Aging Committee Hearing to Investigate Claims of Exploitation of Seniors Applying for VA’s Pension Plan

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will chair a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 2 pm to hear testimony from government officials, veterans advocates as well as those who have been victimized by unscrupulous “pension poachers.” That morning, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will issue a report outlining problems with the VA pension program that allow for it to become a marketing tool to sell inappropriate financial instruments to elderly veterans.

WHO: U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Aging Committee Chairman
WHAT: Senate Special Committee on Aging  
WHERE: 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHEN: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 2pm


Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.  Senator Burr will discuss the Burr-Wyden bill to require a financial look-back for those applying for pension.  

Dan Bertoni, Director of Disability Issues at the Government Accountability Office.  Mr. Bertoni will discuss the finding of the GAO report, “Veterans’ Pension Benefits: Improvements Needed to Ensure Only Qualified Veterans and Survivors Receive Benefits.”

Kris Schaffer, Daughter of Montana Veteran.  She will discuss her experience, along with that of her father, with the pension program and a “pension poacher” in Montana.

Lori Perkio, American Legion, Assistant Director, Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division.  Ms. Perkio was previously local Veterans Service Officer in Montana.  She will discuss her experiences with “pension poachers,” and outline the American Legion’s views on how best to protect veterans.

Dave McLenachen, Director of Pension and Fiduciary Service at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Mr. McLenachen will discuss the VA’s response to the GAO report, and what actions the VA plans to take to combat this problem.

The VA’s enhanced pension with aid and attendance (commonly called Aid and Attendance or A&A) is designed to provide a pension for needy elderly veterans and/or their spouses to assist with essential daily activities they cannot afford on their own.  This money increases the quality of life for tens of thousands of elderly veterans.

Unfortunately, problems with the design and administration of the program have led to a growing industry of predatory financial planners and attorneys who are using the Aid and Attendance program to target vulnerable seniors and sell them inappropriate financial instruments. These “pension poachers” convince senior veterans that they are entitled to a pension for which they would not otherwise qualify. In order to claim that money the poacher will then sell the senior financial tools that will make them appear in need of this assistance.