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Veterans with disability claims will get free legal help in ABA pilot program with VA

Posted Jul 10, 2014 5:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The ABA is cooperating with the Department of Veterans Affairs in a pilot program to provide free legal representation to vets with pending disability claims.

The Veterans’ Claims Assistance Network, known as ABA VCAN, is getting underway with pilot sites in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Chicago, according to an ABA press release. The program targets unrepresented veterans who are in the claims backlog at those locations.

The program is open to preselected veterans in those areas who receive a letter informing them of their eligibility, the press release says. The letters will contain a code and release forms, and they will instruct the vets to contact ABA VCAN within 15 days of the date on the letter.

After the vets’ claims are fully developed by pro bono lawyers, the VA will provide expedited review of the claims.

The volunteer lawyers will receive training from the ABA and the Legal Services Corp. and will be accredited by Veterans Affairs. Lawyers can volunteer now; more information is available here. Information for veterans is available here.

The press release quotes ABA President James R. Silkenat. “Lawyers fundamentally understand what it takes to assemble evidence and present a persuasive case,” Silkenat said. “It is a natural fit to engage the legal skills of lawyers with the need of veterans for assistance in making their cases to the VA for disability compensation. The ABA is happy it can assist in expediting the backlogged claims.”

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