VA Fiduciary Program

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VA's Fiduciary Program was established to protect Veterans and other beneficiaries who, due to injury, disease, or due to age, are unable to manage their financial affairs. VA will only determine an individual to be unable to manage his or her financial affairs after receipt of medical documentation or if a court of competent jurisdiction has already made the determination.

Upon determining a beneficiary is unable to manage his or her financial affairs, VA will appoint a fiduciary. The fiduciary, normally chosen by the beneficiary, must undergo an investigation of their suitability to serve. This investigation includes a criminal background check, review of credit report, personal interview, and recommendations of character references. Only after a complete investigation is a fiduciary appointed to manage a beneficiaries VA benefits. The fiduciary is responsible to the beneficiary and oversees financial management of VA benefit payments. Generally, family members or friends serve as fiduciaries for beneficiaries; however, when friends and family are not able to serve, VA looks for qualified individuals or organizations to serve as a fiduciary.

Beneficiary FAQ

Fiduciary FAQ

Beneficiary FAQ

What is the Fiduciary Program?

The purpose of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Fiduciary Program is to protect Veterans and beneficiaries who are unable to manage their VA benefits through the appointment and oversight of a fiduciary.

If you have been determined unable to manage your VA benefits, the VA will conduct a field examination to appoint a fiduciary to assist you.

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The VA Field Examination

A VA field examination will be scheduled for the purpose of appointing a fiduciary to assist you in managing your VA benefits. During the field examination, please have the following information available for review by the field examiner:

  • Photo identification.
  • The source and amount of all monthly bills, recurring expenses (annual, bi-annual, quarterly, etc.), and income.
  • A list of all assets, to include bank accounts, owned property, stocks, bonds, life insurance, burial plans, etc.
  • A list of all current medications.
  • Name, phone number, and address of your primary care doctor.
  • Name, phone number, and address of your next of kin.

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Selection Process

During the selection process, the VA will first seek to qualify the individual you desire to serve as your fiduciary.

The fiduciary selection is based on an assessment of the qualifications of the proposed fiduciary. When seeking a fiduciary the following individuals may be considered:

  • A spouse or family member
  • Court-appointed fiduciaries
  • Another interested party, or
  • A professional fiduciary

An assessment of the qualifications of a proposed fiduciary includes, but is not limited to:

  • The willingness to serve and abide by all agreements
  • An interview with a VA representative
  • Credit report review
  • An inquiry into the criminal background, and
  • Interviews with character witnesse

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What Are My Rights?

The determination that you are unable to manage your VA benefits does not affect your non-VA finances, or your right to vote or contract.

You have the right to appeal VA's decision finding that you are unable to manage your VA benefits. You also have the right to appeal VA's selection of the fiduciary. If you disagree with the VA on either of these matters you may:

  • appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) by telling us you disagree with our decision and want the Board to review it, or
  • give us evidence we do not already have that may lead us to change our decision.

For more information on filing an appeal, please see the sections titled, "What is an Appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals?" and "How Can I Appeal the Decision?"

You may also request to have your ability to manage your VA benefits be re-evaluated, or to have a new fiduciary appointed, at any time. If you wish a re-evaluation, please submit your request in writing with any supporting medical evidence to the Regional Office of jurisdiction.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act prohibits you from purchasing, possessing, receiving or transporting a firearm or ammunition if you have “been adjudicated as a mental defective or been committed to a mental institution.” In compliance with this act, VA reports the names of incompetent beneficiaries to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which then adds the names to a database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Gun dealers must check NICS for the name of a potential buyer before selling him/her a firearm. You may be fined and/or imprisoned if you knowingly violate this law. You may apply to VA for relief of firearms prohibitions imposed by the law by submitting your request to the VA. The VA will determine whether such relief is warranted.

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What is an Appeal to the Board of Veterans' Appeals?

An appeal is your formal request that the Board review the evidence in your VA records and review the law that applies to your appeal. The Board can either agree with our decision or change it. The Board can also send your case back to us for more processing before the Board makes its decision.

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How can I Appeal the Decision? How do I start my appeal?

To begin your appeal, write us a letter telling us you disagree with our decision and wish to appeal. This letter is called your "Notice of Disagreement." Send your Notice of Disagreement to the address to the fiduciary hub of jurisdiction. You may also submit any additional evidence in support of your appeal.

What happens after VA receives my Notice of Disagreement?

We will review your case and consider any additional evidence you provide. If we change our decision, we will notify you in writing. If we make no change in our decision, we will send you a Statement of the Case. A Statement of the Case describes the facts, laws, regulations, and reasons we used to make our decision. We will also send you a VA Form 9, "Appeal to Board of Veterans' Appeals," with the Statement of the Case. You must complete this VA Form 9 and return it to us if you want to continue your appeal.

How long do I have to start my appeal?

You have one year from the date of the notification letter regarding the selection of your fiduciary to submit a Notice of Disagreement. Your letter saying that you disagree with our decision and wish to appeal must be postmarked or received by us within one year from the date of this letter.

What happens if I do not start my appeal on time?

If you do not start your appeal on time, our decision will become final.

Can I have a hearing with the Board?

Yes. If you decide to appeal, the Board will give you a hearing if you request one. The VA Form 9 we will send you with the Statement of the Case has complete information about the kinds of hearings the Board offers and provides check boxes for requesting a Board hearing. The Board does not require you to have a hearing. It is your choice.

Where can I find out more about appeals to the Board?

You can find a booklet called "How Do I Appeal" on the Internet at: Appeal Booklet 

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Fiduciary FAQ

How to Apply

To become a fiduciary for a family member or friend, submit a request with the beneficiary‘s name and VA file number, and your name and contact information to the VA regional office nearest you.

To become a professional fiduciary, submit your resume with cover letter to the following e-mail address: VA_Fiduciary@va.gov. Include your name, the name of your organization (if applicable), mailing address, and e-mail address with your request.

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Selection Process

The fiduciary selection is based on an assessment of the qualifications of the proposed fiduciary. When seeking a fiduciary the following individuals may be considered:

  • A spouse or family member
  • Court-appointed fiduciaries
  • Another interested party, or
  • A professional fiduciary

An assessment of the qualifications of a proposed fiduciary includes, but is not limited to:

  • The willingness to serve and abide by all agreements
  • An interview with a VA representative
  • Credit report review
  • An inquiry into the criminal background, and
  • Interviews with character witnesses

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Responsibilities

Any individual appointed as a VA fiduciary is responsible for managing the beneficiary‘s VA income and ensuring the beneficiary‘s just debts are paid. Additional, responsibilities of the fiduciary include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Utilizing the funds for the daily needs (e.g., food, clothing, housing, medical expenses, and personal items) of the beneficiary and his/her recognized dependents.
  2. Never borrowing, loaning, or gifting funds belonging to the beneficiary.
  3. Reporting any of the following changes to the Fiduciary Activity immediately:

    1. Change in address or phone number of the beneficiary or fiduciary
    2. Change in income or dependents
    3. Incarceration of the beneficiary
    4. Hospitalization of the beneficiary in a VA or state facility, and
    5. Death of the beneficiary or the beneficiary’s dependents
  4. Establishing a properly titled bank account as follows: (Beneficiary’s Name), by (Fiduciary’s Name, Federal Fiduciary).
  5. Never commingling the beneficiary‘s funds with those of another.
  6. Never withdrawing cash from the beneficiary’s account by counter check or ATM withdrawal.
  7. Obtaining prior approval for any nonrecurring expense exceeding $1,000.00.
  8. Timely submitting periodic accountings when required.
  9. Keeping accurate, complete records and receipts, regardless of any requirement to submit periodic accountings.
  10. Conserving excess funds in a federally or state insured interest bearing account or United States savings bonds.
  11. Registering saving bonds to reflect proper ownership and the existence of the fiduciary relationship, as follows: (Beneficiary‘s Name), (Social Security No.), under custodianship by designation of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  12. Reporting any event that affects the beneficiary‘s payment or entitlement to benefits and promptly returning any payment that the beneficiary is not due.
  13. Notifying VA of any changes or circumstances that would affect your performance as a payee or your decision to continue to serve as a payee (e.g., you sell or transfer your business).
  14. Returning any funds owned by the beneficiary to VA if you stop serving as the fiduciary.
  15. Notifying the VA if the beneficiary‘s condition improves to a point where you believe he or she no longer needs a fiduciary.
  16. Protecting the beneficiary‘s funds from the claims of creditors since the beneficiary‘s funds are protected by law.

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