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SSA seeks return of benefits from wounded vet four decades later

Published on December 13th, 2013

The unfortunate reality for the Social Security Administration is that it frequently makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. To illustrate, consider a recent story involving a wounded veteran who is now being called upon to reimburse the agency for disability benefits mistakenly sent to him over four decades ago.

A 61-year-old California man, we’ll call him Thomas, was seriously injured in the Vietnam War back in the early 1970s, suffering everything from femur and vertebrae fractures to bladder and pelvis injuries.

During his convalescence in 1972, the federal government began mailing Thomas the military disability checks to which he was rightfully entitled and continues to receive today. However, he was also mailed two benefits checks from the SSA, which he proceeded to cash.

Fearing that something was amiss, Thomas consulted with an attorney who informed him that he was ineligible for the payments and advised him to send the checks back to the SSA henceforth. He ended up heeding this advice and mailed the checks back for several months until the agency stopped sending them altogether.

Flash forward 41 years and Thomas recently received a letter from the Department of Defense informing him that he owes just shy of $500 for the mistaken checks, and that if he fails to pay this amount before Christmas, the money will be deducted from his monthly military disability pay.

As an illustration of the bureaucratic challenges awaiting Thomas’ bill dispute, he was instructed by the Department of Defense to contact the Treasury Department, which is handling collection efforts despite the fact that the SSA is responsible for working with people on the amount owed.

For his part, Thomas has indicated that it’s not about the bill, which he can afford to pay if necessary, but rather whether government agencies are making the same demand on young veterans or veterans in worse financial shape who were similarly confused about the mistaken receipt of disability benefits from the SSA.

“If they’re also doing this to younger vets, that’s wrong,” said Thomas, who still suffers from severe pain four decades later. “It’s as immoral as can be.”

Stay tuned for updates …

If you would like to learn more about securing much-needed SSD benefits, consider contacting an experienced and dedicated attorney who understands the bureaucracy of the SSA and who can help guide you through the complex process.

Source: The San Jose Mercury News, “Social Security bills disabled Hayward war vet over 41-year-old checks,” Chris De Benedetti, Nov. 23, 2013

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