What legal services does Tom provide?
Tom represents veterans and dependents who appeal negative decisions from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] at the Agency Level [VA Regional Office], Board of Veterans Appeals [BVA] and before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and Federal Circuit. Tom, however, also assists in the filing of original claims with VA for Disability Compensation Benefits and Pension Benefits, to include Aid and Attendance. He answers questions and provides guidance in connection with VA health care benefits.
Does Tom only provide legal representation for Veterans and Dependents of Veterans in connection with VA Disability Benefits?
Answer: No; Tom from 2008 until retirement in 2015, researched and drafted proposed and final rulemakings for VA, specifically focused upon VA Disability Benefits. Tom is available to provide legal advice as to potentially submitting public comments to VA, and actually drafting and submitting on behalf of interested parties, comments to VA that pertain to VA's proposed regulations.
Does Tom provide research and drafting on behalf of clients who desire to file Amicus Curiae [Friend of the Court] briefs with the United States Supreme Court?
Answer: Yes. Tom recently drafted a major portion of the pro-veteran Amicus Brief that can be found here and was filed with the United States Supreme Court. Tom, in 2015, drafted a significant portion of, and filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a pro-veteran Amicus Brief that can be found here.
What type of experience does Tom have before Courts?
Answer: While working for VA as an attorney, Tom filed multiple legal briefs with the CAVC, and appeared as lead counsel in oral arguments before CAVC. Prior to joining VA in 1999, Tom represented the federal government in court as a Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force. Also, while in private law practice, Tom represented clients before the Courts of New York and Pennsylvania.
Is Tom a veteran?
Answer: Yes. Tom served on active duty as an Air Force Judge Advocate from 1987 to 1991, and as an Air Force reservist until 2009. Also, Tom comes from a family of Veterans. Both of his grandfathers served in the Army in WW I; his Dad served in the Navy in WWII; his uncle is a former POW from WWII; and two of Tom's cousins served in Vietnam, one in the Marines and the other the Army.
Does Tom provide advice to not-for-profit organizations about policy matters that involve VA Disability Benefits?
Answer: Yes. While working for VA, Tom acquired extensive experience working on policy matters that pertain to VA Disability Benefits.
Is Tom permitted to receive compensation in return for providing counsel to and representation of Veterans and their Dependents?
Answer: Federal law does not permit attorneys to charge or collect fees for representation that takes place in connection with the filing of a claim for VA benefits. An attorney is permitted to help a veteran or a claimant, without charge, to prepare and file an application to VA for benefits. A fee, however, may be charged for services provided, after VA makes an initial decision, and the filing of a notice of disagreement [NOD]. After an NOD is filed, an attorney such as Tom may represent and receive compensation, for representation before the VA Regional Office, Board of Veterans Appeals and a Court.
VA Disability Compensation and Pension Benefits
Helping Veterans and Dependents of Veterans
LAW OFFICE OF THOMAS J. KNIFFEN