KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Filing for veterans benefits can be tricky. The paperwork is complicated. However, that's how individuals and companies are making money off those who served our country, by offering to help with disability compensation or pension paperwork for a fee.
It's illegal to charge a filing fee, but it's not illegal to charge a consultation fee.
"The veterans come in, they're very vulnerable. A lot of these places charge up front, consultation fees, and they make a lot of empty promises that may or may not come true," said Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder.
Veterans benefits representative Ray Braden says he heard of something similar happening to a local veteran on Wednesday.
"I had someone in the office just yesterday whose father happened to be a financial adviser. According to him, they had moved the assets around so he would be entitled to the VA benefit," Braden explained.
Once the consulting fee is paid, or fraud has been committed, there is little that can be done to correct the situation.
That's why TVDA wants veterans and their dependents to know it's free to file the benefits paperwork and so is help from the veterans' affairs department to file.
"We do this with highly trained individuals because there is a lot of training that's required before we will issue accreditation. And then we require quarterly training so they can keep up with all the changes within the VA system," Grinder explained.
Veterans looking for help to get additional benefits can also contact their county service office.
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