Accreditation & Discipline - Office of General Counsel
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Office of General Counsel

 

Accreditation & Discipline

COVID-19 Update (May 5, 2021) We have successfully launched a new online examination platform!

For the protection of the Office of General Counsel (OGC) staff and VA accreditation applicants, OGC had suspended the scheduling of all claims agent examinations administered at OGC testing locations. Because the in-person testing restriction remains in place, OGC now instead offers an online examination to all claims agent applicants who have been approved to sit for the exam.

We will offer this online examination several times throughout the year on pre-determined dates. The next two examination dates will be July 27, 2021, and October 26, 2021. The topics which may be covered on the examination include compensation and pension programs, claim procedures, appeals, agents’ fees, and waiver of indebtedness. We recommend studying title 38, United States Code, chapters 1, 11, 13, 15, 51, 53, 59, 71, and 72, and title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 1, 3, 4, 14, 19, and 20. The questions on the claims agent examination are primarily based on information which can be found in these statutes and regulations.

As our staff is still working remotely, we continue to ask for your patience and that, to the extent feasible, any submissions to our office still be made via email (ogcaccreditationmailbox@va.gov) or fax (202-495-5457) rather than through U.S. Postal mail.

Attorneys, Agents, and VSO Representatives

Accreditation and Recognition Search | Recognition of Organizations | Accreditation FAQs |

Fact Sheets:

Accreditation Forms:

  • VA Form 21 - Application for Accreditation as Service Organization Representative
  • Va Form 21A - Application for Accreditation as a Claims Agent or Attorney

These accreditation applications may be mailed to the address indicated on the form, faxed to the Office of the General Counsel (022D) at (202) 495-5457, or attached (as a pdf file) to an e-mail sent to the Accreditation Mailbox ogcaccreditationmailbox@va.gov.

Accreditation Inquiries:

Accreditation questions, comments, and requests for correction of information reported by the Office of the General Counsel's online accreditation search application may be sent to the Accreditation Mailbox ogcaccreditationmailbox@va.gov.

Purpose of VA Accreditation:

VA accreditation is for the sole purpose of providing representation services to claimants before VA and does not imply that a representative is qualified to provide financial planning services or is otherwise endorsed by VA.  VA accreditation may not be used for marketing financial products or promoting a financial services business.  Despite VA’s efforts to ensure accredited individuals are responsible and qualified to provide representation on VA claims, claimants should exercise caution when selecting a representative.

Complaints:

Complaints mailbox pictureNew! Due to the large number of complaints that the VA accreditation program is receiving that do not fall succinctly within our jurisdiction to investigate, we recommend that you submit any complaint about an individual or organization assisting with VA pension benefits  through the Federal Trade Commission's complaint assistant.  The VA accreditation program will be immediately notified of every complaint filed through the above link.  However, in addition to possible action by VA, by submitting your complaint through the Federal Trade Commission, your complaint will also be accessible to other Federal and State law enforcement authorities for their possible investigation and prosecution. 

Likewise, if your complaint involves claims assistance or representation provided to you on a VA compensation claim (or another non-pension benefit) and you believe that other State and Federal laws and regulations apart from those involving VA accreditation may have been violated, you may also submit your complaint through the Federal Trade Commission's complaint assistant.

Finally, if your complaint is against a VA accredited attorney, claims agent, or veterans service organization (VSO) representative (please confirm the individual’s VA-accreditation status by locating his or her name here) and you believe that your complaint only involves a violation of the standards of conduct for VA-accredited individuals or if you do not wish for other law enforcement entities to immediately be notified of your complaint, then you may file your complaint directly with the VA accreditation program by submitting your written complaint, and a completed VA Form 3288 that will allow us to disclose your name and the information contained in the complaint to the VA-accredited practitioner, by mailing your complaint to the Office of the General Counsel (022D), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20420.  For questions on how to file a complaint with the VA accreditation program, or assistance in filling out the consent form, please call 202-461-7699.

Representation Forms:

  • VA Form 21-22 -  Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant's Representative
  • VA Form 21-22A -  Appointment of Individual As Claimant's Representative

These appointment forms must be filed with the VA office that has jurisdiction over the claim (generally a VA Regional Office or the Board of Veterans' Appeals).  Do not file these forms with the Office of the General Counsel.

Fee Agreements:
 
On December 29, 2015, VA published a final rule amending 38 C.F.R. § 14.636(g) and (h) to remove the requirement that agents and attorneys file direct-pay fee agreements with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) in Washington, DC.  Under current regulations, fee agreements should only be filed with VA in one location.  Any fee agreement calling for VA to directly pay the agent or the attorney fees from the claimant’s past-due benefit award must be filed with the VBA Regional Office.  For information on where to mail the fee agreement, visit: www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/mailingaddresses.asp.  A fee agreement between an attorney or agent and a VA claimant that does not request for VA direct payment, to the attorney or agent, from the claimant’s past-due benefits should be filed with OGC at: VA Accreditation Program (022D), 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington DC 20420 or via fax (202) 495-5457.  Do not send any other documents regarding the adjudication of the claim or copies of such documents to OGC.  Please note that “violation of or refusal to comply with the laws administered by VA or with the regulations governing practice before VA” may be a basis for cancelling VA accreditation.  38 C.F.R. § 14.633(c)(1).

With respect to VA’s direct payment of fees, attorneys and claims agents must be vendorized with VA’s Financial Management System so that VA can process fee payments through its Financial Servicing Center (FSC).  To initiate this process, please complete and submit VA Form 10091, “VA-FSC Vendor File Request Form” to the FSC using this fax number:  512-460-5221.  Instructions to complete the form are located on page 2 of the form.  If additional information is needed, FSC personnel will contact you by telephone or send you a notification letter.  For more information or if you want to check the status of your VA-FSC Vendor File Request Form, please contact FSC’s Nationwide Vendor File Customer Service by emailing vafscvendot@va.gov or calling 1-877-353-9791.  You do need not to submit VA Form 10091 for each case in which you represent a claimant pursuant to a direct-pay fee agreement.  After you have been enrolled based upon your initial submission, submit a new VA Form 10091 only when you need to update your “Payee/Vendor Information” or “Financial Institution Information.”

Regional Office Contacts:
 
The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has assigned at least one staff member (Agent and Attorney Fee Coordinator) at each of its Regional Offices to act as the primary point-of-contact for accredited agents and attorneys who represent claimants before the Department.  Please address questions regarding specific claims to the Fee Coordinator at the Regional Office that has jurisdiction over the claim.  VBA's Fee Coordinator directory is available at the following link: http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/docs/afclist.xls

Remote Access to Electronic VA Records:

If you are seeking read-only remote access to the electronic Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) claims records of the claimants you represent as an accredited attorney or claims agent, you should contact the access point-of-contact (POC) at the closest regional office.  A list of access POCs is available online at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/cma-poc.asp.

Frequently Asked Questions:
 
For more information about accreditation, continuing legal education, fee agreements, and other representation matters, please review the Office of the General Counsel FAQ page at http://www.va.gov/ogc/accred_faqs.asp.
 
Statutes and Regulations:
 
Chapter 59 of title 38, United States Code, governs the representation of claimants for veterans benefits and the accreditation of representatives, agents, and attorneys. Title 38 is available in its entirety at the U.S. Government Printing Office website at:   http://www.gpoaccess.gov/uscode/index.html 

Sections 14.626 through 14.637 of title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, implement the statutes in chapter 59 governing the representation of claimants for veterans benefits and the accreditation of representatives, agents, and attorneys.  An unofficial searchable version of the Code of Federal Regulations including title 38 is available at the Government Printing Office website at http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&tpl=%2Findex.tpl.

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