I walked outside and picked up the Citrus Chronicle this morning and became so outraged I want to spread my fury and demand investigations on this matter as well as other disabled folks including all disabled veterans that has experienced this kind of incompetence and just stupid way of handling such beauracratic BS. The Chronicle dated January 20th displayed an article written by Nancy Kennedy (staff writer) who reported the following and follow me below the jump because it is a doozey...
The article jumps out at you when you read Dead man alive and well. Declaration from VA results in loss of benefits. That is an eye catcher but the story is even more bizarre. Nancy Kennedy wrote that Richard Miller of Inverness, Florida, a disabled Vietnam Veteran went to his mailbox last week to receive a letter to his family from his car insurance company offering up condolescense regarding the vet's death. Mr. Miller thought it a fluke until the next day he receives notification from The Dept of Veterans Affairs informing him.. (the article did not say his family but him) that they were terminating his benefits of disability in the amount of 1,020 of which he fears homelessness without it. due to the notification of his death of November 7th ,2011. They also wanted their money back that had been paid to him prior to the notfication from social security of the live man's death. The VA wanted the money all the way back to November 1st which I find strange if he had died because they hold back a month and if he HAD died the 7th, they still would have owed that money for October. if you don't believe they hold back, then how do veterans receive a COLA in December and not receive it till January? How come the paper checks clearly state for the preceding month if not held back? My question is who gets the money till it is cleared up and we need oversight here !!!!! Citrus County Article
On with the story. He contacts under extreme stress, the VA that he is alive and not dead, only to be put on hold and given the run around. He then makes a trip to the social security dept in Ocala who then blames the VA for saying he was dead. The VA in turn blames the Social Secuirty Administration but no one is solving the problem.
He gets the Citrus County State Veterans Service to contact the VA who stated that this was not unusual at all...REALLY? How can any government agency just presume one is dead without proof.....LIKE A DEATH CERTIFICATE. CORONERS REPORT? How is this outrageous deed accomplished? This truly bears investigation from the Inspector General, Congressman from the 5th district and possibly General Shenski's office.
According to Citrus County State Service Officer Charles Fettes, this is very common but it all starts with the Social Security office. After a week of trying to convince agencies one is alive the bottom line is this disabled veteran still does not know if he will receive a check in February nor does he know if he has to reapply for his benefits again, which according to the paper is a very likely chance., and if he still will have to pay back monies from the time they claim he was dead.
There is so much ridiculous incompetence in this story I had to stop and reread and say paragraph after paragraph...This is nuts. According to the article who reported that CNN/Money stated that 2.8 million death are reported into the Social Security Master Death File. Did anyone know there was a Social Security Master Death File that containted social security numbers, birthdates, zipcodes, and addresses and of that number 14,000 are entered incorrectly !!!! Approximately 1 in 200 death are reported wrong. I was angry and so frustrated for not just this veteran who lives in my backyard but for any person dealing with a disability having to deal with this kind of BS. I understand mistakes. I don't understand the pass the buck, no accountability and stress a disabled person is subjected to.
There are a lot of things wrong in America. This does not have to be one of them.
Has the incompetency level of people working in some of these agencies reached an I don't care level to the point of not working with a real live person trying to prove they are a real live person.
I read this story to my husband and he said, his last wishes would be for me to drag his lifeless body to the VA upon his demise and lay him down on the entrance that said , For Those Who Borne the Battle". Then and only then would a corpse be recognized as a corpse. I reminded him dead was not the problem. Proving he wasn't dead seemed to be the problem.
I encourage everyone to pass this information to thier congressman and demand some accountability from these government agencies and listed below is two important numbers I think should be contacted regarding Mr. Miller.
Washington, DC Office
1517 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1002
Fax: (202) 226-6559
16224 Spring Hill Dr
Brooksville, FL 34604
Phone: (352) 799-8354
Fax: (352) 799-8776
This republican congressman of this veteran's district has 3 sons in uniform. I think he should be on top of this situation. I think we should inform him and see that this veteran does not need to reapply or pay anything back due to this mess. We should also ask someone to introduce legislation to oversee this too common of mistake and be a liason for life or death matters regarding benefits since congressional liasons are not getting the job done.
Dept of VA Inspector General
Headquarters (202) 461-4720
VA Headquaters Inspector General for Investigations
Contact General Schenski
via The White House