October 29, 2013

Where the Money Goes


Some months ago I was informed that I was to recieve veterans disability benefits. This caused me some concern as I'm not disabled. Although it was hard to get hold of the proper people to resolve that, once I did it was resolved quickly and hopefully that money is now helping a disabled vet. 

Well, a bit over a week ago I received a check from the VA for a tad less than 900 dollars.

This was...unexpected. I was surprised to find that I was still eligible for any VA benefits. What's more I'm a part time student this semester so that seemed like an excessive amount.

Anyway, I called the VA and after some PEBKAC errors with the phone tree and a 27 minute wait I got an operator. After answering some questions I learned that I was indeed eligible for some educational benefits. I explained that I was a part-time student this semester. The operator confirmed this, told me what courses I was taking and that I should be receiving a check so everything was fine.  I pointed out that the amount she quoted was substantially less than the amount the check was written for. The operator said that this was probably back pay and not to worry about it.

Ummm...NO!

So...I ended up speaking to her supervisor. After some digging It was revealed that the check was not, in fact, vaguely rationalized "back pay" but rather educational benefits for the full course load I took during the summer semester.

This sounded much more in line with the amount the check was written out for and would have resolved the matter if I had, in fact, taken any classes during the summer.

I explained the discrepancy.
I was told that since they had received confirmation of of my enrollment that the check was indeed for the proper amount. I pointed out that it was improper due to the fact that I had not taken the classes. She then asked if I had in fact enrolled in the classes.

I said yes.

She then said that as I had just confirmed what was on the screen the matter was closed. I pointed out that had withdrawn from the classes whereupon I was asked 'WHY I would do that'? I explained that My father had a hernia operation and my mother had back to back gall bladder and foot surgeries at the beginning of the summer and that given my domestic responsibilities it seemed unwise to take the classes.

I ended up talking to her supervisor.

The supervisor implied that if I tore up the check another one would be reissued after a year*. She further explained that the only way to make the check be not officially mine was to go to the VA office at the school, and have them send confirmation of my withdrawal to the VA. At that point I would be mailed a letter containing a kit for the proper disposal of the letter (presumably a SASE).

So I hightailed it through rush hour traffic on a Friday, went to the info desk and talked to the VA rep. He was sympathetic but couldn't do anything right then. You see, in order to process this claim he needed an E-mail from me..which he would forward with the proper information. So I walked down the hall and found a workstation, logged onto my University E-mail account, sent him an E-mail explaining my worrisome windfall and why I'd withdrawn. I walked back down the hall and he verbally confirmed that he'd gotten it and Monday I received E-mail notification from the school that the mater had been resolved.

The matter is still not resolved.

I just received a terse letter from the VA (sans 'kit") informing me that I owed them nearly 900 dollars. There is no return address beyond the PO Box on the letter and I'm antsy about just sending the check out.

I hope to get this matter finally resolved this week.

*I'm uncertain on this particular point.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:18 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 That is one of the more frustrating, though well documented, problems with the big bureaucracies; if they make a mistake in your favor, even though the right thing is to point it out, they will make it as hard as possible to do so, and you might end up being worse off in the end.  

Posted by: David at Wed Oct 30 01:31:23 2013 (da+4f)

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