(G.U.A.R.D.) Veterans Affairs Benefit Act

(G.U.A.R.D.) Veterans Affairs Benefit Act 4Attorney General Jason Miyares today joined a 44-state bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in issuing a letter to congressional leaders expressing support for the passage of legislative proposals included in the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (G.U.A.R.D.) Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Act.

“Our veterans have dedicated their lives to protecting every American. They deserve to have clear, easy access to their benefits. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would hold unaccredited and unregulated actors accountable for targeting and exploiting veterans seeking federal VA benefits,” said Attorney General Miyares. “The fact that there are bad actors out their manipulating the system to take advantage of our nation’s bravest is wrong. Solving this problem is long overdue.”

Federal law requires proper accreditation through the VA Office of General Counsel (OGC) for anyone who assists veterans in preparing, presenting, or prosecuting claims. However, in 2006, the law’s criminal penalties were removed and the OGC virtually lost its power to enforce the statute. Without accountability mechanisms, unaccredited actors can advertise coaching and consultation services that are supposedly superior to the free services offered by accredited actors, such as veteran service officers, claim agents, and attorneys.

In reality, unaccredited actors may only answer questions or advise while the veterans have to do the work. The unaccredited actors also never contact the veteran once the claim is completed. Conversely, accredited veteran service officers and claim agents do all the required work and remain available to the veteran – unaccredited actors do not have access to the VA claim system. Some require the veteran to share system logins, passwords, or even bank account information so fees can be immediately withdrawn before the veteran even learns claim money has been deposited.

Joining Attorney General Miyares in submitting the letter are the attorneys general of: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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