New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation on August 23, 2019, that protects veterans from pension poaching and other scams.
The Pension Poaching Prevention Act makes it illegal for anyone to receive compensation for assisting a veteran with a claim. The law also prevents businesses and organizations from charging unreasonable fees and guaranteeing a person will get a specific amount of money.
According to Governor Cuomo's office, the number of pension poaching scams are increasing nationwide. Pension poaching involves insurance agents, financial planners and other entities who target veterans and the elderly.
New York First To Start Programs For Veterans
A new program in New York introduced by the city’s Department of Veterans Services called HUD-VASH Continuum is the first in the country to help disconnected veterans who are ineligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and support services like housing due to the amount of time they served in the military or bad discharge papers. The new program helps veterans find access to housing services for which they otherwise wouldn’t be eligible.
The traditional HUD-VASH program, which was started in 2008, was a collaboration between two federal agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The vouchers are distributed based on a series of factors, including health care eligibility, homelessness status and income.
With HUD-VASH Continuum there are three levels to the program: 1. Veteran Peer Coordinators, who work directly with the veterans to find housing opportunities; 2. The aftercare program to help veterans after they’ve moved into housing; and 3. A housing team working with the veteran and coordinating with the landlords to choose apartments that are appropriate for veterans. Once the landlords meet with the housing team and agree to work with DVS, they bring the veterans to look at the apartments before they move in.
Free Legal Services
On September 9, 2019, Sens. Jen Metzger and James Skoufis joined Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) CEO Barbara Finkelstein to announce $200,000 in state funding that will support the organization’s Veterans and Military Families Advocacy Project (VMFAP). Metzger and Skoufis were instrumental in restoring the funding in this year’s state budget, following a proposed cut by the governor.
According to the LSHV team, veterans often face unique legal problems on their return from duty, and without the assistance of a trained attorney, many of them are unable to navigate the legal system on their own. LSHV provides legal services for free to veterans and helps them access benefits and services for housing, safety, health and employment.