Washington – Last week U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Blake Farenthold (TX-27), and Alcee Hastings (FL-20) introduced the bipartisan Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2014. The legislation would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with other federal agencies and states to address a myriad of scams that target low-income, older veterans. U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Marco Rubio (FL) first introduced the legislation in the Senate.
“I believe that we owe a great debt to those brave men and women who served our country through military service,” said Cartwright. “I am proud to work with Congressmen Farenthold and Hastings, and Senators Rubio and Warren to address any form of fraud targeted towards our nation’s older veterans and their hard-earned benefits. These scams are completely unacceptable and appalling. Our legislation would require greater protections for our nation’s heroes.”
“It is unfortunate that there are people who want to take advantage of those who have fought for our freedom,” said Farenthold. “That’s why I am proud to introduce, along with Congressmen Matt Cartwright and Alcee Hastings, legislation to help prevent scam artists from targeting and taking advantage of our veterans, especially those older and low-income veterans. I remain committed to helping our veterans receive the benefits and care they’ve earned.”
“I find it abhorrent that we even need to consider this legislation. The idea that there are people in this country who seek to defraud those who have sacrificed so much is sickening,” said Hastings. “Along with Congressmen Cartwright and Farenthold, I am dedicated to protecting veterans and their families from these scams and ensuring they receive all the benefits and care that they have earned.”
The VA offers Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits to veterans who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person to complete basic daily activities. Scam artists have exploited the A&A program by charging veterans for obtaining the benefit even though the application process is free. Additionally, these predators often take control of the veteran’s assets and move them into an irrevocable trust or an annuity, creating significant financial strain for the veteran. This movement of assets may also disqualify the veteran from other assistance, like Medicaid.
The bill would require the VA to work with other federal agencies and state experts to develop and implement standards that protect veterans from predatory practices. Furthermore, the bill would require a study on the implemented standards to determine whether the standards have effectively addressed the scams.
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