Veterans don’t need to pay for help to apply for benefits in Pa.
Westmoreland County’s director of Veterans Affairs is reminding veterans that applying for benefits should never come with a fee.
“Veterans’ benefits are something that really aren’t supposed to be monetized,” said Matt Zamosky, one of 200 accredited veteran service officers working in Pennsylvania.
Zamosky said the issue of military veterans being charged when applying for benefits is a recurring problem in Pennsylvania, where there are an estimated 800,000 veterans.
“Unfortunately, there are still some in our communities who attempt to profit by assisting veterans to sign up for their benefits. Veterans should never have to pay to apply,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
In January, an Allegheny County company was fined $10,000 after an employee falsely held himself out as an accredited veteran service officer. Some of the claims handled by the Allison Park firm were from Westmoreland County, Zamosky said.
Veterans should seek help only from an accredited veteran service officer, an attorney accredited by the VA or an accredited claims agent, Zamosky said.
Such agents provide veterans and their dependents free assistance to identify, determine eligibility for and apply for a wide range of benefits on the local, state and federal levels, including:
- Payment of burial allowances;
- Ensuring grave markers and headstones are properly requested and placed;
- The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program;
- Veterans emergency assistance;
- Blind and paralyzed veterans pensions;
- The Education Gratuity Program;
- Service connected disability and non-service connected disability pensions;
- Federal health care benefits; and
- Survivor benefits.
To locate a county director of veterans affairs or for more information, visit the DMVA online at www.dmva.pa.gov and click on Veterans Affairs.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .