I am an 80% disabled veteran. I recently (voluntarily) updated my dependent status to include a new wife and her (now our) two young children.
Here is the backstory to the problem (I'll try to keep it as short as possible). I was previously married for several years and my wife was listed on my compensation and I was being paid appropriately. I got divorced, and remarried one month later (long story, please don't judge or ask). When I remarried, I knew that I was now being underpaid, but I was doing OK financially and knew the VA would back-pay me for the underpayment when I finally got around to changing my dependency status (a little over three years later (time flies)).
To my horror, instead of receiving the expected nice, fat, reimbursement check, I received a letter from the VA saying that I owe THEM money (over $5000.00) in over-payment from the time of my divorce until now!
The VA says "I needed to submit the dependency change within a year of when it happened". I didn't know this, nobody ever told me this, I was under the assumption that waiting to change the status was as good as putting money in the bank. The way I see it, the VA is compulsory in this mistake for not telling me / or teaching me. How can they expect us to follow rules we are unaware of, and that they don't inform us about?
I've contacted the VA and they have told me to "submit a Waiver Request for the repayment", and then request a Higher- Level Review.
The first part of my dilemma is to submit the "Waiver Request", I am required to fill out a "Financial Status Report Form". I do not see how letting the VA know how much my wife and I make (we do OK) could possibly have a positive impact on changing the decision and hopefully receiving the back-pay that I believe that I am entitled. They may look at it and say "they make good money, they can afford to repay the whole thing"!
I should't be judged for this error based on me and my wife's current income.
I'm asking for money that I should have been receiving all along, and the VA is not only denying that request, they are taking money away from me!
Anybody with any common sense can look at this and see that what is happening here is unethical.
I'm actually ashamed of the VA right now.
Somebody, please tell me what to do.