WASHINGTON –– U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined in introducing bipartisan legislation to hold unaccredited entities that target men and women who served in uniform accountable for their predatory practices. The Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act would reinstate criminal penalties for unaccredited claim representatives who charge unauthorized fees while helping file a disability claim. The bill was led by Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
“Our veterans have bravely served our country, and when they try to access their VA benefits, the last thing they need to deal with is wrongdoers trying to profit off of veterans,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that unaccredited entities who scam veterans get criminal penalties, and I am grateful for the advocacy of NH Veterans of Foreign Wars in bringing awareness to this issue. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to work across the aisle to support our veterans in New Hampshire and across the country.”
Current law prohibits unaccredited individuals and businesses from charging a fee for assisting a veteran in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a VA benefit claim. However, the VA and other federal agencies are limited in their ability to enforce the law because criminal penalties were eliminated from the statute nearly 20 years ago. The bipartisan Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act reinstates those penalties.
This legislation is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen support for veterans. For example, this summer, the President signed into law Senator Hassan and colleagues’ historic, bipartisan military toxic exposure bill. The President also signed into law Senator Hassan and colleagues’ Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021 to direct the VA to create a program to recruit military medical personnel who have less than one year left in their service to work in federal health care occupations at the VA.