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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Military Benefits Mess Makes Headlines

From the way people reacted in response to the news that veterans in California were being asked to repay benefits that they had received in error, you might get the impression that our military is a highly efficient bureaucracy that rarely makes mistakes. Unfortunately, those of us that have experience navigating the military benefits system know that is far from true. Our military is excellent at many things, but accurate bookkeeping is not one of its strengths.

Why is everyone talking about military bonuses out in California?

It seems that there were a couple of things that went wrong out in California. First, veterans were given reenlistment bonuses that they were not actually eligible for. Some of the people knew they were getting more than they should have, but many people did not. Years went by and the military finally figured out there had been a screw-up, so they started clawing back payments that had been made in error. This is where the second mistake was made. Many veterans insisted that they money that they had been given should not have to be repaid, so they appealed the claw-backs. The appeals drug on for years, and a lot of claims are still pending, which exposed just how messed up the appeals process is. Now, the Pentagon has put a pause on the claw-backs until it works out the appeals process.

Meanwhile, reports surfaced that while all the improper bonus payments were being made, there were other people in California who had been promised bonuses but never received them.

The military messing up paperwork is nothing new.

The headlines about the mess out in California are a little bit frustrating. It is great that the veterans in the stories are getting help with the administrative headaches they have been dealing with, but at the same time it’s annoying that the public, lawmakers, and bureaucrats don’t understand that this is just one of many paperwork problems the military, and the VA in particular, need to sort out.

Our office regularly works with veterans in North Carolina and South Carolina who are not getting the benefits they believe they are entitled to. We help veterans get the health and education benefits they deserve, and work with the families of veterans to secure any and all survivor benefits they may be eligible for.

One of the things we specialize in is appealing claims that have been denied to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) in Washington, D.C. and even further if necessary. As the California mess has made everyone aware, the appeals process can be difficult and take a lot of time. Having an attorney to help push things along and double check paperwork before it gets submitted and then rejected for not having a box checked or an initial in the right place, is something many of our clients really appreciate.

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| Phone: 803-594-4453
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| Phone: 704-369-9977

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