RICHMOND — Securing long-term care is a
priority for many aging U.S. military veterans and their families. Many are turning
to financial and estate planning services to assist them in accessing pension benefits
to help with their future care.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) reminds veterans to thoroughly evaluate any
financial product and the person or company offering it before handing over their
hard-earned money or benefits. Shop around, compare prices and terms, and ask questions
to make sure a product is suitable for your particular needs.
Pension benefits are available to low-income wartime veterans who are 65 and older,
or who are permanently or totally disabled by conditions unrelated to their military
service. The Veterans Administration (VA) accredits financial planners and lawyers
who can help veterans and their families fill out and file the paperwork necessary
to access those benefits. However, the VA does not endorse the financial products
these individuals sell to veterans to help finance their long-term care. In addition,
the financial planners must be licensed or registered to sell financial and insurance
products and, in many cases, those financial products must be registered with the
To determine if a person is properly licensed to sell insurance, contact the SCC’s
Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at (804) 371-9041 or toll-free (in Virginia) at
1-800-552-7945 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/ConsumerInquiry/.
Before doing business with any investment professional, veterans should also check
with the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising to determine whether
the individual and/or security is properly registered and if there have been any
complaints or disciplinary action involving that individual or his firm. To contact
the Securities Division, call (804) 371-9051 in Richmond or toll-free in Virginia
at 1-800-552-7945 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/srf/index.aspx.
The SCC also encourages veterans and their families to consider the following:
- Annuities – Senior veterans, in particular, should exercise caution when investing
in annuities so they do not lose access to funds they may need for future expenses.
An annuity is a contract in which an insurance company makes a series of income
payments at regular intervals in return for a premium or premiums paid by the owner.
Annuities are most often purchased for future income and can be structured to provide
income for long periods of time. Deferred annuities may not be suitable for older
veterans since, with these products, the owner does not receive payment for the
premium investment for several years and withdrawing funds from it early can be
The Bureau of Insurance has regulations in place that prohibit unsuitable sales
of annuity products to seniors, particularly for men and women who served in the
armed forces. Before signing a contract for an annuity, the Bureau of Insurance
encourages veterans to make sure they understand the terms of the contract, how
any money is invested, and when the benefit payments will begin, keeping in mind
the consumer’s financial status, tax status, and investment objectives, among other
- Marketing and Sales Practices – The SCC urges veterans to beware of individuals
who may claim to be veterans advocates representing a nonprofit organization or
claiming to be endorsed by the Veterans Administration when, in fact, they are insurance
agents trying to sell a product. In some cases, these individuals may use false
or misleading designations that seem to indicate they are an expert in senior issues
when they are not. Some may hold presentations at assisted living facilities presumably
to help veterans complete pension applications to qualify for their VA benefits,
but do not disclose that they are actually insurance agents selling annuities to
help veterans qualify for the benefits.
For additional information, visit www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/fyi.aspx.