They call it “pension poaching.” It’s a blatant manipulation of older veterans by a mini industry of unscrupulous lawyers, financial planners and insurance agents. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning to veterans who are over 65 and their families to avoid pension ripoffs.
Here’s how the scheme works:
Veterans 65+ who legitimately have limited resources may qualify for a supplemental pension benefit called the Enhanced Pension with Aid and Attendance. And that’s a good thing. But scammers use a loophole in the system and offer to help people, including millionaires, hide their assets so they appear poor and qualify for the benefit. They often meet and greet and make their pitch at free seminars at assisted living facilities, senior centers and other places in the community where older veterans gather.
Their bad advice frequently suggests that a veteran set up a trust, or buy an annuity. Those who sign-up pay fees of $200 to $10,000 and discover their money isn’t available for them to use when they need it. In addition, they risk losing their eligibility for Medicaid benefits. It has happened.
The bottom line: the FTC suggests that you take your time. Research what they offer and consider all your options, which include saying, “No,” and doing nothing.
Concern about abuse of the VA pension system led to an investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO) in Washington. Undercover investigators posed as sons of older veterans, and their audio on the video takes you inside the scam.