For several years a very popular planning strategy that caught fire was helping veterans with veterans benefits planning, or applying for aid and attendance pension benefits from the Veterans Benefits Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
(Related: Dishonesty is for losers)
This strategy came under serious scrutiny, and many marketing organizations stopped helping clients use the program. However, this program has re-emerged as a reinvented, viable, acceptable and very lucrative planning method. It also has a built-in prospecting process that actually works and is virtually cost free.
The problems of the past have been solved. When you have a very lucrative process that can earn high commissions, there are always those who will abuse the privilege. The abuse was bad enough that Veterans Affairs officials started watching closely and discovered bad apples.
When you have a bad apple in a barrel, sometimes the easiest way to solve the problem is to throw out the whole barrel. The organizations that were doing everything correctly had to weather the storm.
The veterans were the ones who suffered the most from the VA response because of a lack of real qualified help with applying for aid and attendance benefits. Many veterans are still unaware of this very valuable VA benefit.
The veteran and spouse may qualify for $34,050 of annual benefits that can be used for home health care, assisted living expenses or nursing home care.
A single veteran can receive $21,466 per year.
A surviving spouse of a veteran can receive $13,794 per year.
These are significant sums and could mean the difference between quality care and doing without. Our veterans don’t need to do without. They don’t deserve that treatment.
The veterans aid and attendance benefit is an un-advertised, underutilized benefit available to veterans of foreign wars.
Since we have had plenty of those, there are millions of veterans who may potentially qualify for this benefit. However, there are certain requirements applicants have to meet. Having too many assets or too much income can disqualify a candidate.
There are options available and allowable to fix an asset or income problem.
The best estimates are that about 60% to 70% of applicants can qualify without adjustments. The other 30% to 40% need a financial advisor to help. So, that's where a good insurance agent can help and get paid well to do so.
The two areas of concern would be how to get prospects and how to qualify the prospects.
The ability to offer all candidates help with the application creates the opportunity. Since there is no way of getting paid on the majority of the applicants, agents will need help on this part, without spending their own money to complete the application process.
The other important element is to attract the hotter prospect. There's actually a no-cost, simple solution. Referrals from assisted living facilities are critical to success in this market. The key to unlocking the referrals is the agent’s ability to accept and help all applicants. The contact at the ALF will refer clients only to a full-service application assistance program. You can't cherry pick the ones you can earn money with and tell the others to fend for themselves. The application process is complicated and can be fraught with mistakes that lead to a rejection from the VA. Veterans need professional help. There are no costs to the veteran either, so everyone benefits.
There are organizations out there that are full-service, can get the applications completed, and have full training.
There haven't been any changes in the rules for qualifying. No changes in the foreseeable future have been seriously discussed. Helping veterans and spouses with the VA aid and attendance program is a great way for agents to serve those who served us so well.
I recently referred an insurance agent to an organization that provides this excellent service.
Linda is the wife of a Marine veteran of Vietnam. She is thrilled with the idea of helping veterans and actually getting paid to do it.
If you would like an introduction to sources on this program, let me know, I'll pass on the needed contact information.
By the way, I only refer sources that have been processing the aid and attendance applications for over a decade and really know what they are doing.
--- Read Reboot Your Practice by Solving These 7 Retiree Problems on ThinkAdvisor.