Veterans Target Of Outrageous Predatory Fees With New Scam


VFW Past State Commander Royce Kelb is warning veterans about lawyers who are filing their disability claims and then taking outrageous fees for their services from settlements.

“Some lawyers are advertising their services to help disabled veterans apply for VA disability status and then taking 50 to 75 percent of their settlements,” said Past Commander Kelb. “The vets have earned all the money they get. They deserve it and want it. A vet can get help applying for disability from credited service officers free of charge, but don’t always know where to go. The American Legion Post #217 in Warsaw and the VFW have these officers. I am also willing to talk to anyone about how to get help. I am a Veteran Information Officer (VISO) who can give you information about how to find a credited service officer. I can be contacted at (660) 287-5434.”

In addition, reports that Amvets, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed Veterans of America provide these free services and one does not have to be a member of any of the organizations to get help. The website also has information for different VISO's in the state including the office for Saline, Benton, Pettis and Cooper Counties which can be contacted at or at (573) 986-4033.

Leatha Scott, of Benton County, served six years in the U.S. Army, two of those years in Germany. She was contacted by a lawyer from the Benton County area who said he could get disability benefits for her if she paid them 25 percent of her settlement. She waited nine months for the lawyer’s firm to get her an appointment to start the process of applying for her benefits. Sometime afterwards she decided that she did not want to continue with the firm, but the lawyer harassed her to finish the process with him telling her that he was VA approved and that she would get 100 percent of her settlement.

“I talked to the VA about this firm and was told that it was VA approved,” said Scott. “So I let the lawyer finish up my application. However, when my settlement came in, I was harassed and asked to pay almost $4,000 which was 50 percent of my settlement and I couldn’t afford to fight it in small claims court, so I paid it. I needed all the money. I am on a fixed income, am helping take care of my mom, and soon after getting my settlement my septic tank went out and it took all my left-over settlement to replace it.”

Although there are a lot of sad cases of vet scamming, Missouri lawmakers may be able to help prevent some future problems in this area. Missouri HB 1490 has been introduced to create provisions relating to compensation for assisting with veteran’s benefits. To see the proposed bill in full, search for MO HB1490 at Some of the provisions are listed below.

“No person shall receive compensation for referring any individual to another person to advise or assist this individual with any veterans benefits matter…. A person seeking to receive compensation for advising or assisting any individual with any veterans benefits matter shall, before rendering any services, memorialize all terms regarding the individual’s payment of fees for services rendered in a written agreement, signed by both parties, that adheres to all criteria specified with 38 CFR 14.636….No person shall advise or assist for compensation any individual concerning any veterans benefits matter without clearly providing, at the outset of the business relationship, the following disclosure, both orally and in writing: This business is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Missouri Veterans Commission, or any other federally chartered veterans service organization. Other organizations, including, but not limited to, the Missouri Veterans Commission, your local veterans service agency, and other federally chartered veterans service organizations, may be able to provide you with this service free of charge. Products or services offered by this business are not necessarily endorsed by any of these organizations. You may qualify for other veterans benefits beyond the benefits for which you are receiving services here.”

VFW Past State Commander Kelb said that Missouri is the first state to recognize the problem and file a House Bill about scamming businesses who charge veterans outrageous fees to help them get their disability benefits. He said other states will notice and follow suit, and senators are being flooded by lawyers lobbying to keep the money they charge veterans.

“Congressman Mark Alford also wants to do something to help veterans with this problem and has a committee that has put something on the floor,” said VFW Past State Commander Kelb.