David: If you want to have a public discussion on this in an open forum, I am all game.
First of all, I believe in full disclosure. That is why I posted the history of what I do. I have been in the financial services industry for over 38 years most of which I specialized in Medicaid planning. As I stated earlier, I added VA planning about 8 years ago because I saw a conflict with the way it was being done. Planners would qualify someone for the Aid and Attendance program and make the client ineligible for Medicaid when and if their level of care and costs increased. If you do any research on the subject, you will find this is a topic of conversation within the legal and financial community. Coordinating benefits is essential.
Second, you have no idea how our business operates. I can state emphatically that most of the cases our accredited agents handle are people with no or little money. I don't 'cherry pick'. Every veteran who seeks help is helped.
And, I would point out that providing information to a veteran about their benefits does not require accreditation . . .presenting and prosecuting claims does. I teach the VA accreditation course required for attorney accreditation. As you are aware, the course is a 3 hour CLE one that any attorney requesting accreditation must take. There are ample opinions from the VA General Counsel to refute your statements. On the other hand, once someone states that they want to file a claim, then an accredited agent or attorney should step in. Providing advice is not in conflict with the VA rules. And, selling product is not the only way we make money. As I have stated, we have elder law attorneys on staff. Legal fees associated with updating client wills, creating trusts, POAs, healthcare directives, etc. are all chargeable expenses. If such work is done, money comes in the door. Plus, you must remember that my main specialty is and always has been Medicaid planning. The product development done over the years has helped develop a nice following of attorneys and financial planners who use those products and on whom I receive overrides. In fact, we do well over $50 million of Medicaid planning work per year. That is and will be our main source of revenue.
And finally, I was reading the transcripts of the report from the GAOs investigation about firms that hide behind a 501 (3) c to legitimize their assistance with claims . . .whether they are accredited or not. Their concern is that the use of a non-profit designation s being used to mislead the public about the true nature of their intent. Like the 'bait and switch' tactics you callously alluded to earlier, the use of a 501 (3) c designation is, in their eyes, just as if not more sinister. As I stated earlier, I view sites around the web all the time and then research who the founder is of organizations such as yours. Many are found to be created by financial planning firms that create the non-profit but only to recruit financial planners to sell product. I guess I will have to spend more time doing research on your firm.
And, since you brought up the subject of how we make money . . . how does your firm make money? A non-profit sounds nice, but it still has to have cash flow to operate. Do you charge fees? Do you sell products or services? Do you refer veterans to other financial professionals? How do you assist them in qualifying for benefits? Are all of your staff members accredited (you are not a one-man shop)? If you are going to raise your concerns about my operation, yours, too, must become transparent.
If you want to continue this discussion, I would suggest we do so in private as I have in reaching out to you by personal email. If you want to continue the discussion on this forum, I am up to the challenge. What you serve to do is put doubt about any organization's purpose in helping veterans. This will have an adverse effect on those needing assistance who don't know who to turn to get assistance. You should know something about the people, their integrity, their mission, and their operational philosophy before you make statments that are patently false. While I appreciate your generalizations about financial firms that have popped up in the past few years who specialize in 'cherry picking', you have chosen the wrong terms to describe my purpose. I did not pop up in the past few years, and we don't cherry pick. It makes some of my associates mad when I suggest they work with everyone, but word of mouth creates a lot of referral opportunities to do other financial work with relatives, friends, the adult children (who need to review their own long-term care alternatives), etc. If you were to ask the communities and healthcare people we deal with, you would find that our reputation is just the opposite of what you state. Again, you should not make generalizations about organizations of which you know nothing about.
And can you believe that all this started because I offered to give some additional information to someone who asked a simple question on this forum? Why that piece of information offended you is hard to fathom. If the purpose is to assist veterans with the process, why wouldn't you, who says you are a legitimate organization trying to assist, provide the complete answer? In your accreditation studies you surely reviewed the section on divorce, remarriages, etc. Right? I address those subjects in all of the classes I teach. Again, my offer is simple . . if you would like a copy of the section in the adjudicator's manual that deals with divorce, remarriage, death, etc., I will be happy to provide it to you as I would anyone else reading this forum. My goal is to educate people on this benefit, the exact same stated goal that show on your website.