WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho) joined Senators John Boozman (R-Ark) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), senior members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, in introducing the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act. The GUARD VA Benefits Act would penalize unaccredited entities for charging unauthorized fees for “helping” an individual who served in uniform file a disability claim.
Current law prohibits unaccredited individuals and businesses from charging a fee for assisting a veteran in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a VA benefit claim. However, the VA and other federal agencies are limited in their ability to enforce the law because criminal penalties were eliminated from the statute nearly 20 years ago.
“Individuals who knowingly exploit our nation’s veterans for profit must be held accountable,” said Risch. “The GUARD VA Benefits Act protects our veterans and the benefits they have earned for their honorable service to our country.”
“Shameful predatory practices to cheat veterans out of their benefits need to be stopped immediately,” said Crapo. “We must protect our nation’s veterans and the services they earned through their dedication and sacrifice.”
“Ensuring veterans have the resources to make informed decisions about filing VA claims is an important part of helping them access the benefits they’ve earned. They also deserve to have trusted and reliable advocates working on their behalf, which is why we must hold accountable those aiming to make a profit off their service. I’m proud to join my colleagues to strengthen education of the claims process and hold bad actors responsible for their predatory practices,” said Boozman.
“This legislation is needed because unaccredited claims representatives often extract exorbitant profits from veterans,” said Blumenthal. “Predatory scammers who exploit our heroes must be held accountable – which is why the GUARD VA Benefits Act makes strong bipartisan sense. By strengthening the VA’s enforcement authority, we can protect our veterans charged for benefits they’ve rightfully earned.”
Additional cosponsors of the GUARD VA Benefits Act are Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Click here to read the GUARD VA Benefits Act.
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