Frequently Asked Questions
Do you work with individual veterans?
We work with individual veterans, as well as lawyers, law firms, agents, and VSOs.
What type of appeals do you handle?
Attig | Curran | Steel focuses its appellate work at 4 levels of the VA appellate system.
Appeals of VA Rating Decisions (AMA & Legacy): If you receive a VA ratings decision that denies service connection, lowballs your disability rating, or sets an incorrect effective date, the law firm of Attig | Curran | Steel can help with appeals of those decisions. How we help depends on whether your claim is a "Legacy" or "AMA/Modernized" appeal.
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: We appeal BVA Decisions that deny your benefits to this Article I federal appellate court. The CAVC, as it is known, reviews BVA decisions for clearly erroneous factual findings, reviews legal findings that lack adequate reasons or bases, and reviews statutory and constitutional issues “de novo”.
U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals: This elite Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has a very narrow jurisdiction over adverse decisions of the CAVC. Chris Attig has briefed and orally argued many cases before the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, where he was admitted in 2006.
Supreme Court of the United States: In rare circumstances, a veteran or survivor may petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of review, commonly called the Writ of Certiorari. Should a majority of the justices of this highest court in the land decide that the “Writ of Cert” raises an issue of significant legal importance, the Supreme Court may grant review of a decision of the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Chris Attig is admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Do I have to fire my agency attorney to hire Attig | Curran | Steel for representation at the Veterans Court?
While the VA only allows a veteran to designate one attorney at a time, representation at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals do not require us to enter an appearance as your client’s attorney before the VA.
As such, your agency attorney's VA Form 21-22 or 21-22a remains “live” throughout the course of your appeal to the CAVC.
Does it cost me anything to hire your firm?
Yes and no. It depends on whether you hire us for an appeal to the Veterans Court, or an appeal of VA Ratings Decision,.
Fees for Appeals to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC)
If the veteran or survivor is unable to prove a financial hardship, they will have to pay a $50 filing fee at the CAVC.
The veteran or survivor will not, however, have to pay attorney fees. If an attorney at Attig | Curran | Steel substantially prevails in an appeal to the CAVC, the firm petitions the Court for attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). We ask the Court to order the VA to pay our attorney fees — not out of your client’s past due benefits, but out of the VA’s own operating budget.
We do not charge veterans, survivors, or their administrative attorneys contingency fees for representation at the CAVC.
If we lose your appeal to the CAVC, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court, we do not charge you or your client attorney fees.
Fees for Appeals of VA Rating Decisions.
If the VA denies your claim for VA disability compensation, we typically charge a contingency fee. That means that you do not pay us unless we win past-due benefits for you.
The fee varies between 20% to 30% of past-due benefits, based on a number of factors such as the complexity of the case, the amount of work needed to be done, the risk of loss in your appeal, how long we expect the appeal to take, etc.
Attig | Curran | Steel typically advances the costs in a case for expert opinions, etc. If we recover past-due benefits for you, you will have to pay us back out of your portion of the past-due benefits.
How long do appeals to the CAVC take?
If a case requires full briefing to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the process can take 1-3 years, more or less.
About 80% of the cases we take to the CAVC resolve much more quickly — usually around 8-10 months.
When the VA’s attorneys at the VA Office of General Counsel agree with our presentation of legal or factual error, and agree to send the case back to the BVA Veterans Law Judge to get it right, we join them in filing what is called a Joint Motion to Remand, or “JMR”. The JMR is a tool that quickly sends the appeal back to the BVA for correction of factual and legal errors.
Do I have to live in Arkansas to retain your firm?
Jennifer Steel's grandmother used to say, “You’d be a durned fool not to live here.”
While we all tend to agree, neither you nor your client needs to live in Arkansas to take advantage of the experience and skill of the appellate team at Attig | Curran | Steel.
We work with veterans all around the United States and even in places like Thailand, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Attig | Curran | Steel is a leader in law firm technology; we operate in a 100% paperless environment. Wherever we have access to an internet connection, we have access to advocacy.
What is the “VA Form 21” Blog?
The VA Form 21 blog is written by attorney Chris Attig for VSOs, agents, and attorneys who represent veterans before the BVA.
The goal of the blog is to help busy veterans advocates to stay current on the law coming out of the appellate courts, improve their practical advocacy skills, and build profitable law firms that prioritize attorney wellness to ensure advocates can continue to help veterans long into the future.
Are you affiliated with the Veterans Law Blog®
The Veterans Law Blog® is a separate business entity and project of Chris Attig. Through the Veterans Law Blog®, Mr. Attig teaches veterans how to cut through the fog of VA claims and take back the power by proving, arguing and hopefully winning their own VA claims. The law firm of Attig | Curran | Steel does pay to advertise on the Veterans Law Blog®, but otherwise we are not associated with the blog.