VA certifies those who commit fraud against it. Sadly, elderly veterans are paying for this mistake. When the VA allowed the accrediting of Veteran Claims Agents, the door was flung open for abuse, fraud, and exploitation.
Lawyers and financial planners jumped on board to get accredited by the VA, which is a fairly easy thing to do. Then these business people and organizations attracted clients by radio and newspaper ads promising to educate/advocate for the veteran for VA money and benefits. They don’t present all the programs a vet may be entitled to, only Aid-Attendance and/or Pension. They then assess an elderly veteran’s resources, and determine if the vet meets the VA criteria for Aid/Attendance or Pension. Should the veteran NOT meet VA’s financial requirements, they will help them to do so by repositioning assets. This was described to me by agents of the American Association of Wartime Veterans (AAWV) and many others such as the Veteran’s Assistance Association.
Remember, pension withits higher level benefits is a “needs” based program. The VA’s purpose for these benefits is to aid veterans (and their widows), 65 and older, with wartime duty, with some monetary support. They must be permanently disabled with a low level of financial income as set by congress. The pension was intended to keep a wartime veteran with non-service connected medical conditions from being impoverished and to help pay for medical care. Thus, not all veterans are truly eligible, nor is it a rescue program.
These “pension poachers,” as the U.S. General Accounting Office call them, use loop holes in VA law to appear ethical, and then endanger the vet’s financial status further. The VA will attach a lien against future benefits if they find out a veteran hid assets to become eligible for their benefits. There are also significant problems with Medicare should the veteran do as these poachers suggest.
Again, the VA’s pension program is not a rescue operation, nor is it for everyone, only those with wartime service, disabled, whose liquid assets are below $80,000. It is a program that is often surpassed by other programs such as service connected Disability Compensation or survivors’ Dependants Indemnity Compensation (DIC). But if the poachers will not talk about the better benefits, then how can they be true veterans’ advocates?
These advocacy groups frequently use a video of NBC’s Brian Williams to introduce themselves and gain credibility by which they coax the veteran or widow into rearranging their financial assets with them to gain eligibility for the VA Pension. Whether you meet them in an elder facility or your home, the bottom line is they want you to buy products from them. This is the basic approach to the veteran or spouse.
Now, using the VA’s accreditation, these people will bundle services around their accreditation along with fees for financial planning and/or legal consultation. Often they do not tell the client about these fees till the end. Often they will charge fees for other unrequested services, even when no claim is made to the VA.
If you feel that you have been hurt in a situation like this and want to talk about it, please contact VeteranFraud@gmail.com or this paper at email@example.com.
There are options available to you.