Nightmare bureaucracy for man with veterans disability issues

A man who fought in the Vietnam War has been thrown into a terrible position regarding the benefits he was given from the government. He started out getting his VA pension, but then he was involved in a motorcycle accident - caused by a drunk driver. His head-first flight through the car's window gave him brain damage that caused him to lose his job.

After becoming homeless, he tried to get Social Security Disability payments, was turned down and then won the case when he got a lawyer. The checks began arriving, but the VA checks didn't stop.

Knowing he was not supposed to get both, the man went to the VA office and told them about it, but they told him it didn't matter. They eventually asked him to call an office in Minnesota, where he says the person who answered just hung up before they were finished. He mailed a few of the VA checks back, and then they finally stopped showing up.

However, years later, the government came calling. They said he'd been doing this for a year, not just a few months, and that he owed them over $15,000 to pay the money back. They also gave him fines of about $5,000. Even though he tried to do what was right at the beginning and was blown off, the government paid more attention when the officials wanted their money back.

As this case shows, situations involving veterans disability issues can be quite complex and confusing. It is important for all veterans to know just what rights they have and what they need to do to make sure that things go smoothly.

Source: The Boston Globe, "For disabled Vietnam War vet, VA heartache" Kevin Cullen, Nov. 09, 2014

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