The Department of Veterans Affairs is making amends to an 89-year-old World War II vet whose monthly veteran benefit check was slashed from $300 to $6 to recoup an overpayment he never knew about.
The VA reduced Joseph Teson's benefits to almost nothing after being told his entitlement to benefits had changed and he was overpaid $3,090.
But after news outlets reported the story, the VA had a change of heart. The agency notified Teson in a letter that the debt was being forgiven and he was getting a refund of $744 -- the amount taken out of his benefit payment.
“I’m very glad of that,” Teson said last week to WNYT-TV, which broke the story in May. “Made my heart tick a little faster, you know? I says, ‘Thank, God.’ I says, ‘Wow.” I never expected it, you know.”
Teson, who lives in Watervliet, N.Y., and was 19 when he participated in the D-Day invasion, was notified of the overpayment in 2013. The VA said Teson’s benefit had changed, but never told him why or how the overpayment happened. WNYT said its inquiries to the VA were not returned.
The station said the vet’s congressman, Rep. Paul Tonko (D), saw the story and had his staff contact the VA to see what could be done about Teson’s situation.
The story also generated lots of support for Teson in the community. The Watervliet Fire Department started a fund drive for Teson and raised $4,000 -- which it matched, for a total of $8,000.