published Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Veterans benefits focus of seminar

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IF YOU GO

• What: Veterans benefits seminar

• When: 3 p.m. today

• Where: Mocha Restaurant and Music Lounge, 3116 Brainerd Road

• Admission: Free

Local attorneys are hosting a seminar today help more veterans and their spouses understand the benefits available to them.

The attorneys also will discuss proposed legal changes that may make veteran benefits harder to get.

"We're passionate about setting the record straight," said Sally Brewer, an attorney with a focus on elder law and Medicaid/veterans benefits.

Brewer and certified elder-law attorney Dana Perry will host the seminar. Both work for the Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel law firm.

Lawmakers have proposed changes that will create a "look-back period" into a veteran's financial records for the three years before he or she files for benefits, Brewer said. Under the law, veterans cannot have transferred any of their assets in that timeframe. If it's discovered that they have transferred their assets for less than fair market value, they could forfeit their benefits, according to news reports.

The goal is to stop wealthier veterans who may try to scam the system, she said.

Cynthia Coleman, a former Naval aviation structural mechanic, said it's wrong to make veterans wait to receive benefits they have earned.

"Some veterans have waited a year to get benefits. A lot of times they die before they can receive their benefits," she said. "It's not fair."

Perry said the attorneys see at least one veteran or widow every month who hasn't claimed available benefits because he or she didn't know about them. That could add up to about $12,000 a year, Perry said.

Some elderly veterans don't know they can apply for different types of monetary benefits, such as payments for veterans who served during wartime or were injured in service, Brewer said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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