In my opinion, the most common misunderstanding is the attorney’s role in assisting those contemplating applying for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. Many organizations and individuals tend to over-generalize what an attorney can and cannot do and state that it is unlawful to charge for benefits. This statement is completely TRUE yet INACCURATE at best. First of all, the person making this statement is typically an “interested” party with a financial incentive. For example, he/she may have an incentive to do so in order to sell financial products.
The reality is that NO ONE should charge for applying for benefits and there are many veterans’ organizations and agencies that can assist with the application itself at no charge. The issue is likelihood of success. Simply stated, many veterans will not otherwise be eligible without sound legal advice. In my experience, failure to use VA rules and regulations to one’s advantage is a primary reason for denial. For example, waiting for VA benefits to kick-in prior to hiring a home health-aid that is desperately needed then being denied the benefit because the home health-aid had not yet been hired.
Those licensed to practice law should be entitled to compensation prior to applying for VA benefits in order to explain a potential applicant his/her rights and to implement strategies prior to the application itself. Without such legal advice, the benefit will often be denied or could exclude other benefits (e.g. Medicaid). Thus, an attorney’s role is prior to applying for benefits to educate and facilitate one’s rights in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, this is often confused with the application itself and/or individuals with conflicting objectives.