Rep. David Jolly successfully pushes VA to update policy on declaring veterans dead
Times staff writer Hanna Marcus covered Rep. David Jolly's event today:
When Michael Rieker didn't get his check from the office of Veterans Affairs in November, he called to try to fix the issue.
Then he realized he had a bigger problem than a late check: The VA thought he was dead.
"I actually spent five minutes on the phone arguing with (the VA) that I was alive," Rieker said.
Rieker reached out to U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who'd been pressing the VA on this issue for about a year. And after consistent pressure from the Indian Shores Republican, the VA announced this week that its process for declaring veterans dead would change.
Instead of automatic termination of veterans' benefits, the VA will contact veterans or their families explaining that records show they're deceased.
Then, the VA will give them 30 days to respond before cutting off benefits — a measure that could have saved Rieker the disruption of his income.
"It's not just the notion that a veteran, or a spouse, has been declared deceased," Jolly said at a news conference in his Seminole office on Tuesday. "It's all the indications that follow once the computer declares a veteran has become deceased — the greatest implication of all, a cessation of benefits."