Mistakes prompt VA to change policy on declaring veterans dead

SEMINOLE, Fla. (AP) — A congressman says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is changing its procedures to avoid wrongly declaring veterans deceased and cutting off their benefits.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly told The Associated Press on Tuesday that in response to a letter he sent in November, the VA said it erroneously stopped benefits to 115 people between July 7, 2014, and April 1, 2015, because the department had wrongly declared them dead.

In a letter dated Dec. 10, the VA told Jolly’s office that from now on, the agency will send a letter to the veteran’s address and request confirmation of the veteran’s death from a surviving family member. If the VA doesn’t hear from the family — or from a veteran erroneously declared dead — only then will the department terminate payments.

Jolly’s office is scheduled to hold a news conference on the issue Tuesday morning in Seminole.

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