In the vast majority of cases, veterans are allowed to spend their VA disability benefits in any way they wish. However, if a veteran suffers from a mental illness or physical impairment that affects their ability to manage their finances, the VA might require that a fiduciary be appointed to oversee how the benefit payments are used.
When a Fiduciary May Be Needed
Since disabilities can vary in severity, a veteran is not automatically required to have a fiduciary. A fiduciary will be needed only if a veteran’s Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam reveals symptoms that indicate they would struggle to manage their benefits appropriately. Some situations where a fiduciary might be needed include mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), age-related dementia, or the lasting effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The VA can only require a fiduciary for VA benefit payments. This means, a veteran maintains the right to manage any other assets or income they might have.
Choosing a Fiduciary
If a fiduciary is needed, you can request that a specific person be appointed to serve in this role. Often, veterans will have a spouse, family member, or close personal friend serve as their fiduciary. To be formally approved, the person you choose must undergo a credit report review, criminal background check, and interview with a VA representative. Character references will also be needed.
Right to Appeal
A veteran who disagrees with the assessment that a fiduciary is needed can appeal by submitting relevant evidence demonstrating they are able to manage their finances appropriately. This would include bank statements, evidence that bills are paid on time, or lay statements from friends and family attesting to financial responsibility.
A veteran who believes their current fiduciary is not acting in their best interests can request a review or ask to have a new fiduciary be appointed. This request can be made at any time.
Do You Need to Speak With a Veterans Benefits Lawyer?
If you need to speak with an experienced veterans benefits lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.