Six years ago, options for attorneys to assist veterans seeking benefits were greatly expanded, and that created both opportunities and challenges for lawyers. Prior to that time, lawyers had been involved in helping veterans seek benefits, largely on a pro bono basis. The changes to the Code of Federal Regulations in 2008 established a system for authorizing advocates to represent veterans in appeals, and it changed the point in the appeals process at which an attorney can start charging a fee. See 38 C.F.R. §§ 14.629–.631 (2008) (authorizing accreditation of attorneys). There is still a prohibition on charging for helping with the initial claims form and eligibility verification. See Accreditation Frequently Asked Questions, Off. Gen. Counsel www.va.gov/ogc/accred_faqs.asp (last updated Oct. 10, 2013) (“Representation” topic).
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