Veterans are being warned about fraudulent offers of help in qualifying for benefits through the Veterans Pension Program. This type of scam is often directed toward veterans and family members who do not actually qualify for a VA pension.
The New York Times has reported that the VA has been bilked out of billions of dollars through these schemes, which are designed by lawyers, financial advisors and insurance brokers, often in league with retirement communities and assisted-living facilities.
The legitimate Veterans Pension Program helps veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing a tax-free supplemental income benefit to low-income wartime veterans. The monthly benefit is paid to war veterans who are either totally disabled, living in a nursing home, receiving skilled nursing care or are over age 65 and meet income requirements set by Congress. Additional money is available for certain veterans who are housebound or unable to care for themselves.
“DAV National Service Officers are well-versed in all VA benefits programs and provide counseling and claims assistance free of charge,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “So, I highly recommend that anyone with questions about VA pensions should seek this free, expert assistance.”
In determining eligibility, the VA takes into account total family earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends from annuities and net income from farming or a business, as well as assets such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and any property other than your residence and a reasonable lot area. Veterans need to be on guard against anyone who offers to move assets around to qualify for a VA pension. Veterans and family members who do not actually qualify for a VA pension could be required to repay those benefits to the government.
Examples of possible pension poaching scams include:
- Organizations that cold-call veterans, charge money for assisting with a VA pension claim and take credit card information from veterans over the telephone.
- People who charge as much as $6,000 up front to represent claimants before the VA, with a percentage of any eventual back payment from VA as a portion of the ultimate fee.
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