The House recently passed the Veterans Care Financial Protection Act unanimously. The bill, if passed by the Senate, would bring rules that could make it difficult for people pretending to be financial advisers to scam veterans. Representative Matt Cartwright introduced the bill, calling it a “bipartisan, bicameral, commonsense proposal to protect our nation’s veterans from financial scams.” The bill requires the Veterans Administration to coordinate with other federal, state, and outside agencies to develop and implement standards to protect disabled and elderly veterans from predatory practices that appear to be financial advice. For example, scammers took advantage of the Aid and Attendance benefit available to veterans who qualify for a VA pension and need financial help with in-home care or assisted living. The application is free, but scammers charged a fee for helping veterans apply. If you need help applying for the benefits you deserve, contact your local American Legion or other veteran-related organizations. The bill calls for a Government Accountability Office report in 18 months after the bill is enacted to determine the effectiveness of the VA’s measures.
Anukul and Anurag Dass were a brother and sister team who ran a pain clinic in Houston before they were charged with a seven-year fraud scheme, during which time they requested $9.1 million in reimbursement for false workers’ compensation claims. An associate of the Dass’s, Stephen Hunt, turned himself in. The brother and sister ran A&A Pain and Wellness Center, Inc. from 2010 to 2017. Hunt allegedly sent postal employees to the pain clinic and got kickbacks for each claim Anukul and Anurag filed falsely for medical treatment and health care services. Workers’ Compensation was billed more than $9.1 million in services that were either not rendered or unnecessary. They paid Anukul and Anurag $7.2 million on claims that the government alleges are fraudulent.
A recent AARP survey finds that veterans can be victimized by scams twice as often as the rest of the public. Approximately 16% of United States veterans have lost money, compared with 8% of the rest of the population, in the last five years. Veterans may be more willing to trust someone who served in the military, so many fraudsters pretend to be veterans themselves. And veterans may be less likely to ask questions about donating money to a charity that claims to help veterans and service members. The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the United States Postal Inspection Service have launched Operation Protect Veterans, which is a national campaign to warn the military about scams. They will use ads, social media, email messages, and a website to get the word out. The website is available at: www.aarp.org/ProtectVeterans. Research also indicates that veterans who end up as victims of scams may have faced significant financial losses or suffered a personal injury. If anyone offers you advice on how to claim veterans benefits, check with your state veterans’ affairs agency first. You can also visit the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs at http://www.nasdva.us.
The National Women’s Law Center has formed the Legal Network for Gender Equity and has recruited more than 80 attorneys from 50 states to assist women and girls who are victims of sex discrimination. The Law Center has grown concerned that sex discrimination protections have weakened under the Trump Administration. More categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, may opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections. Efforts by the EEOC to collect data from large companies about what they pay their employees by job category, race, ethnicity, and gender have been halted. And Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault has been revoked and replaced with new instructions that allow universities to require higher standards of evidence when handling complaints. The goal is to have attorneys affiliated with the network in all 50 states. The National Women’s Law Center will serve as the network’s hub to provide women and girls with legal resources and names of attorneys who are willing to take on cases.
The Veterans Administration is attempting to balance treating pain while preventing addiction because veterans are not immune to the opioid crisis. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 was enacted to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic, and the VA is trying to wean veterans off opioids, while treating pain with options other than just drugs. There is evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy, commitment therapy, and acceptance can decrease pain and improve function. Swim or occupational therapy are also options. And holistic treatments like acupuncture may help ease physical pain as well. Many wonder if medical marijuana could be another option to combat veteran pain, but as long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the VA will not prescribe it for patients.
A recent study that analyzed data from the United States and England recently found a correlation between poverty and higher rates of disability and death. The study examined almost 20,000 people between ages 54 and 76. Over a 10-year period, Americans aged 54 to 64 who were in the lowest income bracket were at a 48% risk for developing a disability and a 17% risk of dying prematurely. Similar results were observed in the United Kingdom. Dr. Lena Makaroun, the study’s lead author, stated: “Seeing similar results in both countries, in both age groups, suggests that [additional] health care or [additional] financial benefits later in life may not be enough” when it comes to those who enter their later years in poor financial health. Each person in the study was evaluated based on their total assets, including real estate, retirement savings, investment accounts, and vehicles, minus their total debts. Disability status was determined based on an individual’s ability to bathe, eat, get dressed, get in and out of bed, and use the bathroom on their own. Although the study could not prove that poverty actually causes early death or disability, it suggests that the main stressors associated with… Continue Reading Disability and Death for Poorer People
Sydney Henderson will turn 100 on November 18th. Although a friend is planning a party for her, all she wants is for Wells Fargo (which holds a reverse mortgage on her condo) to stop foreclosing procedures against her for $24,000 in back taxes. When she took out a reverse mortgage in 1998, she believed she enrolled in a state program that allowed senior citizens with reverse mortgages to defer property taxes and roll them into their mortgage. Wells Fargo determined that she should have been paying the taxes all along. Sydney believes there’ll be enough equity in her condo when she dies to make the bank whole plus a profit. Her party planning friend saw the foreclosure notice in the paper and contacted an attorney. The day before the foreclosure, the attorney filed for Chapter 13 protection which temporarily stopped the proceeding. Sydney’s attorney has tried to negotiate with Wells Fargo. He has sent them letters which they acknowledge receiving but nothing else. He tried speaking to the attorney handling the case for Wells Fargo but she won’t return his calls. The bank’s spokesperson has told him as of September 1st, another company is handling all of the bank’s reverse… Continue Reading Wells Fargo Wants the Home of 99 Year Old Woman
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has launched a new online system for filing and tracking claims of workplace discrimination, effective November 1, 2017. Generally, someone who believes he or she has been discriminated against must file an EEOC charge before they can file an employment discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in federal court. The EEOC’s “Public Portal” allows users to provide and update contact information, upload documents to his or her charge file, agree to mediate the charge, check on the status of his or her charge, and receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency. The online features also work for charges that are currently in investigation or mediation, as long as they were filed after January 1, 2016. Individuals who do not have internet access may call 1.800.669.4000 to get information about how to submit an inquiry to their local EEOC office. Depending on which state you live in, you may have to file a charge of discrimination within 180 or 300 days of the discriminatory act.