ANNVILLE – Pennsylvania veterans and their advocates should be aware of an increase in scammers looking to poach their VA pensions, warns the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). Pension Poaching is financial exploitation targeting veterans and beneficiaries who are potentially eligible for VA pension benefits.
“Older veterans are a prime target for scammers,” said Joel Mutschler, director DMVA Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration, and Outreach. “As we approach World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, it is important to remind veterans and their advocates to be vigilant when dealing with their benefits, and make sure to always use the free assistance of an accredited veteran service officer.”
Veteran pension poaching occurs when scammers, unscrupulous players or dishonest financial planners charge veterans or their beneficiaries for help in applying for or submitting applications for VA pensions. The scheme often involves financial maneuvers such as advising claimants to hide their assets in trusts or annuity products sometimes resulting in lost investments and lucrative fees paid to the advisor.
Veterans and their advocates should remember to never share their VA login information, or deposit VA benefits directly into a third-party bank account unless the person is court appointed or a VA accredited fiduciary.
Mutschler said he wants to make it clear that veterans or their advocates should never pay:
- For forms or to submit applications
- To restructure assets in order to “qualify”
- For the promise of eligibility for a pension
- To receive a lump sum payment on a pension
There are approximately 200 veteran service officers in Pennsylvania who work within organizations such as the DMVA, county veterans affairs offices and several veterans service organizations.
A complete list of county directors and their contact information can be found at the County Directors of Veterans Affairs. Contact information for veteran service officers can be found at the Veteran Service Officers Contact Information.