Happy New Year NEWS! I just received a letter from the VA dated 4 Feb 2009. It says "we reviewed your letter of Oct 1, 2008 and your 2006 eligibility to continue to receive compensation at the 100 percent rate for Individual Unemployability. The evidence of record shows no adjustments are necessary."
Other than the boiler plate comments of contact us if you have any questions that is it.
As you can imagine, I am thrilled and thoroughly stress relieved. I wanted you to know that your assistance was immeasurable in my efforts to convince them that a reduction in income would really put me in a bind. Thanks from the bottom of my heart and Keep up the good work.
I've been writing often about the hazards of overpayment, debt and recoupment. Any time there is an error that results in the veteran receiving more money than is owed, it's likely that it will eventually be discovered and VA will issue you a "Notice of Proposal" to somehow take back what they allege is owed.
The veteran who wrote the above note to me was contacted in September 2008 and notified that because of money he earned working a few years earlier, his Individual Unemployability rating might be removed. Along with the change in his rating, the benefit he had been paid since the time of his employment would have to be repaid.
Although his employment was lucrative at the time, it was temporary and short term. He didn't report it as he's never received a VA Form 4140.
Within a few days of notice from VA the veteran contacted me. In about 3 days after, following my instructions, he had posted a certified letter to his VARO notifying them that he disagreed with their proposal. He requested that no actions to reduce his rating or to recoup his benefit occur until he had exhausted his appeal options. He requested a personal hearing. He requested a review by the Committee on Waivers and Compromises.
Then he explained that he had never received that VA Form 4140 and that he would have reported the income had the VA mailed him the form. He pointed out that he had reported the income to IRS and paid taxes so he wasn't attempting to hide it from anyone.
Finally, he pointed out the regulation that allows a veteran who is receiving IU benefits to work so long as the work doesn't exceed 12 continuous months or otherwise qualify as "gainful" employment. He worked once for a 6 month period, was unable to continue due to his service connected benefit and by the VA's own rules, that's acceptable with no penalty.
That one letter fixed the issue for him. The power of a single, simple, brief, well written and factual letter to VA is awesome to see. This veteran didn't make a series of panicked phone calls to the No-Help Line nor did he contact a VSO or take any other action but to write the VARO and wait patiently.
In recoupment actions as well as in all other dealings with your VA, a focused plan that you carry out to the letter is the way to ensure success. Play by their rules, play hard, remain calm...you'll reap positive benefits quicker than most do.