VA wants widow of WWII survivor to pay back benefits - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

VA wants widow of WWII survivor to pay back benefits

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The widow of a Pearl Harbor survivor is not only fighting for her life but fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After receiving benefits since 2011, now she says the VA wants more than $20,000 back.

A 92-year-old woman who was granted benefits for being the widow of a World War II veteran, could now lose everything.

In a letter, the VA says they overpaid her and are now asking for most of that money back; money she doesn't have.

John Edson served in both the Army and the Navy, giving his life to the government until he passed away in 1997 at the age of 82.

"He was at the battle of Pearl Harbor and is a Pearl Harbor survivor. Subsequent to that assignment, he was assigned ship duty which sailed for Guadalcanal, another famous area of battle for World War II," said Mark Edson, son of Florence and John Edson.

His widow, Florence Edson, was a life-long educator and published author.

"These are people that are the epitomy of the greatest generation. They lived a life of sacrifice and service to their country," said Edson.

Due to health problems, she entered into an assisted living facility in 2011. Florence was made aware she could apply for benefits because of her husband's World War II service. Around August of that year she began to receive a monthly check of $837. This past December, Florence's son, Mark, was asked to send some documents to the VA.

"So I sent a letter documenting her expenditures for a certain period of time they were looking for. Shortly after that letter, I received a letter from the VA dated January 27th. They reiterated how much she's receiving, and said to use this correspondence as evidence of her income for housing entitlements and other purposes," said Edson.

That's when the communication between Florence and the VA gets confusing. A few days later she receives another letter, with the same date, this time stating there was an overpayment of benefits, besides her monthly check being terminated.

"Shortly there after we got another letter, in which no further explanation, just Mrs. Edson now owes $23,252," said Edson.

Her son filed a formal notice of dispute with the VA, as well as asking for a waiver.

Mark says part of the problem is that they never receive any acknowledgment from the agency.

"The idea that somehow she got these monies in such a way that she should now have to pay them back is ridiculous. Much less the idea that as she lies in a nursing home unable to pay for the care she is currently receiving, somehow they are going to garnish her income to pay this debt," said Edson.

At that time, he decided to involve the offices of U.S. Senator John Cornyn. We're told they are still awaiting a response.

Florence then receives yet another letter from the VA stressing again the amount that is owed.

Her son says the money wanted back is almost everything she has ever received.

"This is just a convergence of bureaucratic incompetence and stubbornness that has resulted in a 92, soon to be 93-year-old woman who has lived a productive life but is now in more need of these kind of benefits than anyone could ever be," said Edson.

This comes at a time when her health continues to deteriorate.

FOX 7 has contacted the VA and submitted a consent form so they can release information regarding the case. They said they will be getting back to us. The Edson family is hoping this can be handled soon.

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