Is Your VA Benefit Advisor Accredited?
Following a significant change to federal law in regard to applying for Veteran's benefits, your adviser must be accredited with the Department of Veteran's Affairs in order to assist you with your claim for benefits.
In July of 2008, the Department of Veteran's Affairs mandated that any individual representing a veteran pursuing VA benefits must be accredited with the VA in order to further a claim on behalf of the veteran. As a result, financial planners, attorneys and others have begun the accreditation process. This is important to understand here in Michigan as most veterans first learn of these benefits through non-accredited sources.
If your adviser is not accredited, there are alternatives. Pursuant to federal law a claimant may: (1) represent himself or herself directly; (2) seek assistance through a Veteran Service Organization that is accredited through the VA (American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or State VA offices) 38 CFR 14.628; (3) an individual who has been accredited by the VA; (4) a "one time" power of attorney person, who is usually the child or relative of the claimant ,38 CFR 14.631; (5) an attorney in good standing with the State Bar and has been accredited by the VA, as of June 23, 2008 38 CFR 14.629.
If you are a claimant in Michigan, particularly in the metro-Detroit area, seeking VA benefits, it is important that you seek the advice assistance of an accredited individual or a qualified service organization. Our office can help, in July, I took the necessary steps to become accredited with the VA.
Some advice on selecting an adviser:
Always ask your adviser if he or she is accredited
Seek the assistance of an accredited attorney (most qualified attorneys normally have experience with other aspects of benefit planning, including elder law an Medicaid planning and can offer assistance to those in regard to using VA Benefits for long term care planning).
Contact your local Veteran's service organization
Contact our firm, Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C.