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February 17, 2011

Veterans Duped into Paying for Service Offered for Free (USA)


February 16, 2011

An often overlooked veterans' benefit has now come into the spotlight. The problem is some vets think they have to pay to get the benefit. The program is sometimes called the VA's best kept secret and for some low income veterans it can be a lifesaver.
Veterans and their spouses can qualify for help through a program called Veterans' Aid and Attendance. It is there for those who need assistance with self care and have a low income. It helped Archie and Doris Uchida when they need it most. Their daughter, Debbie Uchida, also spoke to us about this.
"It is a big chunk of money to offset the cost of an assisted living facility," said Debbie.
Willard Smith, 93, heard about the program and was referred to Charles Enea.
"He didn't mention money for the first half of this month-long deal," said Smith.
Smith said Enea worked on securing the veteran's benefit, even bringing in an attorney to set up an irrevocable trust. Smith and his wife received the benefit.
"When I asked him how he got reimbursed he said he was certified for '250' an hour. I thought gee, $2.50 an hour, that's a pretty low fee for $2-and-a-half an hour, that is nothing," said Smith.
Smith said he thought Enea was a volunteer for a seniors group -- then Smith got the bill.
"It was for just over $10,000," said Smith.
Apparently that $2.50 was $250 an hour.
"This is financial elder abuse, what has happened to the Millers," said attorney Kathryn Stebner. "When you take money from an elder with the intent to defraud them, in California, that is elder abuse."



Abridged
SOURCE:      ABC Local


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