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Recently, a number of websites have popped up which, at first glance, appear to be VA websites, or VA Hospital websites. A further reading of the content of these sites appears to be a solicitation offering legal services to Veterans.
Veterans should be wary about using these services. All attorneys or non-attorney representatives must be accredited by the VA before they will be permitted to file claims on behalf of veterans or in any way represent veterans in claims against the VA. Anyone offering such services without being appropriately accredited is in violation of federal law.
Furthermore, all VA representatives are required to undergo continuing legal education on an annual basis in order to keep their accreditation current. This ensures that all accredited agents and attorneys are keeping abreast of any changes in the law and any other areas that might affect veterans’ claims.
In order to protect veterans from misrepresentation, the VA is required by law to:
(1) regulate the qualifications and standards of conduct applicable to accredited agents and attorneys;
(2) annually collect information about accredited agents’ and attorneys’ standing to practice or appear before any court, bar, or Federal or State agency;
(3) proscribe accreditation of individuals who have been suspended or disbarred from any such entity without reinstatement;
(4) add to the list of grounds for suspension or exclusion of agents or attorneys from further practice before VA; and
(5) subject veteran service organization representatives and individuals recognized for a particular claim to suspension and exclusion from further practice before VA on the same grounds as apply to agents and attorneys.