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Get help from an accredited representative

If you need help filing a claim or appeal, you may want to work with an accredited attorney, a claims agent, or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO). We trust these professionals because they’re trained and certified in the VA claims and appeals processes. They can help you with VA-related needs.

VSOs work on behalf of Veterans and service members—as well as their dependents and survivors. Find out more about accredited representatives and how they can help you.

What does it take to be an accredited representative or a VSO?

Accredited representatives and VSOs need to meet these requirements:

  • Pass an exam
  • Pass a background check
  • Take continuing-education courses to make sure they’re providing the most up-to-date information

Recognized organizations and individuals can legally represent a Veteran, service member, dependent, or survivor before VA. Non-recognized organizations and individuals can provide information, but can’t be representatives.

Note: Veterans Service Officers work for Veterans Service Organizations (both are called VSOs), as well as for local government offices.

What does an accredited representative or a VSO do?

Accredited representatives and VSOs can help you understand and apply for VA benefits, like these:

  • Financial support (monthly payments)
  • Education
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)
  • Home loans
  • Life insurance
  • Pension
  • Health care
  • Burial benefits

These trained professionals can also help in these ways:

  • Help you gather supporting documents (like a doctor’s report or medical test results)
  • File a claim or appeal on your behalf
  • Provide added support, like helping with transportation to medical appointments or emergency funds

Note: If your claim has a clear factual or legal error, your accredited representative or VSO can request a faster Higher-Level Review decision through a new pilot program called Claim Accuracy Request (CAR).

Learn more about a Claim Accuracy Request (PDF)

What does it cost to use an accredited representative or a VSO?

In general, no individual or organization may charge you a fee to help you file your initial application for benefits. But they may charge you for unusual expenses. It’s only after we’ve made a decision about your original claim that VA-accredited claims agents and attorneys may charge for their services. Make sure you ask up front what, if any, fees you’ll be charged. If you believe a claims agent or attorney charged a fee that’s too high, you can challenge it.

Find out more in the “How to Challenge a Fee” guide (PDF)

How do I find an accredited representative or a VSO?

You can find an accredited representative or a VSO in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Go to eBenefits to find a local representative (including a recognized VSO, an attorney, or a claims agent) by state/territory, zip code, or the organization’s name.
    Go to eBenefits
  • Or search the VA Office of the General Counsel’s list to find VA-recognized organizations and VA-accredited individuals by name, city, state, or zip code.
    Search the VA Office of the General Counsel’s list

How do I set up an accredited representative or a VSO to work on my behalf?

You’ll need to either use eBenefits or fill out a form and mail it in.

Choose 1 of these ways to get set up:

  • Use eBenefits to let us know you’ll be working with a representative or to change your current representation.
    Go to eBenefits
  • To have a VSO help you, fill out an Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative (VA Form 21-22).
    Get VA Form 21-22 to download
  • To have a claims agent or attorney help you, fill out an Appointment of Individual as Claimant’s Representative (VA Form 21-22a).
    Get VA Form 21-22a to download

If you’re filling out one of the forms, you’ll need to mail it to your nearest VA regional office. Please speak to the service organization or representative before you send your request.

Find a VA regional office near you