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Veterans, beware of pension advance products

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As a veteran, beware of pension advance products that offer to pay military retirees a lump-sum payout in return for their monthly retirement payments. The products may amount to payment of only pennies on the dollar and the advances are reported to carry interest rates from 27 percent to 106 percent, which can threaten a safe retirement. There are many pension advance companies on the Internet, often with patriotic-sounding names and logos. If you're offered a pension advance, stay away from arrangements that allow a creditor to access the account where you get your benefits. Instead, get trusted financial expert advice if you need emergency funds.

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Additionally, some individuals and companies use VA's Aid and Attendance pension benefit as a hook to sell services. The Aid and Attendance benefit is for eligible disabled veterans who require the aid and attendance of another person, or who are housebound. Individuals or companies looking to sell their services may offer to help veterans obtain Aid and Attendance benefits, but they often require customers to sign up for financial services first, then they move assets into irrevocable trusts for qualification. When being solicited, watch out for:

• A lawyer or veteran advisor who offers to get the Aid and Attendance benefit for a fee. Federal law prohibits VA accredited advisors from charging to assist with VA claims. However, at times a "consultation fee" is charged up front.

• A claim from a paid advisor stating that they can get the benefit for you more quickly than anyone else. All VA claims must go through the standard evaluation process, which no one can bypass to get it done faster.

• An offer to help a financially secured veteran qualify for Aid and Attendance by taking control of their finances and moving assets into an inaccessible trust. This may disqualify a veteran from other benefits.

• Retirement homes using the lure of Aid and Attendance to get veterans to move in on the implied promise that they will get the benefit. If the claim is denied, the veteran may not be able to afford to remain in the facility.

As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at david.anderson@co.wadena.mn.us and as always have a great week.

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