5 Signs You’re Working with a VA Pension Poacher

If you were working with a VA pension poacher, how would you know? Chris Johnson, a VA Accredited attorney, Marine Corps veteran, and partner at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law, explains.

Have you heard of VA pension poaching? Pension poachers are organizations that help veterans apply for VA pension aid and attendance benefits and then require the veteran to purchase home care services from their organization at inflated prices and with excessive fees.

Are you working with a VA pension poacher? Here are five warning signs.

Sign #1: They promise to submit your VA application and provide caregivers.

VA pension poachers turn on the spigot of VA money for the veteran but then that money ends up returned to the pension poacher because they're providing the caregivers. “That’s a red flag,” Chris explained. “Getting you money for VA benefits and then providing services paid for by those benefits is a clear conflict of interest.”

Sign #2: They threaten to turn off your VA benefits.

Let’s say you want to change the type of care the veteran is receiving or move the veteran to a different care setting. When you tell the company you will no longer be needing their services, they say they will have to turn off your benefits. “When someone threatens to turn off your benefits because you no longer want to purchase home care services from them, your caregiving company is most likely a VA pension poacher,” Chris said.

Sign #3: The care seems overpriced.

Look at the rates you're being charged for home. How do they compare to that of other in-home care services? Are you paying competitive rates? Or are the rates you’re paying significantly higher than the going rate? If you’re paying more than the going rate for services delivered by the same company that processed the VA application, odds are good that you’re dealing with a pension poacher.

Sign #4: They promise one thing but deliver another.

The pension poaching organization wants you to believe that they’re a one-stop shop that will make life easier for you. Unfortunately, their sales pitch doesn’t always match what happens later on. “I’ve heard from clients that these organizations told them one thing when they were signing up, but when what they were promised didn’t match what was delivered, the company denied making the promise.” 

Sign #5: They resist putting things in writing.

If the company who processed your veteran’s VA application is the same company that is providing the care, start asking questions. “I always tell people, ‘Make them answer your questions in emails because then you have their answers in writing with a time and date stamp,’" Chris advised. “You’ll avoid hearing ‘That’s not what I said,’ when you challenge the company later on. You’ll have it in writing.”

Whenever the company who helped you apply for VA benefits demands that you use the caregivers they provide, run the other way. 

If you now realize that you’re working with a VA pension poacher, how do you end the relationship? Chris admits that the process can be intimidating for veterans and their families. “Pension poachers aren’t above using threats and intimidation to keep the VA benefits flowing in their direction,” he said. “Their scare tactics can seem convincing, so your best bet is to have a VA Accredited attorney at a Life Care Planning Law Firm do the job for you.”