We here at NWAVet are urging all Veterans to call their Senators and Representatives in support of the GUARD VA Benefits Act of 2023.
There are dozens of companies and people who advertise on the Internet that they will help Veterans get the benefits they deserve. We have heard from a surviving spouse who paid a company $1000 for help in filing for a survivor’s pension, only to be told by the company that the survivor themselves would need to download the proper forms, fill them out, and send them in to the VA. The company would only offer advice on how the forms should be filled out.
It is unfortunate that this is becoming a trend. Unscrupulous companies and individuals, some of them Veterans themselves, are using other Veterans’ lack of knowledge on filing for benefits to make a lot of money. These people are not accredited by the VA to file claims. They often charge exorbitant amounts of money to ‘advise’ Veterans on what to do, and will sometimes offer their advice for ‘free’, but have the Veteran or Survivor sign a contract that states the company will receive 20% or more of any back pay that the Veteran receives if the claim is approved. Depending on the circumstances this could amount to tens of thousands of dollars that the Veteran loses to these companies.
The Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding VA Benefits Act of 2023 is a bill sponsored by Senator Boozman (R-AR) that would make it a crime to charge veterans for help with VA benefits without being accredited by the VA. The bill would also increase penalties for those who defraud veterans by withholding benefits or charging unauthorized fees.
The bill was introduced in response to concerns about the growing number of veterans who have been scammed out of their benefits by unscrupulous representatives. In recent years, there have been numerous cases of veterans being charged exorbitant fees for help with VA claims, or being promised benefits that they were never entitled to.
The bill has the support of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other veterans’ organizations. It is currently being considered by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
If passed, the bill would help to protect veterans from fraud and ensure that they receive the benefits they are entitled to.