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American Veterans Benefits and Incarceration

Some 700 000 American Veterans are incarcerated in jails or prisons.  Many of them are there because of PTSD and substance abuse.  When a vet is found guilty of a crime and sentenced to a penal system, some of the benefits get adjusted.  However, according a Watchdog report found that more than $100 million has been overpaid by the VA since 2008,  because the agency failed to reduce American Veterans Benefits for incarcerated Vets.

VA Payments to Incarcerated American Veterans

Federal law states that The Department of Veterans Affairs is required to adjust payments to incarcerated veterans. But it turns out that in more than 50% of cases, the VA has neglected to properly reduce benefit payments to vets in federal penitentiaries, improperly paying millions in benefits, according to the department’s Office of Inspector General.

Nearly $60 million in over payments was made to federal inmates, and $44 million was made improperly to inmates of state and local penitentiaries. The department has been focused for years on certain types of benefits processing, according to a statement, including first-time claims for benefits that have long been scrutinized by lawmakers and the public because of lengthy backlogs and long wait times.

Inspectors said the VA didn’t prioritize processing what are referred to as “incarceration adjustments” because the department had focused the bulk of its efforts elsewhere.

American Veterans Benefits Adjustment Not a Priority

“In general, Veterans Benefits Administration did not place priority on processing incarceration adjustments because they did not consider these non-rating claims to be part of the disability claims backlog,” the inspector general said in the report, adding that there was a lapse of almost seven years during which the VA didn’t obtain incarceration data from the Bureau of Prisons.

American Veterans benefits is a sensitive topic.  Wasting money that could be spent on other veterans needs should be looked into.

In an official response, the VA said it would review data on federal incarcerations dating back to 2008 and try to recover improper payments and would focus more in the future on incarceration adjustments.  “The Veterans Benefits Administration agrees with findings and recommendations of the Office of Inspector General concerning the need to improve the current process for adjusting compensation and pension payments to Veterans incarcerated due to felony convictions,” said a VA statement.

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