After returning from military service you may face challenges in your efforts to obtain the benefits you honorably earned.
That includes accessing disability benefits when your military service has resulted in a physical or mental health condition.
The process of reintegrating into civilian life and obtaining needed benefits and services can be complex, especially for veterans dealing with physical or mental disabilities. A number of veterans organizations exist to address these complexities and help our veterans get the benefits they rightfully deserve.
- What Is Considered a Veterans Organization?
- WATCH: Are You My VSO?
- Why Might a Veteran Need the Help of a VSO?
- Do I have to pay for services from an accredited VSO?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using accredited VSO services to file my claim?
- Where do I find information about accredited VSOs?
- How do I know if a company is accredited?
- Can I Use a VSO and also work with VA Claims Insider?
- Connecting with a Veterans Organization Near You
- About the Author
When you need assistance preparing or filing a VA disability claim, you may want to contact a Veteran Service Organization (VSO). Your local VSO can help you with your disability claim—a process many veterans find difficult—as well as to locate and access other benefits and services that may be available to you.
Read on to find out more about what a Veterans Organization is and how these organizations may be able to help you.
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What Is Considered a Veterans Organization?
A VA-accredited Veterans Organization, or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) is a congressionally chartered organization whose purpose is preparing, presenting, and prosecuting VA claims under the laws set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs. That is the requirement you must meet to be recognized by the VA or Veterans Association.
There are other veterans organizations that the VA does not accredit, including some veterans’ charities or other veteran assistance organizations composed of current or former service members. These are often 501c organizations that provide services to the veteran community. Under IRC 501(c)(19), these veterans organizations are permitted to conduct social welfare activities and recreational activities without adversely affecting their tax-exempt status.
WATCH: Are You My VSO?
Why Might a Veteran Need the Help of a VSO?
Veterans Service Organizations help provide a number of resources for veterans’ needs, including the following:
- Preparation and presentation of VA claims
- News and updates on the VA healthcare system
- Connection to support networks
- Referrals for local housing
- Referrals for transportation
- Disaster relief resources
- Volunteer opportunities
Do I have to pay for services from an accredited VSO?
No, you don’t have to pay for services from an accredited veterans organization. Accredited VSOs provide their VA claims services free of charge. Charitable veterans organizations that provide other kinds of support rely on grants and donations to sustain their operations, so their services are free of charge.
There is a distinction between a VA-recognized veterans organization and a VA-accredited attorney. Attorneys can charge for their services.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using accredited VSO services to file my claim?
The advantages of using a veterans organization to file your disability claim include free access to attorneys and claims agents who have knowledge of disability law and legal processes related to VA claims. It can also be helpful to get support preparing and filing hour claim if you don’t feel up to doing it yourself.
The disadvantage of filing your claim using VSO services is that you don’t maintain full ownership over the process, as someone else is representing you.
Also, since many VSOs are overwhelmed, they often can’t spend as much time researching and developing a claim, or keeping up on all the details. Therefore, the claims they file are often unsuccessful, with the veteran they’re representing receiving a lower rating than they might have been granted had a more thorough (fully developed) claim been filed. Some claims may even be denied due to this unfortunate reality.
Where do I find information about accredited VSOs?
VA.gov has a complete directory of Veterans Service Organizations. You can also visit your local Regional Office for a referral to VSO branches in your area.
How do I know if a company is accredited?
The organization’s website should offer information regarding its status as a 501c3 or VA-accredited VSO agency.
Can I Use a VSO and also work with VA Claims Insider?
Yes! VACI services are complementary to VSO services. VA Claims Insider can educate you extensively, coach you in assembling a fully developed claim, and connect you with the medical evidence you’ll need to win a successful claim at the highest rating possible. We don’t prepare or file your claim for you.
Connecting with a Veterans Organization Near You
If you need a VSO to help file your disability claim, or assist you with other needs or services, please check VA.gov or contact your local Regional Office.
About the Author
Rebecca Hatley is a veteran coach with VA Claims Insider. Coming from a family with a long line of military service, she has always held a deep appreciation for the men and women who serve our country. She believes that our veterans deserve our gratitude for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe.
Rebecca’s professional background began in the Health and Human Services field. She began working closely with veterans as the director for a home care company and a veteran intake coordinator. In that position, she says, “I realized how underutilized VA healthcare and pension benefits really are. These things are widely misunderstood by veterans and VA employees alike!”
Rebecca has spent hours speaking with the VA, coordinating care for veterans, and researching their healthcare and pension benefits, so that it has become her niche —and one she loves. She says, “I realized how much I enjoy advocating for veterans and hearing their stories. I strive to serve them the best that I can by providing accurate information and quality service.”
You can connect with Rebecca at [email protected]