That is a very good question. There is no doubt that the vast majority of VSOs try their level best to help disabled veterans, and many do a very fine job at it. However, in recent years, the VA disability system has become more complex and adversarial. Due to incompetency, needless formality and basic insensitivity, many VA regional offices have become bureaucratic nightmares. Disabled veterans are asked to submit more and more favorable evidence just to obtain their entitled benefits. And, VA offices require ever greater understanding of the complexity of VA statutes, regulations and court cases.
Yes, it’s true, experienced VA disability attorneys usually charge a 20% contingent fee whereas Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) provide representation for free. However, in general, attorneys have more legal sophistication than VSOs, as attorneys, by definition, have a legal education. Beyond this, attorneys who practice exclusively Veterans Disability law (like the attorneys of the Veterans Law Group (VLG)) have a greater understanding of the workings of the VA system. Moreover, attorneys are generally selective on the type of cases they take. VSOs, on the other hand, must accept any and all cases which come their way. This means that an attorney will give more time and attention to each individual case.
And finally – and this is very important – law firms have more resources than VSOs in terms of staff support and funds to prosecute VA claims. In most cases, medical evidence will decide the fate of claims. Typically, the VA obtains their own medical examinations, and typically they are unfavorable to disabled veterans. Law firms, such as the VLG, have the budget to pay for their own private examinations (ranging from $800-$1,500) to rebut adverse VA examinations.