The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a broad range of benefits and services that can enhance the lives of many clients and their families. Unfortunately, many veterans, their families, attorneys, and other client advocates are either unaware such programs exist or they are unable to successfully navigate the byzantine VA bureaucracy. In this new program, you will learn why it is important to inquire about the veteran status of your clients, and where applicable, incorporate VA planning into estate, incapacity, and long-term care planning. You will learn about some of the most important benefits available to veterans and surviving spouses, particularly the Pension program. Through this program, a qualified veteran and spouse can receive a tax-free benefit up to $1,949 per month, a single veteran $1,644, and a surviving spouse $1,056. Planning opportunities for this benefit include the use of irrevocable trusts, immediate annuities, family caregiver agreements, and gifting. You will find out why great care in taking actions to create eligibility to certain VA benefits is critical due to the possible impact on eligibility to other benefits such as Social Security Disability and Medicaid, and the danger of creating substantial negative tax consequences.
Effective July 1, 2008, any attorney wishing to assist claimants in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for VA benefits must be accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for that purpose.
The initial accreditation process consists of application (VA Form 21a) to the General Counsel of the VA, self certification of admission information concerning practice before any other court, bar, or State or Federal Agency, and a determination of character and fitness.
To download the Appointment of Individual as Claimant’s Representative Form go to:
www.va.gov/va forms. The General Counsel will presume an attorney’s character and fitness to practice before the DVA based on State Bar membership in good standing unless the General Counsel receives credible information to the contrary.
As a further condition of initial accreditation, attorneys are required to complete at least 3 hours of qualifying continuing legal education (CLE) during the first 12 month period following the date of initial accreditation by DVA. To qualify, a CLE course must be approved by any State Bar Association, and at a minimum must cover the following topics: representation before the DVA, claims procedures, basic eligibility for VA benefits, right to appeal, disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation and pension. To maintain accreditation, attorneys must complete an additional 3 hours of qualifying CLE on veterans benefits law and procedure not later than 3 years from the date of initial accreditation and every 2 years thereafter.
The Pennsylvania Bar Institute is pleased to present this initial training requirement. Join our expert faculty for a program that will meet and surpass the requirements set down by DVA .
Please Note: It is the view of the DVA that you must complete the initial accreditation process before taking the CLE requirement. Should you have questions about the DVA CLE requirement, you can call 202-461-4995 for clarification.
The certificate that will be issued to anyone completing this online course will serve as evidence for the Department of Veteran`s Affairs that you have successfully completed the CLE requirement.
Recorded during a live webcast in August 2010.