As a veteran, I can attest to the value that financial advisors can bring to the men and women of our armed forces and their families. Regardless of whether you, as a financial services professional, choose to specialize in a niche of financial planning uncommonly known as Veterans Health Administration Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits … and specifically within a subset of Veterans Benefits called “Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Benefits,” as a knowledgeable and competent practitioner, you need to at least know of the existence of these programs. You also need to have a modicum of knowledge related to Veterans Benefits in general, and I would even suggest a base of knowledge related to military retirement benefits as well. Like many other areas of specialized knowledge, for those clients for whom the programs are suitable, this information can be invaluable and will position you as a truly value-added practitioner.
Now for those financial advisors seeking these types of additional opportunities, ask yourself the following questions: Are you looking for a way to stand out from the crowd? Are you willing to plant some seeds that may not be harvested for a few years? Do you have the desire and the temperament to work with older clients? Do you have a soft place in your heart for veterans and their widowed spouses? Lastly, are you willing to work with fellow professionals, including licensed attorneys and CPAs? If you can answer YES to these questions, you might be a candidate to work in this specialized niche.
If you have older clients who are veterans of wartime service in the armed forces of the United States, they may qualify for a benefit from the Veterans Administration that does not necessarily require:
• Their receiving compensation for the VA as a precondition
• Their being retired from the military service in which they served
In addition, these benefits, although based solely on the service of the veteran, are also payable to the widow of a qualifying veteran.
What kind of benefit dollars are we talking about, when we talk about the Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit Program? For a veteran with a dependent, the monthly benefit can be as much as $1,949.00. For a veteran without dependents, the monthly benefit can be as much as $1,644.00 and for a widow(er), the monthly benefit could be as much as $1,056.00. As you would expect with any government entitlement program, there are asset and income limitations and eligibility requirements to contend with, but if the veteran qualifies, these benefits can go a long way to making a difference in the quality of life for a veteran or a widow(er).
While I would encourage you to educate yourself on the full range of benefits available from the Veteran’s Administration, to better serve your clients, if you do not want to embark on the learning curve necessary to become qualified to advise veterans on these matters, you can find professionals able and willing to assist you and your clients at The ElderCare Matters Alliance. Or if you just want additional information about the information discussed herein, visit the ElderCare Matters website.
For those advisors willing to embrace the learning curve, there are a number of veterans’ organizations that have educational materials available for financial advisors, including The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion and The Disabled Veterans of America (DAV). Of course, the Veteran’s Administration website also contains a tremendous amount of information regarding their benefit programs.
If you have the ability to work with widows in their darkest hours, two additional organizations you might consider educating yourself about are American Gold Star Mothers, mothers of fallen military member, and Gold Star Wives of America, who are the wives of fallen military members.
Last but not least my fellow insurance professionals, November 11th is Veterans Day. Remember to thank a veteran this Veterans Day. He or she will be honored and humbled and you will feel good for having done so.
Kevin Lynch, CLU®, ChFC®, RHU®, REBC®, CASL®, CAP®, LUTCF, CFP®, is an assistant professor of insurance at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He also is the host of "Wealth Today," a featured presentation on www.thewealthchannel.com.
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