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The VA’s Fiduciary Program Needs Help

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Sally

May 26, 2010 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers many programs to veterans to help with all areas of their lives. Some of these programs are heavily advertised and others are barely known. One of the least advertised programs is the VA’s fiduciary program.

The VA’s fiduciary program offers help to those veterans unable to handle their own finances. While the program itself may be considered a blessing for those unable to financially take care of themselves, it is plagued with problems.

Veterans’ fiduciary representatives can be anyone. There are more than 100,00 veterans with estates worth more than $3 billion taking advantage of the VA’s fiduciary program. For their efforts, fiduciaries are paid 4% of the account they are managing. People serving as fiduciaries can vary and can include:

  • A nursing home;
  • A company;
  • A family member; or
  • A VA appointee.

There are serious issues with the program, however. The VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued an unfavorable report on the state of the VA’s fiduciary program. The OIG’s report concluded the fiduciary program was not efficiently protecting the estates of those “incompetent beneficiaries.” The report went on to find the “insufficient staff compliance” is so poor that it encumbers the VA’s ability to protect veterans’ benefits. The report highlighted other problems as well:

  • Lack of accountability;
  • Late or falsified reports;
  • Lack of training; and
  • Theft.

 A recent Capitol Hill hearing focused on the current condition of the VA’s fiduciary program. A series of witnesses painted a very discouraging picture of the program but at the same time provided hope the program can change for the better.