Protecting Veterans from Benefits Claim Sharks
In order to help combat claim sharks, the VFW put together an informational sheet to help spread the word on fraudulent agents and companies. It outlines warning signs, predatory practices, and protective measures Veterans can take. We can play a part in this by ensuring we are not referring individuals to these for-profit organizations and companies. A Claim Shark is an individual or company that charges hefty fees to “assist” or “consult” Veterans with filing their VA benefit claims. Claim sharks are not VA-accredited, so they are not required to adhere to the same professional and ethical standards. They often promise a guaranteed raise in disability compensation and to speed up the timeline for the process, saying they will only accept pay when the disability check is delivered. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts; everyone must go through the same VA claims process. In fact, these companies often charge five times the amount of the veteran’s retroactive compensation, potentially costing him or her thousands of dollars, according to the VFW. This is an issue that impacts the livelihood of Veterans and their families, individuals who have already sacrificed so much. We remind you to inform Veterans:
- Paying for services will not speed up the process.
- Always work with VA-accredited representatives and urge them to verify any disability claim agents through the VA’s accreditation portal.
- Attend all exams ordered by the VA.
- Do not sign contracts, agree to fees or payments from future benefits, agree to pay for medical consultations or opinions, or provide access to Protected Health Information or Personal Identifiable Information.
There are free services available through VA-accredited local Veteran Service Officers at the county level or through a Veteran Service Organization such as the VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans, to name a few. The VA has also published a number of videos to better explain the benefits claim process, and we encourage team members to refer to and direct Veterans to these sources: How to File a VA Disability Claim and What is a VA Disability and Who Can Apply?