Veterans and their families are often targeted by unscrupulous financial and legal professionals who claim to offer free help with paperwork for pension claims. The scheme involves attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents trying to persuade veterans to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences.
Specifically, these unscrupulous individuals try to convince veterans to transfer their assets to a trust or to invest in insurance products so they can qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. What they don’t reveal is that these transactions could mean that the veteran will lose eligibility for Medicaid services or lose the use of their money for a long time. Additionally these advisers are charging fees that range from hundreds to thousands of dollars for their services.
Your best defense against someone who wants to poach your pension to get you a better deal is responding with a firm “No, thank you".
Tips to help veterans protect their hard-earned pensions:
- Remember that it is free to apply for veterans’ benefits, so watch out for come-ons offering to help you apply. These may be in the form of ads, websites or free seminars.
- Confirm with the Department of Veterans Affairs that any person helping you is accredited through the VA.
- Check the licensing of any professionals, whether through your state insurance regulator, the state bar association or your state securities regulator.
- Listen for high-pressure persuasion tactics. If the professional is making guarantees about your benefits or pushing you to act fast, that’s a cue to walk away.
- Feel empowered to respond with a fast ‘no’, or to take plenty of time to get to ‘yes’.
- Ask a lot of questions and don’t hesitate to get a second—or third—opinion.
If you believe you have been victimized by a scam or wish to report suspicious activity, please file a report here.