Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., Owner Of This Weblog, Is An Accredited VA Attorney

Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. is honored to have received accreditation by the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to prepare, present and prosecute claims for veterans before the VA.

Accreditation refers to the authority granted by the VA to those attorneys who meet the standards established by the VA. The VA’s stated purpose in requiring attorney accreditation is to ensure that claimants for VA benefits receive “qualified assistance in preparing and presenting their claims.”

To receive accreditation, federal law requires an agent to pass a written examination while an attorney must prove that he or she is in good standing with the State Bar, and to complete continuing legal education covering, at a minimum, the following topics: VA representation, disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation and pension benefits, claim procedures, eligibility requirements, and appeal rights. An attorney must also establish that he or she is of good character and reputation.

The privilege of accreditation carries with it the responsibility to maintain specified standards of conduct and comply with the laws that govern VA representations, as set forth in the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.

According to federal law, attorneys who do not receive VA accreditation are prohibited from assisting claimants in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of VA claims, regardless of whether or not the attorney charges legal fees for those services. Unaccredited attorneys may only provide limited services to veterans, such as providing general information about VA benefits, and may not assist veterans in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of their claims.

The VA also regulates the fees that may be charged by accredited attorneys. In general, an attorney cannot charge a VA claimant for assistance in filing an eligibility verification report (“EVR”); in order to charge legal fees for representation before VA, the agency must have issued an adverse decision on a VA claim for benefits, and the claimant must have filed a notice of disagreement (NOD), or an appeal, with respect to that adverse decision.

The VA accreditation system is designed to ensure that lawyers who represent VA claimants have a thorough understanding of the VA health and benefit systems, so that they may provide quality assistance in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of those claims.

In addition to being accredited as a VA attorney, Mr. Vanarelli is also certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, accredited by the American Bar Association. Elder law is the legal practice of representing older or disabled persons and their representatives in various matters including financing long-term medical care, nursing home issues, qualifying for Medicare, Medicaid and other public benefits, estate planning and administration, trust creation and administration, probate, retirement benefit disputes, estate litigation and guardianships. These combined distinctions allow Mr. Vanarelli to provide veterans and their families with advice on complex areas of law concerning long-term care planning, including VA pension benefits and the related issue of Medicaid benefits.

Mr. Vanarelli is proud to be one of the few attorneys in New Jersey accredited by the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist veterans who have served our country obtain the benefits they deserve.