Letter to Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - Assist in Educating Elderly Veterans

Letter

By:  Patty Murray Jon Tester Herb Kohl Ron Wyden
Date: June 6, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee joined with Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in calling on Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to investigate and take enforcement action against companies that may be inappropriately marketing and selling financial services and products to elderly veterans. They also called upon Director Cordray to alert veterans to the practices of companies that are taking advantage of elderly veterans.

"We believe the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and specifically the Office for Older Americans and the Office of Servicemember Affairs are in a unique position to assist us in educating elderly veterans and family members and stopping improper practices that may be occurring," the Senators write in the letter. "For this reason, we request that you investigate these practices to determine the feasibility of enforcement actions within CFPB's authority. We also request that you assist us in gathering information related to these companies and practices and the impact they are having on our nation's veterans. Finally, we ask that you work with us to better educate veterans, their families and veteran advocates about VA's pension program and the practices of certain companies."

The full text of the letter follows:

June 6, 2012

The Honorable Richard Cordray
Director
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1801 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Mr. Cordray:

For many elderly veterans and their families, understanding, planning, and paying for long-term care has become a tremendous challenge. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) pension program, which provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income wartime veterans and their surviving spouses, can help in meeting basic financial needs. Pension recipients may also be eligible for additional aid if they require assistance with activities of daily living. For eligible veterans and survivors, these benefits may allow them to receive necessary quality care in their own homes, assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

Over the past several months, our offices have received a number of complaints from veterans and their family members about companies that may be inappropriately marketing and selling financial services and products to elderly veterans. We are deeply troubled because such practices may adversely impact eligibility for both VA and other Federal benefits, such as Medicaid. Often these financial services and products may involve substantial fees and may not be properly suited for elderly veterans. Further, some of these companies fail to offer accurate advice on other available benefits, often to the detriment of the veteran or survivor.

We have also encountered companies that grant veterans deferred payments on assisted living facility costs for either a certain time period or until receipt of VA pension benefits. However, because of the method by which VA computes pension eligibility, such practices may in fact negatively impact a veteran's eligibility for pension benefits. The Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs has provided assistance to a number of veterans who found themselves facing eviction from assisted living facilities at the end of the deferral period because VA had not completed adjudication of their claim or they were ultimately found ineligible for pension benefits.

We believe the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and specifically the Office for Older Americans and the Office of Servicemember Affairs are in a unique position to assist us in educating elderly veterans and family members and stopping improper practices that may be occurring. For this reason, we request that you investigate these practices to determine the feasibility of enforcement actions within CFPB's authority. We also request that you assist us in gathering information related to these companies and practices and the impact they are having on our nation's veterans. Finally, we ask that you work with us to better educate veterans, their families and veteran advocates about VA's pension program and the practices of certain companies.

The Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the Special Committee on Aging will continue to review these issues and work to ensure eligible veterans and survivors receive the benefits they have earned. We appreciate your attention to this request and look forward to your participation in serving our veterans and their families.