If you think you may be eligible for more than one benefit, we encourage you to begin with a private lawyer who has a military or federal administrative law background and who is familiar with the DoD benefit system. Unless you qualify for pro bono (free) legal help, you will need to pay for this advice. The attorney should tell you up front whether she will charge by the hour, a specific amount for a specific service, or on a contingency basis (where fees are taken out of the benefits you get.) Most lawyers with this expertise would be willing to meet with you on a time-limited basis to review your situation and provide you with advice on how to proceed. Few legal aid programs provides this representation but there are some clinics and special projects that do.
For representation on VA issues, you must find someone who is accredited to represent veterans before the VA. That person will have a VA accreditation number. It can be an attorney or a veteran services officer or an agent. Attorneys do not typically get involved until after the initial denial of a veteran’s claim for benefits. Their fees are typically handled on a contingent fee basis and the fees are capped. Some legal aid programs may provide this representation, often without charging fees.
For representation on Social Security matters, many private attorneys make their living handling cases involving an appeal of an initial denial of benefits for SSI or SSDI. Their services are usually offered on a contingent fee basis and the fees are capped. Many legal aid programs also provide this representation, often without charging fees.
Our Find Legal Help map may be useful in finding legal help in your State.