Dead vet must fight U.S. for changegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Friday, September 24, 1999
Dead vet must fight U.S. for change
By Larry Cheek Staff columnist For a dead man, Stanley Dahl seemed pretty lively. He was even laughing, which he said was better than screaming and yelling about the mess he was in and getting heartburn.
The first letter notifying Dahl of his death came in late July from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was cursorily a communication of condolence to his next of kin, but the real message was that his 30 percent disability checks would stop immediately.
On Aug. 2, Dahl, who lives in Fayetteville, responded with the following, entitled Report of Veterans Being Alive:
Please be advised that I am NOT deceased as stated in your 7/28/99 letter. I am very much alive and respectfully request that you resume payment of my monthly compensation checks and cancel any overpayments you have attributed to this account.
Next of kin contacted |
Dahl, who retired from the Army in 1970, also gets a military retirement check each month. In late August he got a letter addressed to Of Relatives, Stanley Dahl saying that We at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Cleveland Center are sincerely sorry to learn of the death of Stanley Dahl.
We would like to extend our sympathy to you. We realize that this is a difficult adjustment period and wish to offer our assistance. ...
Stanley Dahls retired pay was being sent directly to his account via the direct deposit system. This center will recover any retired pay sent after the date of death directly from the bank.
And so the Army did. Not only did the Army get what he had in the bank, it also collected the $1,500 he had in a constant credit line.
Meanwhile, the VA sent a letter acknowledging Dahls Im still alive plea by saying it had received your application for benefits. It is in our sincere desire to decide your case promptly. However, as we have a great number of claims, action on yours may be delayed.
Dahl also is a retired civil servant. In addition, he collects social security each month, plus a civil service annuity on his wife. He could envision a bureaucratic snowball rolling downhill, wiping out all his monthly checks.
So he called the defense department in Cleveland.
OK, someone told him, after asking numerous questions, well put it in the computer that youre not dead.
On Monday, Sept. 20, Dahl called back. His bank account had been cleaned out by the government. He was told there was no record of his earlier phone call and there was nothing in the computer about his being dead.
Were going to try and take care of it, and well call the bank, someone told him.
Taking political action |
Dahl called Rep. Mike McIntyre about his problem with the VA and Sen. Jesse Helms about his Army retirement checks.
Earlier this month he got a VA check for August and September. He put it in his bank account, and on Sept. 13 it was taken out by the Army.
The bank called this morning and said theyd loan me some money, Dahl said. But Id just have to pay it back, wouldnt I?
Dahl thinks his problem with the VA is straight now. Hes waiting to hear how Sen. Helms fares with the Army but is confident hell rattle their rucksacks. Meanwhile, he has $180 in his pocket.
The bank is sending a letter I can use to explain things to my creditors, he said. Ive got an electric bill, phone bills, a dentist bill and my mortgage. I think Im OK with the VA, but I havent gotten a letter saying Im alive.
Which is hardly too much to ask, is it?
-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), September 24, 1999
This has nothing to do with y2k, same thing happened to me a few years ago. You hear the same story among vet groups every now and then. I think it has more to do with human error (is there any worst kind?).
-- vet (email@example.com), September 25, 1999.
What kind of nut is this guy? If the computer says you're dead, you're dead. Who are you to argue? Computers (and their programming) are infallible. Everyone knows that. Get a life! :-)
-- A (A@AisA.com), September 25, 1999.