Overhaul the VA Fiduciary Program That Hurts Veterans More Than It Helps
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1) The VA Fiduciary Program was established to protect Veterans and other beneficiaries who – due to injury, disease, or age – are unable to manage their own financial affairs; and
2) A VA payee, referred to by the VA as a VA fiduciary, is a paid position held by an individual or organization appointed to manage a Veteran’s VA benefit payments when a Veteran is deemed to be financially incompetent by a court or by the VA; and
3) The VA Fiduciary Program has been rife with fraud stemming from fiduciaries funneling money and assets from vulnerable veterans; and
4) VA OIG found that the Eastern Area Fiduciary Hub (EAFH), located in Indianapolis, did not properly investigate most complaints against fiduciaries and of the 12 determinations that were made by EAFH almost $1 million had been stolen from veterans, which means that the total dollar amount of misuse and potential fraud was likely well over $1 million had the VA properly investigated the matter– other OIG investigations have uncovered millions more missing from Veteran accounts in other hubs; and
5) Part of the problem is a lack of oversight – some of the VA appointed fiduciaries have criminal records, but were still approved; and
6) OIG investigations also found that the required audits of the fiduciaries were not being done by the VA, and this allowed the thefts to continue for years; and
7) In some cases the VA doesn’t tell the Veteran that they appointed a fiduciary and emptied the bank accounts of the Veteran; and
8) In some cases, VA employees (unlawfully) gave VA fiduciaries permission to sell the Veteran’s home and unlawfully took the Social Security payments of the Veteran’s wife and gave those to the VA Fiduciary; and
9) In some cases the Veteran called the VA to report the financial abuse but was denied help by VA employees, because the vulnerable Veteran could not provide “proof” of the abuse; and
10) Formal complaints filed with VA OIG about VA Fiduciary Program employees (i.e., field examiners and designated fraud investigators), are being denied because VA OIG no longer investigates complaints filed against the VA Fiduciary Program, rather Veterans are being redirected to the applicable fiduciary hub suspected of malfeasance so the VA Fiduciary Program at that fiduciary hub can investigate itself for malfeasance; and
11) The Department of Justice (www.justice.gov/elderjustice/va-benefits-fraud-0 is giving out wrong information to Veterans of VA fiduciary abuse, such as referring Veterans to VA OIG; and
12) Vulnerable veterans are being wronged by both malfeasance of the VA Fiduciary and the institutional incompetence of the VA Fiduciary Program;
Veterans cannot do this alone and that is why they need your help with seeking legislation and changes to applicable regulations that require the VA to overhaul the VA Fiduciary Program by creating a better monitoring system, a timely dispute resolution system when beneficiaries make complaints, initiate investigations based on suspected reports of fiduciary fraud rather than putting the burden of proof on the vulnerable veteran, and make an outside agency, such as VA OIG, responsible for investigating complaints of VA employees who work in the VA Fiduciary Program and Fiduciary Hubs.
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