Cuomo Signs Legislation To Protect Veterans

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4807/A.6292) to protect veterans from scammers and unscrupulous businesses who attempt to sell unneeded financial products or services to veterans to earn a commission or fee.

The Pension Poaching Prevention Act prohibits any entity from receiving compensation for helping veterans and their dependents prepare a claim for benefits services that the entity is not authorized to provide, except as allowed under the United States Department of Veterans Affairs standards.

The bill will take effect 120 days after becoming law.

The legislation passed the state Assembly, 143-0.

“Our veterans bravely put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedoms, and we owe it to them to help ensure they have the protections and resources they need to be financially stable in the future,” Cuomo said. “There are plenty of business that legitimately assist veterans and their families. However, there are far too many bad actors who prey upon the individuals who have valiantly served our state and our nation, causing irreparable financial harm. In enacting the strongest state legislation in the nation to protect our veterans and their families from these pension poaching schemes, we are sending a clear message to these unscrupulous entities that we will not allow them to abuse our service members and recognizing the sacrifice these brave men and women have made.”

Cuomo said pension poaching is a growing scam nationwide involving unscrupulous financial planners, insurance agents or other entities who target elderly and disabled veterans.

These unethical entities claim they are assisting veterans and their families obtain benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but in fact they are often convincing veterans to reposition their assets to qualify for benefits they are not eligible for and which have specific and strict qualifications. The poachers then often sell the veteran’s unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee.

These brokers typically fail to deliver on their promise of benefits, do not provide full information about other veterans’ benefits and do not reveal the potentially adverse consequences of the financial transactions, such as loss of Medicaid eligibility.

The Pension Poaching Prevention Act puts several provisions in place to protect veterans and their families.

This legislation makes it illegal to receive compensation for assisting with the preparation of a claim and prohibits these entities from charging unreasonable fees for services and guaranteeing that an individual will receive a specific amount of veterans’ benefits money, a dishonest tactic that pension poachers commonly employ.

In addition, the legislation requires that entities offering these services inform veterans and their families that the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services and their local Veterans Service Agencies can provide free services regarding veterans’ benefits.