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The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) manages VA's
To ensure that claimants for benefits have responsible, qualified representation in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veterans' benefits. 38 C.F.R. § 14.626.
New definition: "Representation" means the acts associated with representing a claimant in a proceeding before VA pursuant to a properly executed and filed VA Form 21-22, Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant's Representative, or VA Form 21-22a, Appointment of Individual of as Claimant's Representative.
38 C.F.R. §§ 20.609 and 20.610 (fees and expenses) moved to 38 C.F.R. §§14.636 and 14.637 . You may generally refer to 38 C.F.R. part 14 for the law on representation before the Department.
Why is the subject of accreditation important to an AFC?
With one exception, only accredited individuals can represent claimants before VA.
Only accredited agents and attorneys may charge fees.
In accrediting individuals, VA holds them out to veterans as competent and qualified to provide representation. If VA receives information to the contrary, it is obligated to investigate and, when necessary, cancel or suspend accreditation as appropriate.
No individual may act as an agent or attorney in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims before VA without first being “recognized” (accredited) by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (38 U.S.C. § 5901).
The Secretary may “recognize” (accredit) representatives of recognized VSOs for purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims before VA (38 U.S.C. § 5902).
New regulations : Agents and attorneys must apply to OGC for accreditation on a modified VA Form 21a ( § 14.629) .
Old regulations: Attorneys did not apply for accreditation.
In the near future, OGC will post searchable information concerning individuals’ accreditation status on its website at http:// www.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp . In the interim, OGC’s Professional Staff Group II can provide you with the accreditation status of a particular individual. Call 202-461-7699 or email email@example.com.
"Representative" means a person who has been recommended by a recognized organization and accredited by VA ( § 14.627) .
"Recognition" means VA certification of an organization to represent claimants (§ 14.628).
"Accreditation" means the authority granted by VA to representatives, agents, and attorneys to assist claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for VA benefits (§ 14.629).