The Veterans Aid and Attendance program provides pension benefits for needy veterans or their surviving spouses. To qualify for the program, veterans or their spouses must have less than approximately $80,000 in assets and an annual income of less than $20,000 (veteran with no dependents). Unfortunately, unscrupulous insurance agents are increasingly preying on vulnerable veterans and convincing them to transfer their assets to a a family member or an irrevocable trust to impoverish them under the promise that the veteran or spouse will qualify for Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits.
The scam goes like this: The insurance agent, holds himself or herself out as a veterans “consultant” and conducts a “seminar” or visits the home of the veteran or surviving spouse. The agent tells the veteran that they can qualify for the pension benefits if they transfer their assets to a family member or into an irrevocable trust. The agent convinces the veteran or spouse to have the trust buy a high-cost annuity, which pays a fat commission to the agent. To add insult to injury, the agent, working in tandem with a lawyer, also charges a fee, often as high as several thousand dollars, to set up the trust and assist in filling out the necessary paperwork.
The agent does not tell the veteran or spouse, however, that the recommended arrangement may prove to be disastrous because: (1) the annuity locks up the veterans’ assets and provides no real financial benefit to the veteran or his or her family – while the agent collects a healthy undisclosed commission; (2) the transfer of assets may disqualify the veteran or spouse from the pension (requiring repayment of the amounts received); and (3) the asset transfer may disqualify the veteran or spouse from Medicaid coverage.
In a recent Bulletin titled “Taking Aim at Old Soldiers – Seminars Target Vets With Unwise Investments” AARP had this to say about this growing scam:
“These self-described ‘veterans advocates’ are in fact unscrupulous investment advisors…getting a veteran to transfer retirement assets into an irrevocable trust…[that] usually contains annuities, long-term investments that are often considered inappropriate for older retirees.”
The Evans Law Firm focuses on elder abuse litigation in California. If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of a veterans’ insurance scam or financial exploitation, contact the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm toll free at 1-888-50EVANS for a free and confidential consultation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org