Don't have a specific question at this point so consider this just a calm "venting" after my mistreatment by the Phoenix, Az VA since 12/24/09. Just for the info of anyone who cares about the treatment our military men and women can expect from the VA and the US Government.
I will seriously condense in the interest of your time but would be most happy to support any of my statements honestly and with haste. I have accepted this mistreatment, paid the VA in full, and trying now to get on with my life.
On 12/24/09, I received a letter from the VA indicating that they had a problem with my wife's name on their records. This was my fault since I "honestly" had forgotten over the years to notify them specifically about changes in my marital status from 1986 thru the present. However, I have "never" lied on any communication to them. This letter indicated that I might be charged back as much as $17,000+ for this honest mistake.
From the moment of receipt of that letter to this day, I have never been allowed the opportunity to directly address the individual handling the possible charges against me to give my side of the matter although I could not have made more effort to communicate, cooperate, and plead to them. During this process (from 12/24/09 to 09/01/10), I contacted the main VA website, Senator Jon Kyle, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and President Obama and received absolutely no consideration or cooperation from any of them.
Bottom line is that on 09/01/10, the VA took their final collection from my disability pay to complete their total judgement against me of $8,580. A total judgement that considering the fact that the majority of these monies were taken from my retirement pay for years plus an income tax factor, the fair judgement should have been in the neighborhood of $500-$600.
As a part of this judgement, the VA "intentionally" took the dependent's share of my disability for 1993 to about 2002 even though they had evidence of my existing marriage that commenced in March 1993.
I had absolutely "NO" Due Process and a "supposed" appeal submitted by the Phoenix Regional office was quickly denied. The Director of the Phoenix Office, Sandra Flint lied to me more than once in writing about the concern that never existed.
I know this sounds like sour grapes but what little I have given you is fact. I could not respect more our veterans and our existing military but I cannot summon any further belief in the same things that brought tears to my eyes at times during my 20+ years of military service.
I am very uncertain as to how much, if any pride I have in being a Veteran of our military service or this country!!!
Here is the problem. You don't want to hear this but hey, you wrote to me and I'm responding.
You were overpaid. Your "honest mistake" (I'm assuming, you didn't elaborate) was that you did not notify VA that you divorced and you continued to collect your dependent allowance.
Over the years that added up to a lot of money.
Whether or not this was an "honest mistake" doesn't matter. You have a duty to keep track of such things in your life. I've divorced and remarried and as forgetful as I am, I managed to tell VA and IRS and others of my status.
In any case...you were notified of what is called "overpayment" in VA language. The notice probably came in the mail. Once this gets going VA will determine that the "overpayment" has become a "debt".
If you will find that original notice and read it carefully, you'll find that there are instructions that are very clear in there. It usually says something like "What you should do if you disagree with us."
That's called an appeal. There are very specific steps that you must comply with to get consideration of wiping out the debt.
The steps are usually that you first must write a letter to the regional office and tell them you disagree with their idea that there is a debt.
Then you tell them why you disagree. Give them your thoughts in writing as to why there is no debt.
At that time you then ask VA to allow the Committee on Waivers and Compromises to consider your problems. You will complete a detailed financial form and submit that. If you tell them that there is no debt and that even if there were, repayment would create a hardship on you, they will consider dropping the debt.
Of course, you must have a good reason. "I forgot" may not be a good enough reason. To be honest, I wouldn't buy it.
In your note to me you make no mention of having followed the rules of how to deal with this thing.
You tell me that rather than following the instructions you wrote to people like Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and President Obama.
Did you really think that either one of those guys reads their email and mail every day and that they have time to get involved with your problem on a personal level? Why would you believe such a thing? There are millions of veterans who have millions of issues and to write to the POTUS about yours is a serious waste of your time.
I suggest that you gather up all that paper that VA sent you and read it carefully. It's way late in the game but if you follow the rules and do as the instructions tell you, you may turn this thing around and even get some money back.
I don't advise that you tell VA that you made an "honest mistake". Craft your story to make it seem as if you tried to do the right thing but failed because of other problems.
(As a footnote to this veterans letter to me: I hear similar complaints to this one often, “I have never been allowed the opportunity to directly address the individual handling the possible charges against me to give my side of the matter although I could not have made more effort to communicate, cooperate, and plead to them.”
Nothing could be further away from the facts of how VA handles such things.
In every similar case where I’m able to follow up, it is apparent that the veteran decided to circumvent the process that VA insists on and to handle the problem with a telephone call to some hopefully sympathetic individual in the Regional Office.
Any time a veteran attempts to travel outside the prescribed process, they will risk the claim being adjudicated without their input.
VA is usually very good about including the required notices of how to appeal any decision. In the cases of overpayments, the creation of debt and subsequent recoupment of the debt, veterans have any number of opportunities to present their case in a variety of ways.
The first notice is the “Notice of Proposal of Adverse Action” or a similar verbiage. At this stage the veteran doesn’t need to appeal as there is no decision to appeal. They may now begin to exercise their right to engage VA in a problem solving communication to determine just how to settle the proposed action.
Personal hearings, appeals to the Committee on Waivers and Compromises and even appeals to DRO and BVA may follow.
Ignoring the instructions and working away from the process is usually a guarantee that the veteran will not receive a favorable decision.
Once recoupment has started, the task of reversing the decisions made earlier becomes more difficult. Preventing any adverse action is always a simpler task than reversing it.)