§ 13.40 - Representation of beneficiaries in the fiduciary program.
The provisions of 38 CFR 14.626 through 14.629 and 14.631 through 14.637 regarding accreditation and representation of VA claimants and beneficiaries in proceedings before VA are applicable to representation of beneficiaries before VA in fiduciary matters governed by this part.
(a) Accreditation. Only VA-accredited attorneys, claims agents, and accredited representatives of VA-recognized veterans service organizations who have complied with the power-of-attorney requirements in § 14.631 of this chapter may represent beneficiaries before VA in fiduciary matters.
(b) Standards of conduct. Accredited individuals who represent beneficiaries in fiduciary matters must comply with the general and specific standards of conduct prescribed in § 14.632(a) through (c) of this chapter, and attorneys must also comply with the standards prescribed in § 14.632(d). For purposes of this section:
(1) A fiduciary matter is not a claim for VA benefits. However, the term claimant in § 14.632 of this chapter includes VA beneficiaries who are in the fiduciary program, and the term claim in § 14.632 includes a fiduciary matter that is pending before VA.
(2) The provisions of § 14.632(c)(7) through (9) of this chapter mean that an accredited individual representing a beneficiary in a fiduciary matter may not:
(i) Delay or refuse to cooperate in the processing of a fiduciary appointment or any other fiduciary matter, including but not limited to a field examination prescribed by § 13.120 and the investigation of a proposed fiduciary prescribed by § 13.100;
(ii) Mislead, threaten, coerce, or deceive a beneficiary in the fiduciary program or a proposed or current fiduciary regarding payment of benefits or the rights of beneficiaries in the fiduciary program; or
(iii) Engage in, or counsel or advise a beneficiary or proposed or current fiduciary to engage in, acts or behavior prejudicial to the fair and orderly conduct of administrative proceedings before VA.
(3) The Hub Manager will submit a written report regarding an alleged violation of the standards of conduct prescribed in this section to the VA Chief Counsel who administers the accreditation program for a determination regarding further action, including suspension or cancellation of accreditation under § 14.633 of this chapter, and notification to any agency, court, or bar to which the attorney, agent, or representative is admitted to practice.
(c) Fees. Except as prescribed in paragraphs (c)(1)(i) through (iii) of this section, an accredited attorney or claims agent may charge a reasonable fixed or hourly fee for representation services provided to a beneficiary in a fiduciary matter, provided that the fee meets the requirements of § 14.636 of this chapter.
(1) The following provisions of § 14.636 of this chapter do not apply in fiduciary matters:
(i) Fees under § 14.636(e) of this chapter, to the extent that the regulation authorizes a fee based on a percentage of benefits recovered;
(ii) The presumptions prescribed by § 14.636(f) of this chapter based upon a percentage of a past-due benefit amount. In fiduciary matters, the reasonableness of a fixed or hourly-rate fee will be determined based upon application of the reasonableness factors prescribed in § 14.636(e); and
(iii) Direct payment of fees by VA out of past-due benefits under § 14.636(g)(2) and (h) of this chapter.
(2) An accredited attorney or claims agent who wishes to charge a fee for representing a beneficiary in a fiduciary matter must comply with the fee agreement filing requirement prescribed in § 14.636(g)(3) of this chapter.
(3) VA, the beneficiary, or the beneficiary's fiduciary may challenge the reasonableness of a fee charged by an accredited attorney or claims agent using the procedures prescribed in § 14.636(i) of this chapter.