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#VAFail – Improper payments of burial benefits go to veterans who are still living

By Emilye Bell

#VAFail – Improper payments of burial benefits go to veterans who are still living

The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report last week finding that during a six-month period, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) improperly authorized 28% of its automated payments. These improper payments “included payments to spouses who were no on veterans’ records at the date of death or who were deceased, multiple payments, and payments to veterans who were still living.” Receiving your death benefits while being still very much alive must be a chilling experience.

The OIG estimates that in that six-month period VBA improper automated payments reach about $2.8 million. Further, if the proper controls and reviews are not implemented, OIG states that amount will reach $28 million within five years.

If you think receiving your own burial benefits check in the mail isn’t bad enough, it does get worse. Due to the improper automated payments, 68 living veterans were subject to their disability benefits being discontinued. Those benefits totaled almost $200,000 and as the OIG pointed out could have caused financial hardship.

VBA has some work to do in complying with the policies, procedures and review processes to ensure no more veterans lose access to their earned disability benefits, and make extra sure that no veterans receives news of their burial while they’re still alive.