Have you ever heard of the scam called? This is a financial hoax used by scam artists to defraud veterans, survivors and their families who are potentially eligible for VA retirement benefits. If you are currently receiving a VA pension or considering applying for one, learn how to spot and avoid poachers!
What Are VA Retirement Programs?
VA offers two different pension programs for veterans and their dependents. veterans pension is a tax-free monthly benefit available to wartime veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements and whose income and net worth are within certain limits. Survivor’s pension is available to eligible surviving spouses and dependent unmarried children of wartime veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits. Additionally, Veterans and Survivors who require assistance with daily activities (such as bathing, dressing, and eating) or who are housebound may be eligible for additional pension adjustments with VA Aid and Attendance or Homebound benefits.
What to avoid and who to trust?
Pension poachers will often try to gain your trust by pretending to be advocates who can help you get more VA benefits than you already receive. By doing so, these scammers collect money through fees or by siphoning off your benefit payments. Following the advice of scammers puts your pension at risk. You could also find yourself disqualified from further VA benefits or owing money if it is determined that you are not eligible for payments.
Veterans, survivors, and their advocates should never pay for assistance when applying for VA benefits. Accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) Representatives provide free advice and assist in completing and filing applications. These certified professionals are well trained to support you and your family. In addition to working only with accredited representatives, be sure to avoid cold calls, phishing emails, and other poaching arguments, such as:
- Requests to transfer money into different accounts or reallocate investments to qualify for a VA pension payment,
- Requests for money to file your claim or for claim forms,
- Promises of “guaranteed eligibility” for a particular VA benefit or lump sum payment upon approval,
- Requests for personal information, including credit card information or other billing information, and
- Offers to send benefits to a caregiver’s account.
VA benefits can only be paid to an eligible veteran or survivor, not to a caregiver’s account. Although some attorneys may charge you for representation when appealing or requesting a further review of a VA decision, they cannot charge you for services provided during the initial application for benefits.
If a potential scammer approaches you, please report them to the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) by calling 800-488-8244. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.