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Have You Been Told VA Is Appointing A Fiduciary?
You're Going To Need A Lawyer!
Jim Strickland is a Vietnam era Army veteran and nationally recognized expert on VA disability benefits
and a member of the Stateside Legal Website Advisory Board. Jim's Mailbag, is a regular column where veterans,
servicemembers, and family members can ask Jim their questions about VA and Social Security disability benefits.
You can browse all of these Q&As here, and search the Jim's Mailbag archives for helpful answers.
Email Jim your question for a quick and confidential reply.
Fiduciary Appointment Questions???
Talk with one or all of them right now!
If you have received notice that VA is considering the appointment of a fiduciary that means they believe you are incompetent to manage your own finances. This probably came about because during a C & P exam you were asked some leading questions about your money management skills and you flunked.
There is little on this page or anywhere else that will help you once VA begins to investigate you. Background checks may be run on family members to see if they have a criminal history. Credit reports are standard for anyone you suggest who may be appointed as your fiduciary. The process isn't at all friendly.
If you want to be rid of the VA fiduciary process, you must stop it BEFORE the fidu is appointed. Once the VA has completed the process and the fidu is a reality, the task of getting rid of the fidu becomes almost impossible.
You MUST take immediate action...right now.
Talk with any or all of the lawyers you'll find on this web site for free. They're waiting to hear from you...this is what they do.
Do not delay. If you want to stop the VA from running and maybe ruining your life...talk with your attorney today!
If you've been notified that the VA is proposing to appoint a fiduciary to help you manage
your VA disability money, you need a veterans law attorney to represent you right now.
This article provides field examiners (FEs) guidance on the documentation of fiduciary specific information within the Beneficiary Fiduciary Field System (BFFS) FELux, the generation of field examination FElux letters and forms, and work item FElux documentation requirements.
CREDIT AND CRIMINAL BACKGROUND REVIEW
COMMISSION AND ESTATE PROTECTION (BOND)
ADMIN AND ACCOUNTING
GENERATING FELUX LETTERS AND FORMS
DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS BY WORK ITEM TYPE
By The Numbers - How This Works-What To Do
1) You receive notice that VA is proposing to appoint a fiduciary.You are shocked and you do not agree. This is only a proposal, not a decision. You have the right to appeal.
2) DON'T PANIC! Sit down and read the letter very carefully. Read it again. There is valuable information in the letter you received.
4) Mail the form using Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Do not use anything other than Certified Mail!
5) Do not delay! Don't run around asking everyone what to do. Don't try to collect statements from anyone like family or friends. Don't do anything but get the letter in the mail.
6) Once VA gets the NOD form, they will reply to tell you that you can't file a NOD yet because no decision has been made. Don't worry about that. Your NOD has notified them that they have made a mistake. You are now on record with the disagreement.
7) Wait patiently. After VA receives your NOD they will probably schedule you for another C & P exam. During this C & P exam you will
be asked about how you manage your finances. Answer truthfully and completely.
8) You're done. That wasn't hard, was it?
VA will ask to set up a meeting with you in your residence.
This meeting will be with a VA Field Agent (or examiner) who will ask you about your finances, do background checks on people in your home, perform credit rating checks and so on. He/she will tell you that as an incompetent veteran you can not have guns
in your house and you will not have the right to purchase firearms.
Ostensibly, the VA field agent will try to determine who in your family may be appointed as your fiduciary. Many times the agent will find that nobody in your family has a good enough credit record so he/ she will appoint a paid fiduciary.
In either case, you will lose control of the money you have earned from VA. The paid fiduciary will take their cut of the money each month and if you want any of it, you must go through a complex process of asking for it.
Often, your request for money is ignored or denied.
If you have a fiduciary today and you're unhappy about it or if you have just been notified that VA is thinking of appointing a fiduciary, you may appeal.
We urge every veteran who is unhappy with their fiduciary appointment to talk with a veterans law attorney.
The veterans law attorney will provide a free case assessment and let you know what can be done.
If you're having issues with a fidu appointment talk with an accredited veterans law attorney today!!!
Far too many veterans get this sort of notice and then they don't respond appropriately.
This Is Not A Spectator Sport
You Must Act NOW!!!
If the appropriate response doesn't happen in a timely manner, the VA will act on the proposal and appoint a fiduciary. The fiduciary is then free to act to control the finances and the result is often a major problem for the veteran. The following will apply to actions the veteran must take when he/she is first notified that a fiduciary appointment is being considered. These steps must be done as soon as possible after the letter arrives.
Time spent calling a Congressperson, consulting a VSO and so on is usually time wasted. Note that all these steps must be conducted in writing. There should be no phone calls and no emails. Faxes are not a good idea This is a very serious matter and the veteran must initiate a strong defensive plan of action.
Letters must be as brief as possible and state all the facts. Mailing must be done via USPS Certified Mail with Return Receipt
Requested. When you write to VA you must not display anger or emotion. Ultimately, you must get involved quickly if you do not believe that appointing a fiduciary for you is warranted.
What to do when the fiduciary letter arrives
Most veterans do not understand the VA fiduciary appointment process. When a letter arrives telling the veteran he or she is incompetent to handle their VA award money, it's usually a shock. Very few Veterans Service Officers or advocates within a
Congressional Representatives office are usually of little help.
VA will often try to appoint a fiduciary when the veteran is rated at 100% for a mental health problem and there will be an award of retroactive pay that is greater than $20,000.00. There is often no particular reason for the proposal to appoint a fiduciary.
VA should always try to appoint a close family member although that doesn't usually happen. In any case, whoever is appointed will be required to complete paperwork and clear any expenditures by the veteran through the VA.
If the appointment of a fiduciary can be avoided, it should be.
The process usually works like this:
(1) The veteran has a C & P exam where the topic of finances is brought up. The examiner may write a brief note that "Veteran is incompetent to manage his finances." This may or may not be true. I've observed cases where the veteran said "My wife handles our checkbook" and that has been interpreted by VA as enough to declare the veteran incompetent.
(2) A letter will arrive that is a "proposal" to begin an investigation and to appoint a fiduciary.
(3) If the veteran does not properly and timely respond to this proposal, an appointment is made for a VA Field Examiner (or Agent) to come to the veterans home to discuss the proposal to appoint a fiduciary.
(4) If the Field Examiner does come to the home they will soon after begin to run credit reports and other background checks to determine whether the spouse, parent or perhaps a sibling may act as fiduciary.
(5) If no approval is made for a family member, the FE will see that a VA appointed "professional" fiduciary is appointed. That person may be a banker, lawyer or other VA approved person and they will then take over the veterans VA money.
The veteran will then have to seek any funds through the appointed fiduciary.
To get notice that the VA is proposing to appoint a fiduciary is always an unpleasant, unwelcome surprise.
The veteran may or may not need help and guidance with the award money he or she has earned. The VA fiduciary appointment program is one of the more mismanaged and poorly understood problems of your VA.
If you disagree with the appointment of a fiduciary in your case, you must act in your own interests and you must act quickly.
Read this page carefully. Then proceed to help yourself.
Overall, many of the processes at your VA are badly broken. The fiduciary appointment system is mismanaged and often abusive to the targeted veteran.
While many veterans do need help to manage their financial affairs, there are a lot of you who get caught up in the process through a series of errors. Once you are in this quagmire, it is often very difficult to get out.
In 2011 there was a major decision by the CAVC that is beginning to help change things. That's usually called The Freeman Decision and you should read it now. This is a complex legal document but it will help to to develop your appeal. In VA terms, a fiduciary is a legal guardian who will manage the money that VA has awarded to you for your service connected condition(s).
VA may attempt assign a fiduciary to manage your financial affairs if you are determined to be incompetent to do that for yourself. In theory the VA fiduciary will only have authority to manage VA funds but if you have other income mixed with the money from VA, they will often seize it all.
Many veterans aren't aware that they're being examined for incompetence. During a routine C & P exam the examiner may ask you
"How do the bills get paid around your house?" or a similar question. There are a lot of us who would innocently reply; "My spouse writes all the checks. We find it easier to let her do all the banking stuff and she's better at it than I am. It works for us."
To most C & P examiners that means you can not handle your own finances. They will make a brief note, "Veteran is not competent to manage his finances."
Once that little remark is in your record, you have a world of problems coming your way. You will then be notified that there is a "proposal" to appoint a fiduciary for you. The first contact may be by mail or by telephone.
VA Form 21-526EZ
Disability Service Connection
Secondary Service Connection
Temporary Total Disability Rating
Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151
Special Monthly Compensation
Special Home Adaptation
Benefits Based on a Veteran's
Seriously Disabled Child
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Department of Veterans Affairs Fiduciary Program Manual
Fiduciary Program Responsibilities
Delegation of Authority
Definitions for Program Purposes
Responsibilities of the Field Examiner (FE)
Responsibilities of the Legal Instruments Examiner
Responsibilities Regarding the Release of Information
Coordination with Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
The VA fiduciary program is the most dangerous and corrupt offering from a dangerous and corrupt system. If VA approaches you about a fidu appointment, call a lawyer...quickly!
VA Identifies Additional Beneficiaries in Need of Fiduciary Assistance
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that an information technology system that it deployed in 2014 and enhanced in 2015, the Beneficiary Fiduciary Field System, allowed it to identify claim processing errors affecting approximately 14,000 Veterans and survivors. These Veterans’ and survivors’ claims were initially filed over many years, with some going back
as far as 2000. The errors concern cases in which VA had proposed that due to disability or age the beneficiary was unable to manage his or her VA benefits without assistance, but did not complete the action by transferring it within VA for appointment of a fiduciary. These cases represent approximately four percent of such proposals since 2000.
GOP targets veterans gun ban
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reported more than 257,000 former members of the military who cannot manage their finances to the FBI’s list of people who are not allowed to own guns, Republicans claim, even though "it has nothing to do with regulating firearms.”
The VA is responsible for appointing a fiduciary to help veterans who it determines cannot manage their own finances, but the agency
is also taking the additional step of reporting these veterans to the “mental defective” category of the FBI’s background check system, even if they do not pose a danger to society, the senators allege.
Hey Jim...can you help?
I'm a veteran from Desert Storm. I live in an assisted living facility in FL. I've been living here since 2011. Since I moved in I've been harassed, abused, and robbed by my neighbors in and out of the apartment.
My husband served in the Army and has passed away. Can I, his wife, go to the Army base and have my will made out? I didn't know if I could since he is longer living.
I'm messaging you on behalf of my husband. Last night I had to bail my husband out of jail, he had a warrant out for his arrest. Because, a little over a month ago he had a PTSD attack, with suicidal thoughts. (Combat Veteran, in Syria, less than two years ago)
My ex husband get VA benefits he gets over $3,400 and now brags he gets even more. He is supposed to pay $400 once a month and he can't even do that and taunts me how he can't be touched or his VA benefits.
I am 100 percent Disabled unable to work. While waiting for this decision, I was on Disability SSI which rolled over to social security after i turned 65. Am collecting both now. Do I have to give up one or the other ?
My son's mother applied for a state benefit assistance in Michigan and they asked if she was living with me and she said no and now they're coming after me will making me go to court to decide how much child support I should pay for her.
Shortly after I got a medical discharge, I got pregnant. The VA stated they would pay all expense plus delivery and 6 weeks after delivery, however they never paid anything. She was born early and thankfully only stayed in hospital 11 days. However it raked up $76,000 in debt.