Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) June 18, 2012
On June 6, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), conducted a hearing titled “Pension Poachers: Preventing Fraud and Protecting America's Veterans,” to investigate exploitation of seniors applying for Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Pension Plans. The hearing featured the just-released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “Improvements Needed to Ensure Only Qualified Veterans and Survivors Receive Benefits.”
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) applauds the Senate Committee and GAO for revealing critically important issues that should be addressed through education, rulemaking and/or legislation in order to protect our most vulnerable veterans and ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs programs serve those in the greatest need.
As the GAO report notes, Elder Law attorneys have assisted with this study and have reported their concerns regarding some current practices that put our nation’s veterans at risk. For example, representatives of organizations marketing their services as helping veterans to qualify for VA pensions have made presentations to individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease and are not in a position to make decisions about their finances and are vulnerable to being convinced by these representatives that they must purchase financial products in order to qualify for benefits.
“Our nation's veterans have earned the right to be protected from organizations that persuade them to purchase unsuitable financial products to qualify for VA pensions, or that provide inappropriate advice that may preclude or delay financial assistance with long-term care. NAELA looks forward to working with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to resolve these concerns in a way that expedites the VA catching up with its large backlog of unprocessed claims, and that does not burden veterans seeking to receive the benefits they have been promised,” said NAELA President Gregory French, CELA, CAP.
NAELA also responded to an unrelated GAO request for our experiences with the financial exploitation of older adults and the programs that serve these victims. (See attachment). NAELA provided a summary of the kinds of exploitation its members see across the nation and work to end, and the legislative changes that could assist in ending this abuse and exploitation.
Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations, and others. The mission of NAELA is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit NAELA.org.