The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Fiduciary Program can take a great load off of veterans with mesothelioma by allowing another person to manage their VA benefits. This allows the veteran to focus on mesothelioma treatment and recovery. Veterans can choose their VA fiduciary in most cases. Anyone who meets the VA’s qualifications can be a VA fiduciary.
What Is a VA Fiduciary?
A VA fiduciary is someone appointed to help a disabled veteran manage their VA benefits.
The VA established its fiduciary program in 1975 to help veterans properly manage their health care and financial benefits with the help of someone they trust.
Through VA benefits, veterans with mesothelioma may receive disability compensation, medical treatment, and other forms of support depending on their condition.
However, if a veteran cannot properly manage their financial affairs or benefits, they may fall behind on payments for basic living expenses or even lose their money through third-party scams.
Reasons veterans may not be able to manage their VA benefits include:
- Mental health conditions
- Old age
Fiduciaries may be appointed in 1 of 2 ways:
- A veteran provides medical evidence showing they cannot manage their benefits on their own
- The VA or a court determines the veteran needs a fiduciary due to existing medical conditions
Though the idea of a VA-appointed fiduciary may seem scary to some, they can be very helpful in making sure a veteran gets the benefits they deserve. In addition, a veteran usually gets to choose their VA fiduciary — meaning they can pick a trusted spouse, relative, or friend.
Get a free case review to learn how the VA fiduciary program and other veterans benefits can help you.
- VA Disability Claims
- Survivor Benefits
- Finding Veteran Doctors
VA Fiduciary Benefits for Veterans With Mesothelioma
Veterans can greatly benefit from the VA’s fiduciary program — especially if they have mesothelioma.
Though the cancer takes several decades to develop, it is very aggressive and often requires intensive medical treatments (such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) to improve survival. Thankfully, veterans may be able to receive VA health care while they battle their cancer.
It can be difficult to afford various expenses during treatment — even those that may be covered by VA benefits, such as mortgage payments and grocery bills. This can add stress at a time when the veteran is already fighting for their lives.
The appointment of a fiduciary can relieve this extra burden. The veteran can devote their energy to recovering while their fiduciary ensures their benefits are used in the right ways.
VA Fiduciary Application Process
When a veteran applies for VA benefits, a VA Regional Office or Pension Management Center receives information about their medical history. Based on this information, the VA may determine that the veteran needs assistance to manage their benefits.
In this case, the veteran will receive a notice that they need to appoint a fiduciary.
If they are not automatically enrolled when they apply for VA benefits, the veteran must submit medical documents showing they are unable to manage their own affairs. From there, the VA will decide if they need a fiduciary.
VA Fiduciary Field Examiner Meeting
If the VA determines that the veteran needs a fiduciary, a field examiner will be sent to assess the veteran’s needs. This examiner can help determine who will be the best fiduciary for them.
The veteran chooses when and where to meet. Ideally, the veteran’s proposed fiduciary should attend this meeting.
The veteran should also compile a list of their income (including VA Pension and similar benefits), recurring expenses, assets, and recent bank statements for the meeting. This can help the field examiner and VA fiduciary to document the veteran’s financial situation — and will help ensure the proposed VA fiduciary does not mishandle the funds in the future.
If the proposed VA fiduciary is not available for the initial meeting, the field examiner can meet with them through a follow-up appointment.
Almost anyone can become a VA fiduciary provided they pass the VA’s screening process, which includes a competency interview and a criminal background check.
Character witnesses may also be called to assess the new fiduciary’s eligibility. The ultimate goal is to make absolutely sure the fiduciary can manage the veteran’s finances and protect their well-being.
Who Can Be a VA Fiduciary?
Appointing a VA fiduciary is an important decision, so it’s important to choose someone who is trustworthy.
In most cases, a relative or close friend will become the veteran’s fiduciary. The VA may appoint other fiduciaries in rare cases, but this is not preferred.
Common examples of VA fiduciaries include:
- Spouses: Spouses often make good VA fiduciaries because they normally live with the veteran and are their primary caregivers. They may even already be on the veteran’s bank accounts or have experience handling their VA funds.
- Family Members: Siblings, children, or other relatives are often the next best thing if a spouse cannot become the veteran’s fiduciary.
- Professional Fiduciary: These fiduciaries have the experience necessary to handle VA benefits if a loved one or relative can’t.
- Others: Someone such as a friend or neighbor can also become a VA fiduciary.
Almost anyone can become a VA fiduciary provided they pass the VA’s screening process.
How to Become a VA Fiduciary
After the field examination, the veteran’s proposed fiduciary will be vetted by the VA’s selection process. Through this, the VA will learn if the candidate can properly serve in the role.
During this vetting process, the VA may:
- Conduct an interview with the candidate
- Review the candidate’s credit report
- Investigate the candidate’s criminal background (if any)
- Interview other people as character witnesses
Through these measures, the VA can determine if the candidate has the veteran’s best interests at heart and is the best person to manage their benefits.
Appealing a VA Fiduciary Decision
Sometimes, a veteran may want to manage their own benefits even though the VA fiduciary process determines that they need one. In these cases, veterans can appeal the VA’s decision.
Veterans can appeal the decision by filing a notice of disagreement to the nearest VA fiduciary hub along with any evidence to support their claim. If the VA does not change its mind, the veteran has one year to file a formal appeal, or the decision becomes final.
Get a free veterans packet to learn more about this program and other VA benefits.
VA Benefits Help for Mesothelioma Patients
Veterans with mesothelioma need high-quality health care while they battle this rare form of cancer.
Many veterans qualify for multiple VA benefits, including ones that cover medical treatments and other costs of living. With the help of a fiduciary, they can rest easy knowing these benefits are properly managed.
To learn more about VA benefits and the VA Fiduciary Program, get in touch with the Mesothelioma Veterans Center.
Our team can help you file for VA benefits today.