- Category: Widget
- Published: Wednesday, 29 January 2014 15:05
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Veterans: Beware Shady Pension Schemes
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Veterans and their families are a target for some dishonest advisers who are claiming to offer free help with paperwork for pension claims.
The scheme involves attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents trying to persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences.
Victory State Bank would like to provide the following guide on understanding your benefits:
Navigating the process:
- It is free to apply for veterans’ benefits. If you’re completing the application yourself, don’t pay for forms. If someone is helping you, know that the people who are accredited through the VA are notallowed to charge you to help you complete and submit VA paperwork.
- Check for accreditation and licensing. Confirm that the person helping you is accredited through the VA. That means they’re trained to help with completing and submitting claims to the VA; it doesn’t mean the VA endorses the person’s products, advice, or ethics. Look into the licensing and professional status of the person helping you:
- For insurance agents:If you are considering buying an annuity, check with yourstate insurance regulatorto confirm that the seller is licensed.
- For lawyers: Check withyour state Bar Associationto see if the lawyer is licensed in your state and whether there are ethical complaints on file.
- For financial planners: Anyone can call themselves a financial planner, but someone using the designation Certified Financial Planner must meet certain professional and ethical standards of theCertified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Determine whether an adviser is certified and whether any disciplinary actions have been taken or are on file. TheNational Association of Personal Financial Advisorscan give you a list of planners that you pay directly (fee-for-service) rather than by commission on your purchases.
- Know what’s in a name.The words “veterans” or “military families” in an organization’s name don’t necessarily mean that the group represents the best interests of veterans or their families. Some so-called advisers are dishonest and mislead veterans and their families to believe that they are veterans’ advocates representing a nonprofit or that they’re endorsed by VA.
- Feel fine about responding with a fast no -- or taking plenty of time to get to yes.Check out an organization before you give it any money or do business with it in any way. Some deceptive advisers use names, seals, and logos that look or sound like those of respected, legitimate organizations. You may see a small difference in the name of the organization from the one you mean to deal with: that’s your signal to call the organization you know to be legitimate and ask it a lot of questions.
- Consider any pressure to act fast as your cue to say no.If you decide to attend a presentation about veterans’ benefits, don’t spend any money until you’ve had time to think about the options, and play out as many potential scenarios as you can imagine. If the salesperson is giving you vague or evasive answers, walk away. This is not a person you want to trust with your money, your benefits, or your future.
- You get to decide how to spend your money.Read all the papers and the contract carefully. Understand all the terms, conditions, and implications of what you are being asked to do. Get everything you discussed in writing. If something isn’t clear to you, ask for an explanation in writing. Take your time to review and consider all your options, including doing nothing. Discuss the possibilities with a trusted friend or family member. For instance, before an annuity contract is final, you get a “free look” period. How long the period lasts depends on state law. This is your chance to decide you don’t want the annuity, return the contract, and get your money back.
- Guarantees, schmarantees: There aren’t any.If an adviser guarantees or promises that they can help you get A&A benefits, forget about it. No one can promise that the VA will award you a benefit – even someone who claims to be VA-approved or accredited. Only the VA can do that
About Victory State Bank:
VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTC: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island: The main office in the community of Great Kills, and branches in the communities of West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank. For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100 or visited online http://www.victorystatebank.com.
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