Health

VA Tells Living Veterans They're Dead, Cuts Off Their Benefits

| by Michael Allen
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs LogoU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Logo

The Department of Veterans Affairs notified six veterans who live in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area that they are dead and cut off their benefits.

Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida, who represents residents in the area, told the Associated Press that he has dealt with five of these cases, while another congressman near the area has handled one.

"It's a very serious matter," Jolly said. "How many cases are there nationwide?"

Jolly sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Nov. 4 that stated, "[I]f this is caused by human error, there is clearly an inadequate system of checks and balances in place. If not human error, the current system is flawed," notes the Washington Examiner.

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Jolly got a letter from Allison Hickey, who used to be the VA's top benefits official, in April that read, "Because VA's computer systems do not track the source of information, the Veterans Benefits Administration is unable to provide data regarding the frequency with which SSA information causes incorrect termination of VA benefits."

A VA spokesperson released a statement on Nov. 5:

We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused by such errors and work to restore benefits as quickly as possible after any such error is brought to our attention.

VA receives information from multiple sources.

Although we believe the erroneous notifications represent a very small number of beneficiaries in comparison to the millions of transactions completed each year in our administration of benefits, to reduce the chance of inaccurate input, procedures are being amended to strengthen verification of the identity of the Veteran or family member when processing "notice of death" transactions.

However, the VA did not say how the "procedures" would be "amended."

Sources: AP via FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner / Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr, WikiCommons