VA wants to reduce my father's pension becasue his Soc Sec went up this year by $5. What???

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SickofVA, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. SickofVA

    SickofVA Newbie

    I just received a strange letter from the VA. They are claiming that because my father's monthly social security check went up by $5 this year (2017, because of a tiny COLA), the VA is going to cut his pension by the same amount. First, why did it take all year for them to tell me this? Why do they care about a measly $5. My father has end stage dementia, needs 24 hour care that is costing $4000/month. Why are they trying to negate the tiny SS COLA, and are they going to do it again in 2018 when the COLA is 2% and his Medicare Part B cost will most likely go up to negate the COLA? They want me to send in his 2017 Soc Sec statement but I am not sure why since they already have this information. Has anyone else has this happen and how did you handle it?
     
    Kaylin likes this.
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    I understand your anger and frustration but sometimes the VA can do things like this and unfortunately I do not think there is much you can do. If the VA wants to get what money back they think they are owed due to your father's income increasing (even if it is just $5) then they will do all they can to get it back. It sucks, no doubt about it. I have not personally experienced this situation but I have read of similar situations here on the forums before.
     
  3. davidbilly

    davidbilly Newbie

    Yeah, that sums up the whole picture, I even sometimes feel like they have this automated program which receives the data about all this stuff, input and calculates the pension, print out the letter and hands it over to be delivered. I mean everything is totally done as it would be done by a computer fed by instructions.
     
  4. SickofVA

    SickofVA Newbie

    So they are basically stealing any Social Security COLA that my father (or anyone else) gets? This year it will all get eaten up by the increase in Medicare, so are they going to take that too? The VA has been absolutely the most horrible organization (that's not even the correct term) I have ever had to deal with in my life, and I am almost 65 years old. It took over a year to get his well earned and needed pension and even then it only happened when I got my Senator's office involved. It is hardly worth the pittance he gets, but all his other assets have been used up paying for his Alzheimer's care.
     
    Kaylin likes this.
  5. toxdoc49

    toxdoc49 Jr. Member

    I think I may have a similar situation and glad you posted this. My MIL received a letter from the VA that increased her monthly benefit due to COLA. Ok that seems good. She is in assisted care. But I also got a letter stating that the VA benefits information in my records is 'expected to be matched' with federal and state agencies (that is, the ones that provide income to her) to verify the accuracy of the information in the VA records. Meaning, the small pension she gets from her deceased husband and her SS benefits. Now, I see that her SS benefits will go up slightly in 2018. Based on this discussion, should I expect the same from VA? I guess it would not be a surprise if it happens.
    Actually, I think I am responsible for informing VA of any changes to income for my MIL. Not sure who to tell at VA and how it may affect her benefits. sounds like any increase would decrease her A&A benefit?
     
    Kaylin likes this.
  6. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    Hello @toxdoc49 ! One thing to note is the monthly A&A benefit amounts are also increasing the same percentage as SS for 2018. So that may be taken into account as well. As far as any adjustments to your MIL's income, yes you do have to inform the VA of these changes. The best thing to do is to send a Statement in Support of Claim form 21-4138 stating what you are needing to update. You can let them know the increases to your mother's income - if you want to send in any supporting documents that show the increase in income then those are always encouraged as well. Like bank statements, forms and letters from social security, etc.
     
  7. Deb K

    Deb K Newbie

    Hi, WHEN should we be notifying the VA? Can I wait until my mom's taxes are done, which would be late February/early March 2018? The reason I ask is that she also has a Charles Schwab account which will have a (negligible) amount of interest to report for 2017 because I had to just about devastate the account waiting for everything to fall into place. I seem to remember seeing something in the initial award letter that only asked for an update of any interest income. Since the VA does the crosswalk with the IRS, is it necessary to report the Social Security and my dad's federal pension since they will already have access to that information?
     
  8. SickofVA

    SickofVA Newbie

    My father's A&A for January 2018 was the same amount as for 2017. No increase, at least not yet. Never received a letter from VA stating that there would be an increase, although I did receive one from Soc Sec.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  9. toxdoc49

    toxdoc49 Jr. Member

    Hi Kaylin! I know it has been a while. Thank you so much for your response. I'm just worried whether there will be a downward adjustment of her A&A benefit, and if that adjustment is significant. I understand the VA request, I just don't understand what the consequences will be. Only adjustment is her deceased husband's federal pension and any SS benefit increase. Hoping that any increase reported is offset by an equivalent amount of decrease from VA and nothing more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018 at 8:40 AM
  10. toxdoc49

    toxdoc49 Jr. Member

    good question. I too wonder WHEN we need to report changes.
     
  11. ARNGUS

    ARNGUS Newbie

    According to the DVA RE: VA Pension (A&A) from the Janesville RO (Philadelphia PMC) dated 01 DEC 2017:

    How Soon Should You Send It?

    Please send us any additional information or evidence within 60 days of the date of this letter, or we may process your claim based only on what we already have.

    Per M21-1, Part I, Chapter 2, Section E:

    “Your payments will continue at the present rate for 60 days following the date of this notice so that you may, if you wish, submit evidence to show that the proposed action should not be taken. You may submit evidence in person, through the mail or through your accredited representative.

    If you wait more than 60 days to submit evidence, we will carefully consider whatever you submit, but the adjustment of benefits described above will already have gone into effect and your adjusted benefits will continue while we review the additional evidence.

    Be sure to submit your evidence, with your full name and VA file number, to the address at the top of this letter.”

    ------------

    Just to let everybody know, I don't work for the VA. This is what my mother (surviving spouse with A&A) received in the mail.

    I had to submit supporting documentation stating that her medical expenses increased in 2018. They were about to reduce it by $6/month when, in actuality, it would have been more like $20/month due to the COLA. Otherwise, they would have hit her with an overpayment.

    Granted, as of 16 JAN 2018, they're still processing her claim, but they cannot reduce her benefits.

    Your best bet is to take the proposed action (reduction, depending on the case) until you can figure out what taxes are owed, and if the income exceeds the allotted amount in accordance with the Veteran/Spouse VA rate tables.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018 at 1:58 AM

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