July 2016 Archives

VA Accredited Attorneys

The story below is a very unfortunate. If you are seeking assistance with a VA appeal, remember, 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).


Susan Criss was interviewed by KTRK (ABC, CH. 13) in Houston for a story regarding Galveston District Court Judge Neves issuing an order stating he does not intend to accept plea bargain agreements in cases where police officers are threatened, disrespected or assaulted. Former District Court Judge Susan Criss is concerned Neves crossed a line. "Showing favoritism to the police can be a problem for a judge," Criss said. "I could understand the human part of it, I could understand the sympathy toward law enforcement, but I also have concerns about the effect in court." Click here to view the article and video. 

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: VA Issues Rules for Hospital Care and Medical Services for Camp Lejeune Veterans

Today, VA issued a final rule addressing health care for Camp Lejeune veterans, primarily addressing the right to retroactive reimbursement for copayments. A separate rule will be issued for veterans' family members.

What are the key life events that trigger a person to review life insurance beneficiaries?

A good rule of thumb is that when there are life changes that occur, your life insurance beneficiaries should be reviewed to ensure they are up to date and still fit your desires. While there are many key events that should trigger a review of life insurance beneficiaries, some common life changes that should prompt you into reviewing your policy are birth, adoption, change in marital status, and death. Also, do not forget about group life insurance plans through employers. Even when there are no life changes, it is a good practice to consider reviewing life insurance beneficiary designations about once a year. For more information, see Brad Cummins, When to Update Your Life Insurance Beneficiaries, Investopedia, May 17, 2016.

VA mails letters for new Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) exams

The VA Secretary has agreed to offer over 24,000 veterans new Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) examinations after determining they did not receive an exam by the appropriate specialist - physiatrist, psychiatrist, neurologist, or neurosurgeon - during the period between 2007 - 2015. This week, those veterans will receive a VA letter regarding their right to a new exam. Affected veterans have one year within which to request the new exam. If you have questions regarding a VA Disability claim appeal, contact Attorney Rick Rousseau at 254-699-9999. 

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