Applying for government benefits to pay for long term care is difficult, and often warrants assistance from an outside source. You may be approached by individuals who claim they can help you qualify for Medicaid to pay for long term nursing home care or to qualify for aid and attendance through the Office of Veteran Affairs. Federal and State law regulates who may legally help you apply for government benefits. The only individuals who can legally help you with Medicaid are licensed lawyers and the only individuals who can legally help you with VA benefits are attorneys and agents who are accredited to practice before the VA.
Someone who helps you qualify for Medicaid commits a class A misdemeanor if that person is not a licensed attorney (Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 12.001). A person commits a criminal offense if he or she represents, aids, or assists an applicant or recipient with a Medicaid application. A person also commits a criminal offense if he or she advertises, or solicits assistance directly from Medicaid and Health and Human Services on an applicant’s behalf.
The Office of Veteran Affairs also regulates who may assist applicants. By law, an individual must be accredited by the VA as an agent, attorney, or representative of a VA-recognized service organization to assist in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim for VA benefits. 38 U.S.C. §§ 5901-5902, 5904; 38 C.F.R. § 14.629.
When someone suggests that you might qualify for Medicaid for VA aid and attendance, ask for an elder law attorney or an attorney accredited to practice before the VA.