HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A Marine veteran getting disability benefits decided to become a naval officer, so he told the Department of Veterans Affairs to stop his payments. They did, but not for long.
He’s now on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars even though he alerted authorities that he was being overpaid.
We’re calling him “Raymond” because he says this story could affect his security clearance, his reputation and his Navy career.
Raymond got disability payments as a Marine veteran for four years, after deployments to Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Then in 2010 he decided to become a naval officer and entered candidate school.
“Once I was granted my access to that program to finish college, my benefits stopped, and I notified the VA,” he said.
Even VA records show Raymond let them know of his change in status. But then two years later, for no apparent reason, his payments resumed in 2012.
“I called the VA and expressed my concern, that’s documented in their report. I was told that was a legitimate claim and I would continue receiving benefits, even though I notified them.”
Documents and screenshots show the VA knew he was active duty Navy while their payments continued for four years until 2016.
“I repeatedly tried to get it stopped, and they told me that it was OK.”
That’s when Raymond got a collection notice for $75,000, the sum of the payments over the four year period.
“I have until the end of this month to pay it in full, or set up a 12-month payment plan at approximately $6,000 a month. That’s my salary. We can’t live. We can’t pay our mortgage, we can’t pay our vehicle loans, we can’t do anything.”
Raymond says he has notified Sen.Tim Kaine’s office for help. A bill currently in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would address the problem of veterans held responsible for VA overpayments.
We’ll reach out to the VA and Sen. Kaine’s office to see how Raymond’s case can be resolved.