Jump to content
  • 0

War Veteran Spouses Wrongly Denied Help


danang_1969

Question

WASHINGTON: Surviving spouses of war veterans have been wrongfully denied up to millions of dollars in government benefits over the past 12 years due to computer glitches that often resulted in money being seized from the elderly survivors' bank accounts.

The Veterans Affairs Department said Saturday it wasn't fully aware of the problem. It pledged to work quickly to give back the pension and disability checks — ranging from $100 to more than $2,500 — that hundreds of thousands of widows or widowers should have received during the month of their spouse's death.

"This problem must be fixed," said VA Secretary James Peake. The department indicated in an "action plan" provided to The Associated Press that up to millions of dollars in back payments could be given to the surviving spouses sometime after next February, once it can identify them.

To expedite matters, the VA said those who believe they were wrongfully denied payments can call its help line at 1-800-827-1000.

Congress passed a law in 1996 giving veterans' spouses the right to keep their partners' final month of benefits. It instructed the VA to make changes as needed to comply with the law, which took effect for spouses of veterans who died after Dec. 31, 1996.

But the VA never updated its automated computer systems, which send out checks and notification letters. As a result, widows or widowers were either denied the final month of payment or asked to send the checks back. In many cases, if the checks were already deposited or spent, the U.S. Treasury moved to seize the money directly from their accounts.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, confronted Peake about the problem in a letter last week after receiving a complaint from a widow. In response, Peake instructed the Veterans Benefits Administration to update its systems as quickly as possible to prevent future denials of benefits.

"This flawed practice has caused serious hardship for many widows," Akaka said Saturday. "Now that this problem has been brought to light, I trust that surviving spouses will receive the benefits they are due."

The VA has yet to identify the exact number of widows or widowers affected, but acknowledged Saturday it could be "sizable." Akaka's committee estimates that 50,000 surviving spouses each year since 1996 could be affected, based on VA numbers indicating more than 100,000 veterans die each year — some of whom may have been single or divorced — while receiving VA benefits.

Out of that 50,000, some spouses might have received the payments they were due if they called the VA at the time to inquire about their rights.

The disclosure comes as the VA is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI education benefits takes effect next August. Thousands of veterans currently also endure six-month waits for disability benefits, despite promises by Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to "fix the benefits bureaucracy" at the VA. Last week, he named Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff, to be the next VA secretary.

___

On the Net:

Veterans Affairs Department:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Answers 1
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters For This Question

Popular Days

Top Posters For This Question

1 answer to this question

Recommended Posts


Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



  • veteranscrisisline-badge-chat-1.gif

  • Advertisemnt

  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

    questions-001@3x.png

    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
    Continue Reading
     
  • Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:   

    tinnitus-005.pngptsd-005.pnglumbosacral-005.pngscars-005.pnglimitation-flexion-knee-005.pngdiabetes-005.pnglimitation-motion-ankle-005.pngparalysis-005.pngdegenerative-arthitis-spine-005.pngtbi-traumatic-brain-injury-005.png

  • Advertisemnt

  • VA Watchdog

  • Advertisemnt

  • Ads

  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

    employment 2.jpeg

    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

{terms] and Guidelines