02 Sep Navy Vet Forced to Prove to the VA He Is Alive
A North Carolina Navy veteran was forced into proving he was alive after the VA determined he was dead. The veteran’s wife received a letter in July conveying the administration’s condolences on her husband’s passing, as well as demanding that she pay back nearly $1,600 in benefits improperly paid out after her husband’s death. The problem? The veteran was very much alive. This did not seem to matter to Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), who froze the veteran’s bank accounts and demanded he produce a notarized letter indicating that he was alive. Even the bank at which the veteran had accounts for 20 years demanded that he produce a notarized letter before removing the hold on his accounts.
What Causes These Mistakes and How to Prevent Them From Happening
This case is, unfortunately, not unique. There have been a number of recipients of VA benefits who have received letters from the VA and DFAS passing along condolences to their families that they had died, providing a check for burial benefits, and demanding that any benefits paid out after the veteran’s death be paid back in full. Some suggest that because several agencies freely share with one another whenever a person “dies” in one agency’s database, the other agencies do not verify these reports, and these types of mistakes are able to occur.
Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any method to guarantee you will not be the victim of this type of mistake. Even if you maintain constant contact with the VA or DFAS, another federal agency may mistakenly report you as dead in their own database and then share this information with VA and DFAS. When this occurs (if the North Carolina veteran’s case is any example) though, you must act quickly to correct the mistake before VA and DFAS move to freeze your assets.
Can a VA Disability Attorney Help Me?
While an attorney familiar with the VA disability process can assist you in obtaining benefits and appealing adverse decisions made by the VA, using his or her services does not guarantee you will not experience this type of adverse decision. Instead, your attorneys can assist you in quickly resolving these mishaps and having your benefits reinstated. In particular, your attorney can help you:
- Notify the VA and DFAS of the situation
- Determine if any other federal agencies providing benefits (such as the Social Security Administration) were notified of your “death” so that they can be contacted
- Help prevent and/or reverse adverse actions taken by these agencies such as freezing of bank accounts
- Have any benefits mistakenly taken away from you or stopped returned to you
Klok Law Firm is committed to helping veterans and their families obtain disability benefits they have earned from the VA. We are knowledgeable concerning the VA’s disability determination process and know how to help our clients when unexpected things happen that affect payment of these benefits. Contact us for assistance with your VA benefits, regardless of whether you have been receiving benefits for years and have just now experienced a problem or whether you are attempting to receive benefits for the first time and have been denied. Call our office at (843) 216-8860 or contact us online and learn how we can assist you.