Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson successfully championed two bills on behalf of military and veteran families that received Governor Inslee’s signature on March 27, 2014. The new laws, which will take effect on June 12, provide economic protection for military personnel and veterans when on active duty as well as legal protection for elderly veterans against pension poachers.
The economic protection law will align state law with federal law when it comes to financial protection when servicemembers are called to active duty.
Historically, protections under Washington state law for military servicemembers called to active duty were less than those provided under federal law.
This inequality meant that servicemembers whose active duty orders are signed by the Governor — such as in cases of a natural disaster like the recent Oso, Wash. mudslide — had fewer rights than those whose active duty orders were signed by the President.
As reported by the Attorney General’s office, “The new law brings state enforcement provisions for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) in line with the federal law and empowers the Washington State Attorney General to enforce the state and federal Acts.”
The release went on to explain that “The federal SCRA provides various financial and legal protections for military service members, such as reduced interest rates on preexisting debts, foreclosure and eviction protections, and protections from default judgments.”
The Veteran Pension Poacher Prevention Act will prohibit unfair and deceptive practices that target our elderly Veterans. “Pension poachers,” otherwise known as unscrupulous financial planners or insurance agents, claim to be veterans’ advocates but ultimately scam elderly veterans of their assets.
According to the release, the scam goes like this: “Poachers convince veterans to reposition their assets to try to qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit, which has specific and strict qualifications. The poachers then sell veterans often unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee.”
Aside from purchasing unneeded financial products, additional problems arise because the brokers “often fail to deliver on their promises, do not provide full information about other veterans’ benefits, and do not reveal the potentially adverse consequences of the financial transactions such as loss of Medicaid eligibility.”
Bottom line: Well done Attorney General. You got it done. You can find more information on the bills here.
– By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.