orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Lifestyle

January 9, 2013

Older veterans targeted by scammers

ORANGE — Aid and Attendance is financial assistance from the Veterans Administration that helps with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and taking medications. Veterans or spouses of veterans with limited incomes may qualify for this aid and attendance if their income meets the guideline the Veterans Administration has set forth. However, there are "advocates" that are targeting veterans and their spouses with a scam. These advocates/attorneys are promising the Aid and Attendance if the veteran or spouse signs over all assets. This includes sale of a home, car or land that has value and tells the veteran or spouse to sign over any liquid assets such as savings or IRA’s to them and these "advocates/attorneys will assure them the Aid and Attendance. This is not true.

The Unites States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has held an investigation of the attorneys and advocates that target the WWII veterans to obtain their money. Veterans that do not have enough to pay for in home care but too much for the Aid and Attendance are the targeted victims. These advocate go to Assisted Living and long term care facilities and present flyers that explain the techniques used to basically sell a product for annuities and trusts. Once this is complete, the only person allowed into this trust is the Advocate/attorney and the veteran is denied access to aid and attendance because his income was too high, usually from the sale of a home. This is occurring in the United States and 200 Advocate companies were investigated and numerous attorneys.

Aid and Attendance was meant for war veterans that have limited income and 0 means of paying for aid and attendance. There are situations where income solvent persons (millionaires) have scammed the Department of Veterans Affairs by moving assets to children or others, including these "advocates" to receive this small pension with aid and attendance. This is considered fraud. The VA does not look back and this loophole allows these scammers to assist persons with money to pursue a VA pension with aid and attendance. However, eventually the income is caught and the money must be returned and the attorney/advocate is paid but the veteran loses money because of the fraud perpetrated.

Yet there is the flip side. These same advocates/attorneys are after the moderate-income veteran, promising the moon and stars and then the VA denies the assistance and pension because the veteran did not qualify based on income. The VA policy manual states the pension program was not intended to protect substantial assets or preserve an estate for the beneficiary’s heirs. This happens more often than people realize but so does the flip side.

In the GAO report and assisted living organization and an attorney working together charged $850.00 for the attorney to complete the application, $225.00 for analysis of the income and $1600.00 for a long term trust (long term means only the owner can access and after a certain period of years). The advocate and attorney told the veteran to have someone else pay these fees as it was illegal for him to charge for these services and be paid directly from the veteran. (Federal law prohibits charging fees to assist in completing and submitting applications for VA benefits. NOONE can charge a fee for providing VA assistance in applying for any VA benefits.) www.gao.gov/assets

Older adults are primary targets for these assisted living scammers. They have wonderful professional flyers promising assistance with VA and often associating themselves with the VA. They are not a part of the VA system but utilize it to profit from the older veterans, especially Alzheimer’s and dementia victims. They are selling products that they profit from and this leaves the veterans homeless, with out funds and sometimes resulting in death. The results of the government investigation came be found online at www.gao.gov/assets or www.atg.wa.gov for extensive information regarding these attorneys/advocates targeting our heroes. If any questions regarding aid and attendance arise, please contact your local veteran service office. The local office can be reached at:

Orange County Veteran Service Office

10984 FM 1442

 Orange, TX 77630

(409)745-1535

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