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BBB Trends: It’s Military Appreciation Month, veterans; advice — beware of pension poachers

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

May is National Military Appreciation Month, an observance that encourages citizens to honor current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and those that perished in the line of duty in pursuit of American freedom. But even the noblest of ideals won’t deter unscrupulous individuals out there looking to make a few quick bucks or steal the identity of the innocent.

One such con directly targets veterans — a scam perpetrated by unethical advisers claiming they can provide a service called Aid and Attendance benefits. This fraud is called Pension Poaching and here’s how it works: bogus financial brokers, insurance agents and attorneys across the nation set up workshops in senior care facilities to offer financial planning services for free; in return, the clients will yield huge financial returns.

Aid and Attendance is a real benefit paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to wartime veterans or their spouses who meet low-income and asset requirements and also require medical assistance with some of their daily activities. It can be used to pay for in-home care for the veteran, even care provided by a family member, with some stipulations.

Aid and Attendance can also be used to offset the cost of residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home, but will not cover the full cost. Medicaid, however, will pay the full cost of nursing home care, and in some states, assisted living facilities as well. Learn more about it by visiting this website.

Veterans victimized by Pension Poaching could have difficulty accessing their existing benefits. If a veteran has too much money and property to qualify for Aid and Attendance, that property can be transferred in order to help the vet meet the asset limits of the program. As soon as the transfers are complete, the veteran can safely apply for Aid and Attendance. But Medicaid is completely different because Medicaid penalizes people for moving funds around prior to seeking coverage by denying Medicaid coverage for a period of months or even years. Often, brokers and agents will pressure a person into buying too much of a financial product that benefits the adviser and costs the vet so much that it runs their hard-earned savings dry.

An adviser should be well-versed in how Medicaid works in the state where the veteran resides before recommending such an option, and work with the client to avoid a financial catastrophe. If you think you may have been targeted by a Pension Poacher, be advised that complaints can be filed with the State Attorney General’s Office, Federal Trade Commission and the State Insurance Regulator.

Sandra Guile is the Public Relations Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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