§ 14.631Powers of attorney; disclosure of claimant information.
(a) A power of attorney, executed on either VA Form 21-22, “Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant's Representative,” or VA Form 21-22a, “Appointment of Attorney or Agent as Claimant's Representative,” is required to represent a claimant before VA and to authorize VA's disclosure of information to any person or organization representing a claimant before the Department. Without the signature of a person providing representation for a particular claim under § 14.630 of this part or an accredited veterans service organization representative, agent, or attorney, the appointment is invalid, and the person appointed to provide representation is under no obligation to do so. The power of attorney shall meet the following requirements:
(1) Contain signature by:
(i) The claimant, or
(ii) The claimant's guardian, or
(iii) In the case of an incompetent, minor, or otherwise incapacitated person without a guardian, the following in the order named—spouse, parent, other relative or friend (if interests are not adverse), or the director of the hospital in which the claimant is maintained; and
(iv) An individual providing representation on a particular claim under § 14.630 of this part or an accredited veterans service organization representative, agent, or attorney; and
(2) Shall be presented to the appropriate VA office for filing in the veteran's claims folder.
(b) VA may, for any purpose, treat a power of attorney naming as a claimant's representative an organization recognized under § 14.628, a particular office of such an organization, or an individual representative of such an organization as an appointment of the entire organization as the claimant's representative, unless the claimant specifically indicates in the power of attorney a desire to appoint only the individual representative. Such specific indication must be made in the space on the power-of-attorney form for designation of the representative and must use the word “only” with reference to the individual representative.
(c) An organization, individual providing representation on a particular claim under § 14.630, representative, agent, or attorney named in a power of attorney executed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section may withdraw from representation provided before a VA agency of original jurisdiction if such withdrawal would not adversely impact the claimant's interests. This section is applicable until an agency of original jurisdiction certifies an appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals after which time 38 CFR 20.608 governs withdrawal from representation before the Board. Withdrawal is also permissible if a claimant persists in a course of action that the organization or individual providing representation reasonably believes is fraudulent or criminal and is furthered through the representation of the organization or individual; the claimant fails to uphold an obligation to the organization or individual providing representation regarding the services of the organization or individual; or other good cause for withdrawal exists. An organization or individual providing representation withdraws from representation by notifying the claimant, the VA organization in possession of the claims file, and the agency of original jurisdiction in writing prior to taking any action to withdraw and takes steps necessary to protect the claimant's interests including, but not limited to, giving advance notice to the claimant, allowing time for appointment of alternative representation, and returning any documents provided by VA in the course of the representation to the agency of original jurisdiction or pursuant to the claimant's instructions, to the organization or individual substituted as the representative, agent, or attorney of record. Upon withdrawing from representation, all property of the claimant must be returned to the claimant. If the claimant is unavailable, all documents provided by VA for purposes of representation must be returned to the VA organization in possession of the claims file. Any other property of the claimant must be maintained by the organization or individual according to applicable law.
(d) Questions concerning the validity or effect of powers of attorney shall be referred to the Regional Counsel of jurisdiction for initial determination. This determination may be appealed to the General Counsel.
(1) Only one organization, representative, agent, or attorney will be recognized at one time in the prosecution of a particular claim. Except as provided in § 14.629(c) and paragraph (f)(2) of this section, all transactions concerning the claim will be conducted exclusively with the recognized organization, representative, agent, or attorney of record until notice of a change, if any, is received by the appropriate office of VA.
(2) An organization named in a power of attorney executed in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section may employ an attorney to represent a claimant in a particular claim. Unless the attorney is an accredited representative of the organization, the written consent of the claimant shall be required.
(1) A power of attorney may be revoked at any time, and an agent or attorney may be discharged at any time. Unless a claimant specifically indicates otherwise, the receipt of a new power of attorney executed by the claimant and the organization or individual providing representation shall constitute a revocation of an existing power of attorney.
(2) If an agent or attorney limits the scope of his or her representation regarding a particular claim by so indicating on VA Form 21-22a, or a claimant authorizes a person to provide representation in a particular claim under § 14.630, such specific authority shall constitute a revocation of an existing general power of attorney filed under paragraph (a) of this section only as it pertains to, and during the pendency of, that particular claim. Following the final determination of such claim, the general power of attorney shall remain in effect as to any new or reopened claim.