Q: I am a veteran living in an assisted living facility and I recently read an article, in a respectable magazine, whereby I might be eligible for a VA benefit called a VA Pension and an additional benefit called Aid and Attendance. This sounds too good to be true, but the high cost of living in a private assisted living facility is quickly draining my assets.
A: On Oct. 19, the Illinois Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Association for Wartime Veterans and Atlantis Marketing Solutions Inc. for steering veterans and their families into costly insurance products they did not need. Fraud allegations under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act is the basis of the lawsuit.
The organization is a for-profit organization and is not the only one pitching the same story to veterans. There is a VA Pension benefit but it has a very low “means test” for income that would likely rule out eligibility for most veterans who can afford to live in regular non-subsidized assisted living facilities.
These companies tell veterans that they can get an additional $1,000 or as much as $1,600 of monthly income be filing for the VA Pension and the additional benefit of Aid and Attendance. The company tells the veteran that to qualify for VA Pension and A&A benefit, the veteran must reduce the veteran’s asset level.
The company then usually suggests establishing a non-revocable trust account or annuity. The monthly income then becomes lower than the “means test” for eligibility. Setting up such financial accounts is costly and there is usually a stiff account management fee. In addition, the money received each month is determined by the annuity amount and the VA Pension amount.
If a veteran receives VA Pension and Aid and Attendance benefit using questionable methods to “hide” assets, the veteran could also be charged with fraud.
The Illinois State University Veterans Day ceremony will be at noon Nov. 10 in the Prairie Room of the Bone Student Center. Veterans can pick up yellow ribbons in the Veterans and Military Service Building (112 Moulton Hall) until 11 a.m. or at the door.
The ISU Center for Community Engagement and Service is recording the histories of veterans on Nov. 11. The recordings will be processed and sent to the Illinois Library and the Library of Congress for preservation and use. Hour-long recording sessions will be conducted in Milner Library in a private room from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 309-438-1166.
The Illinois State Dental Society is offering free dental care for veterans on Nov. 10-11, who will receive a free dental exam and one free treatment: cleaning, filling, or extraction, with the dentist determining priority treatment. Visit www.illinoisdentistssalute.org to register by Nov. 1. Call 708-222-7141 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Illinois Department Affairs' “Serving Those Who Served" program is offering assistance to individual veterans and to veterans' organizations for veteran-focused service projects Nov. 5-11. Visit www.chicagocares.org/stswopportunitysubmission for more information and to submit a request for help.