U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) issued the following statement after cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that strengthens the Department of Veterans Affairs Pension Program. The bill was introduced by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
"Our Veterans have served this nation with distinction and honor. The very freedoms we enjoy today are due to their efforts in defending this country. Pressuring elderly low-income and disabled Veterans into risky decisions such as moving and turning over financial assets to money managers is one of the worst abuses I have seen. I will not stand for companies poaching the life savings of our most vulnerable Veterans. This bill will help end this practice and I applaud Senators Wyden and Burr for introducing this important legislation," said Senator Dean Heller.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) enhanced pension program is designed to provide money for elderly veterans, and/or their spouses, who need assistance with daily activities but can't afford to pay for this help on their own. This money is indispensable and increases the quality of life for numerous vets. Unfortunately, problems with the design and administration of the program have led to a growing industry of financial planners and attorneys who are using the program as a marketing tool to sell inappropriate financial instruments to elderly Veterans.
This bill closes loopholes in the VA pension program that have allowed for the exploitation of Veterans. It also creates a "look-back" period of three years prior to an individual applying for VA pension. If an applicant repositioned assets during that 3-year period, the VA could deny the application. Depending on the assets that were moved, benefits could be denied for up to three years. Comparable protections have already been put in place in programs such as Medicaid.