VA Computer Glitches SNAFU War Vets' Spouses Benes [Archive] - Glock Talk


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12-14-2008, 13:45

Computer snafus helped deny millions to war vets' spouses

by Hope Yen - Dec. 14, 2008 12:00 AM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Surviving spouses of war veterans have been wrongfully denied up to millions of dollars in government benefits over the past 12 years due to computer glitches that often resulted in money being seized from the elderly survivors' bank accounts.

The Veterans Affairs Department said Saturday that it wasn't fully aware of the problem. It pledged to work quickly to give back the pension and disability checks - ranging from $100 to more than $2,500 - that hundreds of thousands of widows or widowers should have received during the month of their spouse's death.

"This problem must be fixed," VA Secretary James Peake said. To expedite matters, the VA said those who believe they were wrongfully denied payments can call its help line at 1-800-827-1000.

Congress passed a law in 1996 giving veterans' spouses the right to keep their partners' final month of benefits. It instructed the VA to make changes as needed to comply with the law, which took effect for spouses of veterans who died after Dec. 31, 1996.

But the VA never updated its automated computer systems, which send out checks and notification letters. As a result, widows or widowers were either denied the final month of payment or asked to send the checks back. In many cases, if the checks were already deposited or spent, the U.S. Treasury moved to seize the money directly from their accounts.

Good fargin' grief........