Earlier this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Marc Rubio of Florida proposed legislation that would protect veterans from financial scams. For many years, sketchy financial advisors and faux investment consultants have taken advantage of elderly veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ assisted living program. The new bill, introduced on Tuesday, would require the VA to crack down on these scammers.
According to Sen. Warren, thousands of older veterans rely extensively on the program for help with basic daily activities. “Unfortunately, scams are turning the program into something that can actually undermine the financial security of older veterans and waste federal funds,” says Warren. “This bipartisan proposal will help put an end to these financial scams and ensure that we honor our veterans’ commitment, sacrifice, and service to the nation.”
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, scam artists disguise themselves as “veteran’s advisors” and often charge fees to help vets obtain assisted living benefits, even though the program is free. “Investment advisors” also profit off the assisted living program by taking control of veterans’ assets, moving them into a trust or account that cannot be accessed for many years, creating a difficult financial situation for veterans, and sometimes disqualifying them for other programs like Medicaid.
The proposed legislation was initially presented in November as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) but did not make it into the final annual defense bill. Warren and Rubio then decided to create a stand-alone bill.