Long battle for mom’s military survivor benefits makes son suspicious


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — U.S. Army veteran Tom Gross, of Chesapeake, is helping his mother navigate the process of getting survivor benefits after her husband died.

However, he’s been getting the run-around for so long, he’s starting to get suspicious.

“This is either gross incompetence or it could be nefarious in nature,” Gross said in a Tuesday interview.

He’s disturbed about the delay with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I guess the frustration is there’s absolutely no one I can talk to in charge.”

His mother Peggy, 92, lives in an Ohio nursing home. Her late husband Ivan was in a tank battalion in World War II and Korea. Gross applied to help her get survivor benefits in September 2018, but the supporting documents got lost.

“I sent them the documents again, and when I called at the end of January they said ‘Yes, we got your documents.’ They also found the documents that were sent [earlier]. So they reopened the case,” he said.

At that point, Gross says the Department of Veterans Affairs informed him his mother’s application was complete and it was just a matter of coming to a decision.

“This decision went on and on and on and on. Nobody looked at it,” he said.

By April of this year — more than a year and a half after the initial filing for survivor benefits — Gross was told the documents were submitted too late and he would have to start over. On May 22, Gross found out that his mother’s claim was closed and denied.

“In essence, they’ve tripled down on either closing the claim or denying the claim,” he said.

Gross believes the Department of Veterans Affairs could be trying to outlast his mother’s life expectancy so that the benefits would never have to be paid.

“What they’re doing makes no common sense whatsoever,” he said.

10 On Your Side has forwarded his case to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington to see what can be done.

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