VA’s Cancellation of Benefits for Veterans Mistakenly Declared Dead Denounced
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 11, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has accidentally declared thousands of veterans dead and stopped their benefits over the past five years.
The issue was discussed in correspondence between the VA and U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R., Fla.) when he found that the same clerical error occurred 4,200 times between 2011 and 2015. The congressman received complaints from several constituents regarding cases of incorrect death notices of still-living veterans whose benefits payments were cancelled. The VA asserted the errors comprise under 1 percent of total benefits cancellations, according to recent departmental data.
“Even though the number of veterans affected by such errors may be small, each mistake has serious, long-term consequences that can be devastating for individuals relying on VA benefits,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “It is simply unacceptable that service members who have served their country have their hard-earned benefits wrongfully terminated because they are erroneously declared dead.”
The agency attributed the errors to employee mistakes and the failure of their computers to cross-check data properly. The VA system automatically verifies veterans’ names using Social Security Administration (SSA) records. When the SSA incorrectly classified veterans as deceased, their benefits were terminated immediately as per VA policy. As a result, thousands of living veterans suddenly found that their monthly benefits checks stopped appearing.
Keeping track of veteran deaths has posed a challenge. The VA is simultaneously struggling to solve the problem of benefits checks sent in error to deceased veterans. The agency claimed it is working to implement a new policy instituted in 2015.
Under the new system, a notice is sent to the beneficiary believed to have died. The VA must then wait 30 days for a response before declaring the veteran dead and cancelling benefits. Rep. Jolly asked the department to conduct an annual survey to determine whether their fixes have been effective at reducing errors.
“If the issue of mistaken deaths and wrongful benefits termination persists, the VA must come up with a different approach,” said Fausone. “It’s a problem that should have been addressed years ago. Thousands of veterans experience needless difficulty when their benefits checks stop coming in the mail.”Learn more at http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC 41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101 Northville, MI 48168 Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800