CONCORD, NH –Attorney General Joseph A. Foster announces that the State has entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance with Charles Balanoff, doing business as ElderCare Advantage, of Groveland, Mass., to resolve allegations that ElderCare Advantage overcharged clients who came to them for assistance in applying for federal Aid and Attendance benefits through the Veterans’ Administration (VA).
ElderCare Advantage accepted fees from at least 76 veterans who sought assistance in applying for Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits. The benefits assist veterans with the cost of a nursing home, assisted living or home care. ElderCare Advantage charged clients between $250 and $750 for those services, which, by law, could not include completing and filing the application with the VA.
ElderCare Advantage had no documentation regarding the amount of time spent or the nature of work done in each case to justify the fee charged. ElderCare Advantage was also cited for misrepresenting on its website that they provided financial planning and legal services.
Mr. Balanof, who is licensed by the New Hampshire Insurance Department, is neither a financial planner nor a lawyer. Under the Assurance of Discontinuance, ElderCare Advantage has already made changes to its website and agrees to not make further material misrepresentations about the services it provides.
The company further agrees that it cannot charge veterans for the preparation or submission of the (A&A) application to the VA. For other services related to qualifying and applying for these benefits, the company has agreed not to charge more than $200. It must inform all prospective clients that these services might be available from the VA or other veterans’ affiliated organization at no cost. Further, if – after an initial consultation, ElderCare Advantage determines that the applicant is not eligible for these benefits, ElderCare Advantage shall not be permitted to charge any fee.
ElderCare Advantage must maintain records of the amount of time spent on each client’s case relative to an application for A&A benefits, which will be subject to review by the Attorney General. As part of the settlement, ElderCare Advantage will reimburse the State $2,500 for its investigative costs.
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