Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Beware Pension Poachers Prowling For Veterans

V.A. Aid and Attendance benefits can help elderly and disabled veterans and their widows/widowers pay for the cost of in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. Certain income and asset criteria must be met in order to qualify. This is a legitimate and valuable program. Unfortunately, it also can be exploited as a profit center for scammers. So-called “pension poachers” may show up at senior centers or assisted living facilities, or cold-call their victims. They say that for a fee, they will help the veteran qualify for aid and attendance benefits or other veterans benefits. But what they are really doing is attempting to enrich themselves at the expense of our country’s heroes, at a point when the heroes are at their most vulnerable.

Pension poachers use a variety of nefarious approaches. One of the most common is selling the veteran an annuity, claiming that this is the only method to get rid of excess assets that would prevent an otherwise qualified veteran from getting benefits. (Right now there is three-year look-back period for aid and attendance benefits). The poacher will often charge an upfront fee for this “service.” However, under federal law, no one may charge a veteran to provide help in completing or submitting a V.A. benefits application.

Even if the veteran is initially successful at accessing aid and attendance benefits, if and when the V.A. discovers the scam, the veteran will likely have to pay back any benefits received, even if the veteran can prove that he/she was unwittingly misled.

Is there anyone legitimate a veteran can turn to for help in applying for V.A. Aid and Attendance benefits? The answer is yes. Go to the V.A. website to find someone local who is V.A. accredited; or call the national call center at 800-827-1000. All Karp Law Firm Attorneys are accredited. When we do Medicaid planning for a veteran, we routinely submit the person’s V.A. application, but of course we do not charge for that service.

Click here to read about the details of Aid and Attendance benefits and eligibility criteria, and to download a free and informative booklet on the topic.