Weatherford Democrat

September 15, 2013

VETERANS’ CORNER: VA clarifies, expands terms related to chemical agents


Weatherford Democrat

— On Sept. 6 the Department of Veterans Affairs adopted as a final rule its proposal to amend its adjudication regulations by clarifying and expanding the terminology regarding presumptive service connections for acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents.

This amendment implements a decision by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, based on findings from the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s report, “Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2010.”

The ruling also amends the VA’s regulation governing retroactive awards for certain diseases associated with herbicide exposure as required by court orders in the class action litigation of Nehmer v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

This final ruling shall apply to claims received by VA on or after Sept. 6, 2013, and to claims pending before VA on that date. Additionally, VA will apply this ruling in re-adjudicating certain previously denied claims as required by court orders in Nehmer v. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Read the entire final rule at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/fr-2013-09-06/html/2013-21674.htm. Link to Federal Register, Volume 78 Issue 173.

Pension scams

The ugly head of scams against veterans and senior citizens continues, with the latest scam defined as “pension advances,” abuses those who are one of 20 million Americans with military, government or corporate pensions, according to the latest September issue of AARP.

The pitch goes like this: “Why not convert some of your retirement nest egg into immediate cash?” There are a growing number of ventures that offer lump-sum payments to retirees who need extra money and agree to sign over all or part of their pension checks. But beware – pension advances are nothing more than payday loans cloaked in “sheep’s clothing.”

Recently, the New York Times reviewed more than two dozen contracts for advances and found effective interest rates of 27 percent to 106 percent, information not disclosed in advertising or found in the fine print of the contracts themselves.

Typically, firms that market pension advances argue that their products are not loans, freeing them from the need to comply with state usury laws and licensing regulations, as well as the federal Truth in Lending Act.

A U.S. Senate committee is investigating companies in the business to determine whether they charge illegally high rates of repayment interest. A good way to protect yourself is to NEVER transact anything over the phone regarding finances or property. Get a name, company name, and phone number and tell the person you will get back to them. I wonder how quickly the phone disconnects.

Speak to you again next week.

Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.