Jolly to VA: Stop declaring people dead when they're not

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has earned its share of notoriety, what with the huge backlog and the not letting patients seek new treatment that actually works. 

Of late, their goofs have taken a rather dark turn.

The latest way the department has been flubbing? Calling people dead when they are in fact still very much alive. And since they are "dead," these people aren't able to collect VA benefits.

The latest case is that of Mary-Ann Claugh, who stopped receiving her monthly Dependency Indemnity Compensation, a benefit collected largely by widows of soldiers killed in action. The VA sent her a letter telling her she was not eligible because she was no longer with us.

The thing is, she's alive and well and living in Clearwater.

"It was quite shocking," Clough, 86, told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday.

She has had her benefit restored, but the error, not the first of its kind, was enough to make Congressman David Jolly fire off a letter to the agency asking it what gives.

"I am interested in learning of the circumstances that led to the classifying of Mrs. Claugh as deceased, so that we might work together to prevent such an occurrence from happening again in the future," Jolly wrote.

The last known case of this in Tampa Bay was that of 92-year-old Frances Evans of Wesley Chapel. An Army nurse in Europe during World War II, she received a notice last year expressing condolences about her demise (a surprise to Frances, who, like Clough, is very much alive) and informing the recipient that benefits paid since Evans's "death" would have to be reimbursed.

About The Author

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]