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Wyden, colleagues introduce bill to safeguard veterans filing benefit claims


WASHINGTON (KTVZ) — Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., joined colleagues from both parties Tuesday to introduce legislation that would hold unaccredited entities targeting veterans accountable for their predatory practices.

“Veterans deserve easy and safe access to the benefits they’ve earned.” Wyden said. “The GUARD VA Benefits Act would protect veterans against middlemen profiting off their service by reinstating criminal penalties to scamsters charging unauthorized fees. I’ll continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure veterans in Oregon and nationwide have the resources they need to make informed decisions about their health care.”

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 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 legislation was led by Senators John Boozman, R-Ark., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Alongside Wyden, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Angus King, I-Maine, Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.

The text of the GUARD VA Benefits Act is here.

Article Topic Follows: War-Military

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