June 28, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cathy Cuddy, Executive Coordinator
Tel: (202) 587- 5708
Hearings and Bill Focus on Veterans Protections
Washington, D.C. – In response to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of “pension poaching” practices of unscrupulous financial planners who took advantage of veterans seeking VA pension benefits, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Aging Committee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) held a hearing on June 6, 2012. The Senate heard testimony about misleading information provided as a guise to sell inappropriate financial instruments to elderly veterans and cause them to gift away assets in a fashion that could negatively impact Medicaid qualification should long term care be later required. Shortly thereafter Senators Wyden and Burr (R-NC) introduced a bill in the Senate, S 3270, on this issue that was referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “With the help of the VA and Chairman Kohl, it is my hope that this program can be reformed and returned to its original goal of helping those who need it most” stated Senator Wyden.
NOVA salutes the Committee for taking this much needed step to ensure that our veterans are not exploited and coerced into paying for an entitlement that is available at no cost for their war time service. NOVA President Mike Viterna, on behalf of NOVA’s Board and the entire membership, said “NOVA is very supportive of any effort to protect this nation’s veterans from unscrupulous practitioners, attorneys and laypersons alike, who persuade veterans to purchase financial products that are inappropriate for them or that may jeopardize their receipt of other governmental benefits by the careless reassignment of assets. The law prohibits charging fees to assist in completing and submitting applications for VA benefits, and NOVA strongly supports the enforcement of applicable laws against organizations and individuals who improperly charge fees related to the application, or that find ways to circumvent this prohibition.”
The National Organization of Veterans Advocates applauds the Senate Committee and GAO for addressing and investigating this abuse of our veterans. Such matters should be addressed through education, rulemaking and/or legislation in order to protect the nation’s most vulnerable veterans and ensure that the VA benefits are properly distributed. NOVA also encourages the enforcement of the applicable consumer fraud statutes and has begun to reach out to representatives of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Ms. Hollister Petreaus in the Office of Servicemember Affairs. NOVA’s leadership has also been meeting with senior officials within the VA to determine what measures need to be taken to effectively address this problem.
The National Organization of Veterans' Advocates is a not for profit educational membership organization incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1993. NOVA is a national organization of attorneys and other qualified members who act as advocates for disabled veterans. Our goal is to provide excellent representation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to veterans who have disability claims against the government resulting from their service as members of the armed forces. Offices are at 1425 K St NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20005. Phone: (202) 587- 5708, Fax: (202) 587- 5600, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.vetadvocates.org