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Is an Independent Financial Advisor helping you file your VA Benefits Application?

Research Your Financial Advisor's Credentials

Rita Files
Courtesy of

Financial advisors, in reality, annuity salespeople, often provide seminars or offer VA benefits consultations to veterans and their families, especially about non-service connected pension aids and attendance. They may suggest their service is “free” and make a big deal about preparing and filing your VA benefits application without charge.

The fact is that it is against the law to charge for filing a VA application. As we all know, nothing in life is “free.” These complimentary offers are actually just part of the advisor’s selling strategy. Some financial advisors may even promise to provide, at no additional cost, estate planning, wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Beware. Only attorneys can offer legal advice, so these offers are actually against the law.

Annuity salespeople receive compensation from the annuity (“insurance”) companies they represent, when they sell a financial product to a veteran. Their consultation and application processing is actually not free; an annuity company is paying for it, and ultimately, so are you.

This is not to say an annuity product is automatically the wrong decision for all veterans. The facts and circumstances of your medical, financial and residential situation will play an important role.

For example, annuity purchases could create major issues for veterans when they enter a nursing home and file for Medicaid. It is crucial that your financial advisor is knowledgeable about both VA benefits and state Medicaid regulations. Annuity purchases could potentially create long periods of Medicaid ineligibility, in some cases.

Always ask a financial advisor if he or she is VA accredited. Then, follow up by verifying their accreditation on the VA website. If the advisor's name is not listed in any category, he/she has not completed the required education to become accredited.

The bottom line is working with an independent financial advisor is a good idea, but check their credentials and make sure they really are independent in their advise to you.

Rita Files, LPN, CALA, is a nationally recognized expert on the knowledge and skills needed for working with the elderly. She has more than 30 years of experience in eldercare. Her background includes program development for many leading providers in the senior living industry.

Rita's commitment to help veterans age with dignity fueled her desire to pursue credentials as an accredited claims agent through the Department of Veteran Affairs. Her mission, to honor those who have served and make sure they too are served, helps her provide powerful advocacy and resources to veterans and their families.

In addition to nursing experience, Files holds both state and national certifications in assisted-living administration and is a founding member of the Senior Veterans Service Alliance. Her memberships include the American Society on Aging and the National Care Planning Council. Ms. Files, founder and Executive Director of Veteran Files™, LLC is one of less than 150 accredited VA claims agents in the United States.

More information is available by visiting

Published March 7, 2013

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