LOTS OF NEWS ABOUT VETS AND VA PROBLEMS
Here’s just a few examples:
VICE NEWS By Sara Jerving on Mar 27, 2017
Vets are receiving letters demanding they repay thousands of dollars of over-payments caused by VA mistakes and ineptitude…HOW IS THIS IN ANY WAY FAIR?
Every month since June 2009, Tad Steckler has received a disability benefits check from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Steckler retired from the Army at age 40 as a master sergeant with a Soldier’s Medal for heroism, and he’d built a new life on the foundation of his checks.
The money covered rent on a three-bedroom home in Nebraska that he shared with his wife and her two daughters and the lease on the family’s Nissan Leaf electric car. It was all part of the agreement he’d made with the government when he enlisted out of high school: In exchange for his service, he’d be taken care of.
Last June, Steckler’s wife, Robyn Loveland, opened what she thought was just another envelope from the VA. Except this one wasn’t a check — it was a bill for more than $10,000. A letter stated that Steckler had received thousands of dollars in disability compensation in error, and the VA was going to withhold future payment until the debt was paid.
A VICE News investigation has revealed that the VA sent nearly 187,000 of these overpayment notices last year. That represents just under 2 percent of those receiving benefits.
Other cases we’ve identified show overpayment claims similar in size to Steckler’s, with the potential to send veterans into crippling debt.
A former Army combat medic from Idaho who served two tours in Iraq was told he owed the VA $9,831.93.
A former Army sniper from Colorado who was shot in the head in the line of duty in Iraq got an overpayment notice for $11,119.41. These veterans were told their benefits would be withheld until they repaid the unexpected bills.
Finally doing something about the massive appeals backlog…Now if they would stop the 80% rejection rate that gets Vets into the appeals process and adds massively to the backlog in the first place…Just saying…
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation to reform the appeals process for veterans benefits. Because of redundancies and inefficiencies in the current process, most veterans wait years for a decision on their appeals.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 would replace the current appeals process – which today stands at over 450,000 appeals awaiting a decision – with one that is simple, fair, and transparent.
“The current appeals process for veterans benefits is a quagmire that no longer serves veterans and their families. Without reform, thousands of our nation’s veterans will continue to languish for years without receiving a fair and just consideration of their appeal, and denied access to the benefits they need and deserve,”
Blumenthal said. “Today, I am proud to introduce legislation that is the product of true collaboration between all stakeholders – with this kind of rare consensus, I am confident that we can send a clean appeals reform bill to the President’s desk this year.”
“Veterans are waiting in limbo too long for the benefits that they earned,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill was built through collaboration and gives veterans different options to best fit their needs. I am confident this reform will streamline the disability appeals process, protect veterans due process, and save taxpayers money.”
“A disabled veteran deserves more than a place on a waiting list or getting caught up in a VA backlog. But, too often, Maine veterans are paying the price for bureaucratic failures,” King said. “Veterans deserve a full, fair, and timely review of their appeals and this legislation will help accomplish that.”
Here’s a story about a news station intervening on behalf of an Army Vet… need to get more news media involved in out fight for deserved benefits…
BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – A Brandon Army veteran was denied V.A. benefits to which he was entitled. He asked for help from Target 8 and the battle he waged for nearly a year ended within two days.
Carver Taitt joined the U.S. Army in 1978.
He was a paratrooper and worked in chemical warfare.
Disabilities that he developed in the Army ended his military career in 1990. Following his retirement, he received a small V.A. disability check each month.
“I didn’t put that uniform on for any special credit. I put it on because I believe,” said Taitt.
At the V.A. last April, an employee advised Taitt, that since he was married, he was entitled to spousal benefits.
“I says ‘well that’s the first I’ve heard of it,’” he explained.
Not long after applying, someone identifying himself as a supervisor from the V.A. regional office in St. Petersburg told Taitt there was no record that he was married. Taitt explained he was married to his wife, Gemma, for more than 40 years.
“He says, ‘well I’m in charge and at this point, I make the decisions and I’m not going to give it to you,’” Taitt remembered.
The harsh treatment didn’t sit well.
“When someone tells me, in essence, that he doesn’t care about me as a soldier, it bothers me,” said Taitt.
V.A. paperwork from 2007 shows that not only was Taitt married, he also had a son. So, he filed paperwork with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. and waited.
Around Thanksgiving, Taitt watched a Target 8 report about another veteran, Keith Addis. Addis had tried unsuccessfully for nine years to convince the V.A. that he had been married to his wife for more than 30 years.
Addis forwarded his paperwork to Target 8. We forwarded it on to the V.A. The next day, a letter was sent out, approving his spousal benefits.
“You helped immensely,” he said.
“They did the same thing to him, telling him ‘basically, your wife doesn’t exist,’” Taitt observed. “So, I said, ‘you know, let me call Mr. Andrews.’”
Taitt forwarded his documentation to Target 8. We forwarded it to the V.A.
Two days later, the V.A. approved his spousal benefits.
“I said wow, this is really fast. 8 was On My Side.”
Not only that, the V.A. also provided dependent benefits for his son. All the benefits are retroactive to 2002.
“This is what results is all about, and I feel that we need more people like you guys out there to make a difference,” said Taitt.
Bruce Clisby from the V.A. regional office told us that he couldn’t comment on the case, because of privacy issues, but the review and assistance came from the St. Petersburg office.