Florida Veterans Attorney Welcomes VA's Revised Policy on Declaring Veterans Dead | Law Firm Newswire

Florida Veterans Attorney Welcomes VA’s Revised Policy on Declaring Veterans Dead

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 23, 2016 - The government is changing its rules about confirming veteran deaths after acknowledging that 115 veterans were wrongly declared dead over the past year and a half. Their benefit payments were terminated even though they were still alive.

Under the new policy, the Department of Veterans Affairs will send a letter to the address of those veterans that officials think are deceased. A surviving family member will then have 30 days to confirm the death. The VA will only terminate benefit payments if they do not hear from the family or the veteran erroneously thought to be dead. The agency hopes such measures would prevent the loss of benefits for veterans who are alive.

“In many cases, veterans are dependent on the money from the VA. They may go considerable lengths of time without a benefits check due to an avoidable error on the agency’s part,” said David Magann, a Florida veterans attorney. “Although the change in VA policy is a simple one, it is much needed as it will help prevent confusion and errors in the future.”

The VA announced the policy change after receiving a letter about the problem from U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Florida in November. The agency sent a reply to Jolly on December 10. The VA admitted officials had suspended benefits to veterans between July 7, 2014, and April 1, 2015, after erroneously assuming they were dead.

The VA claimed its record of accuracy was 99.83 percent when suspending benefits for veterans believed to be dead. Although that means only around a dozen people each month are the victims of VA errors, Jolly said such mistakes can have a significant impact on the affected veterans.

According to a statement from VA spokesman Randal Noller, the agency is “updating its process to request further confirmation of the beneficiary’s death before it terminates payments . . . Although these types of errors are a small percentage, we sincerely regret the inconvenience caused by such errors.” The VA attributed the wrongly terminated benefits to human error and computer glitches. The department uses an automated system that matches with the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to verify benefits payments.

David W. Magann, P.A.
Main Office:
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175

Tampa Office:
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618

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