OTR Interviews

Vet fights to prove to VA they're dead wrong about his death

Veterans Affairs mistakenly classified Joe Morris as dead and cut off his benefits. Now, he's fighting to get the mistake corrected and his government checks restored


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 19, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Corporal Joe Morris joins us. Good evening, sir.

JOSEPH MORRIS, RETIRED US MARINE: Good evening, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So you're alive?

MORRIS: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, how did you find out that the V.A. had declared you dead?

MORRIS: April 1st came and went. I never received my check that I normally get at the first of every month. So, I decided to call on the 14th. I called on the 14th, talked to one of the V.A. reps and the rep wanted me to set up direct deposit and said the check had been lost in the mail. So, I set up direct deposit into my banking account. So, I would no longer get checks and they couldn't get lost. A week passed and my mother got a condolence letter in the mail saying that I had passed away and that I was dead. I told her I wasn't. I'm still here. I haven't gone anywhere. And that's whenever things got really strange for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So, what happened next? I mean, you told the V.A. you weren't dead. So, what happened? How did the Social Security Administration get into this?

MORRIS: About the beginning of May, me and my wife were trying to purchase a house. We're looking for a house. And they started to run my credit report so I can use the V.A. loan. And that's when the credit report started come back saying I was dead. And the V.A. had already declared me dead, April 1st. So, what I was wondering is why they would let me set up direct deposit on the 14th if they had me classified dead on the first.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, you have now gotten them to undeclared you dead?

MORRIS: I haven't had any documentation yet, Greta. I'm waiting on that now.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So, but what did they tell you that you had to do? I mean, to prove that you were alive? What are these steps that you have to go through?

MORRIS: I went down to the V.A., to the regional office here in Houston. And I talked to a man down there. He brought me in the back. Had me fill out a statement saying that I was alive and he plugged something into the computer and said you're good to go. You'll be alive again and everything will go back to normal in 10 days. The 10 days came and went. We applied for some loans. And they came back that I was still dead. The gentleman at the V.A. never took any of my I.D. he never took my passport that I brought with me. He just allowed me to walk in, fill out a -- some paperwork and declared me alive again.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So -- I mean, did you ever get the checks? I mean, when you went to the V.A. Did you ever get that April 1st check that they owe you?

MORRIS: No, ma'am. I never got the April check. I have received the May and June though.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So, at least -- have you asked, where's my April check? Or are they going to give that you one?

MORRIS: They said they had to do an investigation before they could release the check.

VAN SUSTEREN: What, to make sure that you're not dead?

MORRIS: To make sure that no one's cashed the check, I suppose.

VAN SUSTEREN: Corporal, good luck. You know, I just don't know what to say. You're obviously alive. And, you know, I wish you the best of luck.

MORRIS: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I hope that you are the only one who's been falsely declared dead. But I guess, you know, whatever. Right?

MORRIS: I appreciate it, Greta. I hope I'm the only one also. I hope this doesn't happen to anyone else. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I hope the Social Security Administration, if they're watching, they can fix this too as well. Thank you, sir.

MORRIS: Thank you, ma'am. Thank you.