Protecting Veterans Pensions Act

Protecting Veterans Pensions Act comes in response to excessive scams targeting retired veterans.

Protecting Veterans Pensions Act addresses concerns of veteran’s targeted in scams.

Legislation has been reintroduced by U.S. Representative Tom Rooney to combat scams directed at retired veterans and improve the Veteran’s Affairs pension program. Rooney was joined by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader, Gus Billirakis and Ron Barber as original cosponsors of the Protecting Veterans Pensions Act.

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“As a veteran myself, I am outraged by the actions of those who would prey on America’s elderly and disabled veterans,” Rep. Rooney said. “These financial predators are scamming elderly veterans out of their life savings, while undermining the VA pension program for the veterans who rely on it. By creating a three-year look-back period, we can put an end to this fraud against our nation’s heroes while strengthening the VA pension program.”

The bipartisan bill addresses a common scam called “pension poaching,” in which:

  • Unethical financial advisors and firms prey on elderly and disabled veterans by promising to help them qualify for VA pension benefits if they divert their assets into trusts or annuities.
  • The firms profit from those trusts or annuities, but they are often poor investments for seniors. As a result, victims lose access to their savings in exchange for a small pension. Meanwhile, the pension fund is drained for veterans in need.
  • These firms further profit by charging veterans exorbitant fees and selling them additional, costly services.

(Related: ‘Pension poachers’ blamed for backlog in approval of VA applications)

Because the VA only considers net worth at the time a veteran applies for benefits, the Department is unable to determine if an applicant has diverted their assets in order to qualify. The Protecting Veterans Pensions Act would eliminate this loophole, end pension poaching and shore up the VA pension fund by creating a three-year “look-back” period to determine eligibility.

“This bipartisan legislation would safeguard veterans and their families from predatory financial advisors, who are abusing taxpayer money and selling veterans unnecessary and costly financial products. These scams have no place in our society and by closing this shameful loophole we can show both veterans and taxpayers that we stand with them in protecting their best financial interests,” Rep. Schrader said.

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“As Vice-Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Co-Chairman of the Military Veterans Caucus, I am working to ensure our veterans receive the benefits, care and opportunity they’ve earned. I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing this legislation that will better protect our nation’s heroes from scams and those who try to take advantage of or mislead them,” Rep. Bilirakis said.

“I am honored to represent a district in which more than 80,000 veterans live. But I understand that with that honor comes the responsibility to ensure that veterans who stepped forward to serve our nation are not defrauded when they become civilians. I will not allow ‘pension poachers’ to take advantage of our veterans,” Rep. Barber said.

The legislation comes as a result of the concerns expressed to Congressman Rooney from local veterans after he urged them to report scams targeting veterans.

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