V.A. Cut off Benefits of 4,200 Veterans They Wrongly Claimed Were Dead
By Tamara Lush, Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida congressman says the Veterans Administration cut off the benefits of more 4,200 people nationwide after they were wrongly declared dead.
Rep. David Jolly says these people were "very much alive" and their benefits were resumed after the VA looked into their cases, which happened between 2011 and 2015.
The Florida Republican raised the issue with the VA in November on behalf of a group of veterans in the Tampa Bay area. He told The Associated Press early Wednesday that agency has since acknowledged mistakes in 4,200 cases in the previous five years, and that it has changed its protocols for confirming deaths.
"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," Jolly wrote in a statement.
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.
"It's a problem that should have been addressed years ago, as it has caused needless hardships for thousands of people who had their benefits terminated and their world turned upside down," said Jolly, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
To Learn More:
Veterans Waiting more than a Year for Benefits have Grown from 11,000 to 245,000 under Obama (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Social Security Has Paid Millions of Dollars to 1,760 Dead People Since 2008 (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Hidden, Lost, and Unopened Benefits Letters at the VA (by Aaron Wallechinsky, AllGov)
- Top Stories
- Unusual News
- Where is the Money Going?
- U.S. and the World
- Appointments and Resignations
- Latest News
- Thousands of At-Risk Afghan Translators Who Aided U.S. Military Must Rely on Trump for Visas for U.S. Sanctuary
- California Lawmakers to Enact Sweeping Laws to Resist Trump’s Mass Immigrant Deportation Threats
- Decades-Long Trend of Rising Life Expectancy in U.S. Undergoes Mysterious Reversal
- Fake U.S. Embassy Operated for 10 Years in Ghana
- Marshall Islands’ Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Gerald Zackios?