The Penn State Law Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic provides pro bono (free) counseling services for veterans and Pennsylvania Offices of Veterans Affairs primarily concerning appeals of veterans disability, pension and education benefits claims. Occasionally, the Clinic provides counseling services for the filing of a complex veterans disability or pension benefits claim where extensive medical research and evidence is required to document the claim.
The Clinic does not handle USERRA, SCRA, or 38 U.S.C. § 1151 claims, discharge upgrades, or civil or criminal law matters. If you need legal assistance in one of those areas, we encourage you to review our Veterans’ Legal Resources List webpage. The Clinic provides links on that webpage to you only as a convenience and does not imply endorsement by Penn State Law.
If you have a Veterans Benefits Claim or need assistance in filing a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact your local Veterans Affairs Office. A list of Veterans Affairs offices in Pennsylvania can be found here. Every county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has an established local Veterans Affairs Office, which is typically housed within the local county government office complex or courthouse. These offices provide an array of services to assist veterans in filing claims. Typically, local Veterans Affairs Offices answer both specific and general questions by veterans, dependents, and the general public regarding matters related to veterans. In addition, the offices discuss and submit applications for all related benefits to which veterans and their dependents may be entitled, such as: compensation and pension, hospitalization and outpatient care, education, home loans, insurance, special housing and automobile grants, and other benefits too numerous to mention that are provided by the VA or other federal, state, county, or local agencies or organizations.
If you need assistance with an appeal of a VA benefits claim or the filing of a complex VA benefits claim where medical research and evidence is required to document the claim, please complete the application below, and someone from our team will respond.
Before submitting an application, please note the following:
- The Clinic is located in the 329 Building on the University Park Campus of Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania, but services are provided throughout the Commonwealth. Occasionally, the Clinic represents veterans from out of state for appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims or in higher courts of appeal, or on remand to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
- Penn State Law students located in University Park perform the services under the supervision of the clinic director. The students together with the clinic director screen inquiries from potential veteran clients or Pennsylvania Offices of Veterans Affairs who apply for assistance by completing the online application at the bottom of this webpage to make sure that the request falls within the expertise of the Clinic and the Clinic has capacity as explained further in item #3 below.
- The Clinic is usually only able to accept new matters at the beginning of each law semester, usually in July and December, or earlier. We can only handle a limited number of clients each semester. New students join the Clinic each semester. Accordingly, acceptance as a client of the Clinic is not guaranteed just because an application is submitted. Acceptance for representation is ultimately based upon a variety of factors, including: educational value for our law students, timing of deadlines, availability of resources, and absence of conflicts of interest. The Clinic responds to every applicant and provides guidance for seeking legal assistance from other individuals or organizations when the Clinic is unable to represent the applicant.
The Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic has reached capacity and cannot accept any new clients until August 2023. Please also check the tab on our website that provides information and links to other legal resources and organizations that may be able to help you. We wish you the best.
PLEASE NOTE: Completing and submitting an application or otherwise contacting the Clinic does not establish an attorney-client relationship between applicant and the Clinic. The Clinic will not begin any work for the applicant until the Clinic informs the applicant that a matter has been accepted and a representation agreement has been signed by both the applicant and the Clinic. While the application for services is under review and until there is a representation agreement signed by both the applicant and the Clinic, no attorney-client relationship exists (as the applicant is not a client of the Clinic). The applicant, of course, has the right to continue to look for an attorney and decline legal services from the Clinic (if offered).