lawyer may not be familiar with your specific medical condition or service history.
  • May not be available or accessible when you need them.

How to Find a VA Disability Lawyer?

If you decide to hire a VA disability lawyer, you should do some research and comparison before choosing one. Here are some tips on how to find a VA disability lawyer:

Conclusion

VA disability benefits are designed to compensate veterans who have suffered service-connected injuries or illnesses that affect their ability to work or perform daily activities.

The amount of VA disability depends on how disabled the veteran is, based on the evidence submitted or obtained by VA.

The highest VA disability rating is 100%, which means that the veteran has a total disability that prevents them from working or living independently.

If a veteran is denied VA disability benefits or disagrees with their rating, they can appeal to the BVA. However, the appeal process can be complex and challenging.

A VA disability lawyer can help the veteran with their appeal by providing legal advice, assistance, and representation.

However, hiring a VA disability lawyer also has some costs and risks. Therefore, veterans should weigh the pros and cons of hiring a VA disability lawyer and find the best one for their case.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about the disability insurance, don’t forget to check out our website for more interesting and informative content.

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