Whistleblowers Claim Numerous Veterans have been Cheated Out of Benefits
Each year, the Veterans Benefits Administration is responsible for distributing more than $95 billion worth of benefits to veterans. These include disability money and pensions to veterans and spouses of veterans, along with death benefits. However, a new investigation from CBS News reveals that there has been tremendous mismanagement of benefits claims, and many veterans across the country failed to get what they deserved. Some of these veterans even died before they were ever able to receive their entitled benefits from the VA.
These problems are being revealed less than a year after the Phoenix VA scandal, which awoke the nation to the numerous problems associated with wait times at VA hospitals.
Exposing a major problem
Five different whistleblowers at the Veterans Benefits office in Oakland, California revealed this new problem, sharing with investigators that there were more than 13,000 informal benefits claims filed between 1996 and 2009 that were ignored until 2012. Informal claims are letters that veterans send saying that they would like to apply for benefits. The VA is obligated by law to respond to these letters with an application for the veteran to fill out.
In one particular incident that highlights the problem, the VA sent Dorris Stafford a letter in July 2014 thanking her husband Wayne (a veteran of the Army) for his disability claim. However, he filed that claim in 2004 and died in a 2008 accident. Dorris is now reported to live in a home that does not have electricity.
When one of the whistleblowers raised concerns about the number of veterans who died waiting for a response from the VA, she was taken off the project. These are nationwide problems — lost claims and poor record keeping have already been proven to plague the VA in other areas, so it is not particularly surprising that the agency could owe benefits to thousands of veterans across the country.
If you believe the VA owes you veterans benefits and you have not heard a response, contact the attorneys of Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, P.C. Please call 866-866-VETS or contact us online to learn more. We serve veterans nationwide.