What is the difference between a VSO/NSO and an Accredited Claims Agent?
VSO’s (Veterans Service Officer) are typically those who work for a Service organization such as Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and so on. CVSO, also known as County Veteran Service Officer are employed by the State and your tax dollars with your State Department of Veterans Affairs (don’t confuse this with VA).
VSO’s are Free to use and are not paid out of your claim award, again, they (the VSO) is paid by the Service Organization they represent and no membership is required by these organizations to use them. They fall under the Organizations accreditation which they work for. Chapter Service Officers are NOT accredited and attend only minimal training. They are there to help you fill out the forms to send to the VSO of that organization. Once your claim paperwork is sent up, the Chapter Service officers no longer can help you, they do not have access to your file or VA Systems like the VSO’s and NSO’s have.
An Accredited Agent or Attorney is someone who has been through the VA OIG’s back ground investigations and Testing to represent you and your claim/s. Per CFR, the only ones who can help your prepare, submit and represent you with a VA Claim is either a Service Organization (VFW, DAV, AL and so on), VA Accredited Claims Agents and Attorneys.
Prepare means to help the veteran compile their info and assist with their claim in ANY way!
ONLY an Accredited Claims Agent or Attorney are allowed by VA Law (CFR) to charge any fees for their services. There are a ton of ‘companies’ or ‘consulting firms’ that have you sign a contract for a fee based on a percentage of any backpay. They Claim to help you get it all ready to take it to another ACCREDITED form of individual to submit the claim and they feel that since they aren’t submitting the claim they can get around becoming accredited.
One note to make is that an Accredited Agent or Attorney is paid directly from VA upon an increase award backpay or other backpay from a successful award. These so called ‘Firms’ that aren’t accredited do NOT get paid by VA, nor do they submit any contract agreement to VA that is required by an Accredited Agent or Attorney! Should you have gotten a separation check from the military for your disability, VA will withhold any and all money until that check from the military is paid back… these ‘firms’ will send you to collections to get their money even though you won’t get any for a year or longer from VA.
All Accredited Agents, Attorneys and Service Organizations are listed with VA at the Office of Inspector General and are subject to OIG rulings upon complaints, overpayment ect.