Our nation’s veterans are faced with untold challenges as they serve their country.  Once they have completed their service, qualifying veterans and their survivors may receive Veterans’ Affairs (VA) pension benefits. These VA pension benefits serve to support the veteran and their family.  Unfortunately, veterans with VA pensions may face another challenge when it comes to dishonest people who, under the guise of being “advisors,” seek to trick them into paying for investments, fees, and services in relation to their benefit. The good news is that today’s veterans may be able to guard against these scams by being aware of some of the common tactics that these individuals employ.

Senior veterans are often targets of these unscrupulous people.  The individuals often hold “seminars” at assisted living facilities and in retirement communities during which seemingly professional people will offer to help senior veterans qualify for supplemental Aid and Attendance benefits by transferring their assets into a trust.  Veterans who fall prey to this scheme often find that they have been charged massive fees by the scammers and may now not qualify for the benefit they were seeking.  Further, Veterans may also find that by moving their assets in order to qualify for this benefit, they have disqualified themselves from other needed benefits such as Medicaid.

One tactic people may use is to offer the veteran additional pension benefits in exchange for the purchase of a financial product such an annuity or insurance policy.  This arrangement seldom works to benefit of anyone other than the scammer.  Some individuals may also offer to help a Veteran apply for their pension benefits or supplemental benefits for a small fee.  However, it is not necessary to pay to apply for VA benefits.  In fact, advisors who are qualified to assist veterans are normally not allowed to charge for their services. While a professional person such as an attorney is permitted to charge for their advice regarding benefit eligibility, no one should charge a fee just for helping someone apply for their benefits.

Another ploy is when the Veteran is approached with an offer to receive a lump sum payment for their future monthly disability or pension benefits.  Although it is generally illegal for VA benefits to be assigned to another person or entity, those attempting this scheme will find ways to present the arrangement which appears legal.  Further, even if this arrangement could be structured legally, the result of such an arrangement would be for the Veteran to trade their valuable benefit for significantly less money than it is worth.

Any professional who purports to be able to assist you in accessing your VA benefits should be accredited by the VA.  Therefore, if you are approached by anyone claiming to be in the business of helping you file for or access your VA pension benefits, it will be important to ascertain if they are VA accredited.

Both Glenn Matecun and Monika Burrell are Accredited Attorneys by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.  We understand veteran benefits and pensions and can help you contemplate all of your choices and avoid pension benefit scams.  We also have a Preliminary Qualification Worksheet to determine whether you or a loved one may qualify for Veterans benefits.  Please contact us online or by phone if you would like our free Preliminary Qualification Worksheet, or if we may be of other assistance.

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