Scammers have long targeted elderly service members, and this predation remains a major concern today. Therefore, veterans need to be on the lookout for people who offer to help them qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits with the ulterior motive of selling them financial products such as insurance policies, trusts, and annuities. A common iteration of such scams is when an individual approaches an elderly veteran and offers to handle his or her Aid and Attendance application for “free”; the person will then exploit the senior citizen’s trust to obtain personal financial information about the elder in order to sell them financial products they often do not need and/or cannot afford. These pitches frequently occur in nursing homes.
Entitlement to Aid and Assistance benefits is determined on a need basis – meaning the senior must have limited resources. This has prompted fraudsters to find targets and take steps to “artificially impoverish” them. Sometimes this means locking up the elder’s assets in a trust or annuity; both actions typically generate large fees for the person selling the product. If the transfer of assets for estate planning purposes is not handled properly, a senior can suffer great harm to their finances and wellbeing: not only may they lose direct access to, and control over, their personal assets, but they may also find that they are newly disqualified from collecting certain government need-based benefits.
In concealing their true identities and motives, companies peddling these wares use names that falsely portray them as affiliated with the VA; other scammers use tactics to falsely suggest an affiliation with a legitimate charity organization. For these reasons, elders and their families must proceed with caution any time they are approached about financial matters – especially the sale of estate planning tools and insurance and financial products.
The following are links to two legitimate sources of information on this benefit:
(1) The VA’s official website: http://benefits.va.gov/PENSIONANDFIDUCIARY/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp
(2) CANHR’s website: http://www.canhr.org/factsheets/misc_fs/html/fs_aid_&_attendance.htm
To learn more about your elder rights, please click HERE.
Anne Marie Murphy is a Principal at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, where she practices civil litigation focusing on complex commercial litigation, class actions, consumers’ rights and elder abuse (including both financial ...