If you currently receive VA pension payments or if you are thinking about applying for Veterans Pension, Survivors Pension, or Aid and Attendance (A&A) and housebound benefits, you could be the target of a scam known as pension poaching. Don’t let scammers take advantage of you. Read on to see how you can protect the benefits you have earned.

What is pension poaching?

Every year, VA distributes a billion dollars in pension payments to help low-income Veterans who served in wartime and their families through financial challenges. Pension poaching is a financial scam that targets Veterans, survivors and family members who may be eligible for these benefits. The most popular type of pension poaching occurs when dishonest people falsely qualify Veterans and survivors for VA pension benefits. These individuals may be attorneys, financial planners or benefits advisors.

Veterans should be on the lookout for people or organizations who:

  • Tell you to move your money around to qualify for VA pension payments.
  • Claim that pension benefits can be deposited into a caregiver’s account.
  • Charge you money for assisting with a VA pension claim.
  • Take your credit card information over the phone.
  • Charge you money upfront to represent your claim with VA.

Most poaching scams target Veterans and family members who do not qualify for VA pension benefits. If VA approves your pension benefits and later determines that eligibility did not exist, you may be required to repay the benefits to the government.

Protecting yourself from financial scammers

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from pension poaching is to know the facts. Here are the top things you should know to keep your benefits safe.

  1. Only approved individuals can help you file a claim. In addition to working directly with VA, there are three types of representatives that can help you with your claim: Veterans Service Organizations, attorneys and agents. VA’s Office of the General Counsel maintains a searchable list of approved individuals. Always check this list before discussing your pension benefits with anyone outside of VA.
  2. You do not need to pay to submit your application. VA does not charge to process your application. No one can charge you to prepare or file an initial application without breaking federal law.
  3. You should never pay money upfront. In some cases, an accredited attorney or claims agent may be able to charge you a fee for preparing your claim. This can only happen after a VA regional office issues a decision on your claim. The attorney or agent must also file a power of attorney and a fee agreement with VA.
  4. No one can guarantee that you will receive benefits from VA. Even accredited individuals on the Office of the General Counsel list cannot guarantee that you will receive VA pension benefits after you apply. Only VA can determine eligibility and award benefits and services.
  5. VA benefits can only go directly to Veterans or survivors. Pension payments cannot be placed into a caregiver’s account.

Keep these five tips in mind when applying for VA pension benefits and you can “Spot a Scam, Stop a Scam” before it happens.

For more information

Visit VA.gov to learn more about VA Pension benefits. You can also call 1-800-827-1000 or contact your local regional office.

For additional information on protecting yourself from pension poaching, check out the Pension Poaching Prevention and Pension Program and Representation fact sheets.


Angela Childers-Conner is a marketing and communications specialist with VBA’s Office of Strategic Engagement.

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2 Comments

  1. Russell Street May 27, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    How come the FBI does not help vets or blacks
    or Hawaiians or anybody that’s white!
    Why doesn’t the FBI have a # to call for this type of problem!!

  2. Deborah A Lacayo May 27, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Can you please help with another scam hurting our Veterans! I can provide proof to you on this as well. They are 3rd party office who are suppose to provide the Veterans, disabled people, elderly etc a financial service. They get a fee to handle these individuals pension and Social Security checks by paying their bills, finding suitable homes, etc whom cannot handle on there own. The problem is most of these people do not understand the iron clad contract they have to sign. They have no advocate to guide them nor explain the consequences. Once signed it states you can never try to go against there service and get out of the contract. I have proof of all I’m reporting and there contract. On paper it looks like the bills are being paid meanwhile these people are becoming homeless for not paying their bills. Authorities have told me that they cannot go to utility companies and check whether they’ve been paid. By law they can only look and believe what these independent offices say and what they put on paper. Meanwhile their utilities, rent, etc isn’t being paid which forces them on the street. Most of these individuals have no one to look out for them nor help them and they have to agree to this service or Social Security will hold there check until they do. These people are called ” Paid Benefits “. They only open a couple of days a week for 3 to 4 hours and you can only call them on Mondays between 9 to 11 am. which goes straight to voice mail 75 % of the time. I have several family members that served our country and 2 sons that are still serving since 9-11. We take serving our county very seriously. One of my sons has 3 purple hearts that he didn’t want to take. He feels that honor belongs to those that lost limbs or died in the line of duty. The last one the Army was going to make him retire. They were told he wouldn’t walk again or atleast for 2 plus years. He did after 3 months and walked in his hearing. His platoon also showed up asking for his return to service. So it really hurts to see anyone hurt our Veterans! Thank you,
    Deborah LaCayo
    God bless all of you

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