Davenport man struggles to convince VA he's not dead - WFLA News Channel 8

Davenport man struggles to convince VA he's not dead

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By Shannon Behnken

A disabled veteran from Polk County says the Department of Veterans Affairs mistakenly reported him as deceased, cut his benefits and then demanded his family repay the benefits.

James Hanna - clearly alive - has been trying to get the government to fix the error since October.

Hanna, of Davenport, was told by a VA employee: "We have a problem here. Our records show you are deceased."

Hanna was shocked that no one from the VA had called his home to verify information about a death.

"They don't call the funeral home," he said. "They don't ask for any documentation. They just go in and shut everything down."

The VA hasn't been able to fix their error. Even after Hanna insisted he was alive, his wife received letters stating benefits were being terminated and she needed to return some of his benefits.

The VA error was also forwarded to the Social Security Administration.

"They were getting ready to do away with my Social Security number," Hanna said.

It wasn't known what prompted the VA's computer system to list Hanna as dead. Hanna, who served in the Persian Gulf War, said the agency chalked it up to "human error."

Officials at the St. Petersburg VA office confirmed the mistake but couldn't explain how it happened.

The VA agreed to send Hanna a letter stating that the agency made a mistake, acknowledging he is not deceased.

The VA also promised to send documentation to the Social Security Administration so Hanna's benefits would be restored.

"The VA works diligently to serve all veterans, and we regret the inconvenience and frustration this caused Mr. Hanna and his family," the letter stated.

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