WHAT IS A REPRESENTATIVE?
A representative is a person who helps you tell us your side of the story. The representative can help you with written materials you send us. He or she can also go with you to a hearing if you decide you want one.
WHO CAN BE MY REPRESENTATIVE?
There are three kinds of representatives. Each is explained below:
•You can choose an employee of a veterans organization or other service organization which is recognized by VA. On page 2 of this form we have a list of some service organizations that could represent you free of charge.
•You can get a lawyer. The lawyer might work in private practice or for Legal Aid.
•You can get an agent. An agent is anyone other than a lawyer or a service organization who is authorized by VA to speak for you or help you tell your side of the story.
If you don't have a representative and would like one, tell us who you want to represent you. then we'll send you the forms and information you'll need to name your representative.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL HEARING?
A personal hearing is a meeting where you can talk to us about a decision we have made or a decision we are going to make. In most cases, the person who "hears" your claim will be the person who makes the decision. You should bring evidence to help us understand your side of the story.
CAN I BRING SOMEONE TO THE HEARING?
Yes. Besides your representative, you can bring witnesses. A witness is anyone who has personal knowledge about your claim and can give us useful information.
If you don't want a representative, but still want someone to help you at the hearing, one of our Veterans Services Representatives (VSRs) can go to the hearing with you. However, you will need to tell us ahead of time so that the VSR can study your case.
WHAT DOES VA PROVIDE FOR THE HEARING?
Generally the hearing is held at the Regional Office that has your records. We'll provide the room and tape the hearing. Where available, your hearing can also be held at a local VA hospital through a closed circuit TV system. These services are free. We will not be able to pay for your travel, meals, or other expenses.
HOW CAN I REQUEST A HEARING?
If you'd like a personal hearing, simply
write to us and tell us you want one. You can request a hearing by writing to your Regional Office of Jurisdiction (ROJ). To find your local office go to the following website: www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.
Click on the state in which the veteran resides to find the address of the benefits office.
WHEN MUST I REQUEST A HEARING?
If we receive your request for a hearing within 30 days from the date of our letter, we will not make any decisions until we hold the hearing and review the hearing testimony and any evidence presented.
After 30 days you may request a hearing, but we may have already made a decision as explained in our letter.