War Vet's widow fights the V-A

May 6, 2009 9:55:59 PM PDT
It is a story of a promise broken. Our nation has a pact with its war veterans to help those who are injured in battle.

But in the case of a widow of one disabled vet that pledge is being dishonored by the very agency whose job it is to uphold.

When a disabled veteran dies, the surviving spouse is eligible for his pension.

For several years, the widow of an injured Long Island World War Two vet depended on that pension to help pay for her medical care.

Now, Veterans Affairs has put a stop to the pension, but that's not where the story ends.

Army Sgt. Abraham Davidson served in some of the World War Two's bloodiest battles while stationed in the Philippines. For a shrapnel injury that left him partially disabled, he received a small pension until his death in 2001. His widow began receiving her husband's pension of $924 dollars a month which helped with her care.

"The expenses of caring for somebody who's so disabled are just astronomical. So this was a big help as far as off-setting those expenses," their son, Stanley Davidson, said.

Two years later, Veterans Affairs sent her son a letter saying they "have stopped pension benefits" to his mother. The V-A claimed she had failed to send an "eligibility verification report". Her son showed us that report, which details how thousands in monthly medical costs far exceed her $2-thousand dollar monthly income.

It's not the way to treat any veteran, let alone someone who gave up his health and who's wife is dependant upon this."

He soon received another letter from the V-A. The agency wanted all the pension money back declaring the widow "delinquent" on her "overpayment of benefits" of more than "$24,000."

HOFFER: "They're saying she's no longer eligible and not only that we want the money back that she's gotten."
DAVIDSON: "Yes sir. They have been garnishing her social security. They have been holding tax refunds."
HOFFER: Wait a second. They have been garnishing her social security? Money for an 89-year-old woman?
DAVIDSON: "Yes. Yes."

A social security deduction of $169-dollars a month means it will take Mrs. Davidson 12 years to pay back the disputed pension debt. She will be 101.

"That's the payback for fighting and supporting their country. You're not asking for anything you're not entitled to. All of this is not a gift. This was earned," Davidson said.

The veteran's son, who has waged a two year battle with Veterans Affairs, struggles to understand how this could happen.

HOFFER: "Veterans Affairs keeps saying give us more proof?"
DAVIDSON: "Give us more proof. We never received it. It's not good. It's not valid."
HOFFER: "More proof than this?"
DAVIDSON: "They've closed out the case many times without even notifying me. I would have given up, but I promised my mom and dad I would do what's right."

The V-A sent us an email late Wednesday saying that Mrs. Davidson's pension has been reinstated.

A spokesman says her debt will be cleared and she will be reimbursed for the money seized from her social security checks.