In an effort to clean up the backlog of Compensation and Pension requests, it appears that the VA is also discovering that they may have been overpaying some veterans.  Now that these accounting errors have been identified, the VA is starting to come after veterans to be reimbursed for these over payments.

While it is unclear exactly how much the VA has overpaid its veterans, according to a VICE News report, approximately 187,000 letters have been sent out to veterans stating that they will be withholding payments until they have recuperated the amount overpaid.

In just one case, the VA sent an over payment notice to Army veteran, Tad Speckler of Nebraska stating they would be withholding future disability compensation payments until over over payments totaling over $10,000 have been reimbursed.

“You really can’t support your family when they are taking your whole check away.”
Tad Speckler, US Army, Retired

This large over payment appears to be due to a miscommunication between Speckler and the Veterans Affairs office concerning a change in his marital status.  More specifically, Speckler notified the Veterans Affairs of his divorce in order to remove his former spouse from his Tricare benefits and made the assumption that this would also trigger an adjustment on his compensation benefits.  As it turns out, that was not the case and now Speckler is on the hook for over payments dating back to 2010.

In a recent article by NPR, it was determined that the agency overpaid 2,200 incarcerated vets more than $24 million in 2015, but this is likely only a small fraction of the money the VA is trying to collect.

According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, disability compensation payments are reduced if a Veteran is convicted of a felony and imprisoned for more than 60 days.

The size of the reduction is based on factors such as the veterans rating percentage prior to being convicted and veteran’s marital status.  The disability compensation can be reinstated after the veterans release but amount of the compensation can change based on a number of factors.  There are also a number of exceptions that could further alter payment amounts and frequency.

With all of these different accounting variables, it easy to understand how a veteran may misunderstand the amount of payment he/she should be receiving; leading to inaccurate payments.

Many of the veterans that have been notified of over payment and now seeking help from legal counsel and other advocacy groups to understand and combat this issue.  Most often, this results in working with the Veterans Affairs to establish a more reasonable repayment plan, allowing the veteran to make smaller monthly payments as opposed to withholding all future disbursements.

Here are some key steps to ensure you don’t find yourself in this situation

Pay close attention to all payments received by the Veterans Administration.

The first time you notice any unexpected change payment, contact the Veterans Benefits Administration right way.  Be proactive in seeking clarification for those changes and make sure you fully understand why the change was enacted.

Immediately notify the Veterans Benefit Administration of any changes in marital status or incarceration.

Your Compensation and Pension payments are often times based on your marital status and any dependents you have.  As outlined above, incarceration can also impact your payments.  Don’t wait, call as soon as possible.

Familiarize yourself with eBenefits

On eBenefits, you can keep track of things such as payment history, disability rating and appeals, dependent status, and may other VA related items that could impact your benefits.  Keeping a watchful eye out for any changes here could help you catch any changes before they have a large financial impact.

Keep all correspondence and documentation you have with the VA

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to dispute payment changes, you will likely need to provide proof or historical references.  The more documentation you maintain, the easier it will be to work out any misunderstandings in your favor.

Make an effort to understand the process behind disability compensation and pension

The key to placing yourself in the best position possible is to understand how the process works.  With an agency as complex as the Veterans Affairs, this can be a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are many Veterans Service organizations that are available to help you understand why things are the way they are.  Find one you like and beginning building a relationship with them.  You never know when you’ll need to call on them to help you in a time of need.

Have you received an over payment notice?  Contact us and tell us your story.