Living Veterans Classified as Dead by VA

 In Military, Veterans

In the world of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs,  you can be denied benefits because you’re dead when you’re actually alive. Turns out, the VA classified 4,200 veterans as dead between 2011 and 2015. So their benefits were cut. Their benefits were restored only “after they looked into it.”

Perhaps everyone who works for the VA needs to recite the quote on this plague every hour on the hour all day long.

Irresponsible mistakes

Florida Rep David Jolly said that he raised the issue on behalf of a group of Tampa veterans whose benefits were cut. Only then did the VA look into it and acknowledge their mistakes. At around 70 veterans impacted per month, it amounted to 4,200 people mistakenly listed as deceased.

“We simply cannot have men and women who have sacrificed for this country see their rightful benefits wrongfully terminated because the VA mistakenly declares them dead.” Rep David Jolly

Military Times reported that in 2015 alone, 1,025 veterans had their benefits cut. It took weeks or months to get the issue corrected. Rep Jolly has demanded that the VA come up with a method of tracking.

Tightening the protocols

According to Military.com,

Danny Pummill, the acting undersecretary for benefits at the VA, acknowledged mistakenly declaring the 4,200 veterans dead in a May 6 letter to Jolly. The agency’s computer systems don’t track the causes of each error, but Pummill wrote that they could have resulted from incorrect data provided by another agency, human error or computer issues.

The VA tightened its protocols for confirming deaths in December. Now, when officials think a veteran is dead, the department will send a letter to his or her address and request confirmation of the death from a surviving family member, according to a Dec. 10 letter from the VA to Jolly’s office. If the VA doesn’t hear from the family — or from a veteran erroneously believed dead — only then will the department terminate payments, that letter said.

The VA also verifies each beneficiary’s entitlement through an automated match with the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.

Playing with the lives of US military veterans

So. We have a VA Secretary that thinks wait times are inconsequential and much like waiting in line at Disneyland. But Disneyland goes the extra mile for their customers, doing everything in their power to make their “wait times” fun and exciting. Not the VA. They even cut benefits for the living.

When the Independent Journal asked a Disney Spokesperson why he thought the VA Secretary would compare the two, he responded,

“I’m not sure. This company was founded by veterans. Roy Disney was an officer in the U.S. Navy and Walt drove an ambulance in France assisting service members directly after WWI.”

A Florida Representative had to confront the VA with its mistakes before they did anything. We can only hope there will be no more.

“If the VA’s new policy is indeed working, this problem should be eliminated. If the problem persists, then Congress will demand further action.” Rep David Jolly

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