Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hold the Cheese. I'm Only Interested in the Whine...

***Edited to Add: Several of you have suggested I contact our congressional representative so I thought I'd better add this: When I said "we have to start a huge, time-consuming, irritating, aggravating and heartburn causing campaign to stop the VA from ruining our financial lives", that's what I meant - that I would be sending a package containing all the pertinent facts to our congressperson. I'm sure we'll obtain relief that way, but man...have you ever had to do something like that? It's effective, but very time consuming to get every little bit of evidence together, write a letter detailing the problems, compile the information in a clear and concise way and then sit around and wait for a reply. Then, usually, that reply entails the need for more information, which you then have to get together and send. Then comes another reply asking for even more stuff. And on and on it goes. I've availed myself of the services of our congressional representatives numerous times in the past (in fact, I'm sure the FBI has a file somewhere with my name on it and the subtitle "Professional Bitcher"). I know I'll feel better once we've sent the initial package off to congress. It's getting that first one together that I find so tedious, time-consuming and aggravating. (See? I am a professional bitcher - I'm even griping about the help I'm going to ask for. lol).
What is "Luck" exactly? Something you're born with? Something you earn? Something you can touch, smell, feel or hear? I have no idea. What I do know is, our "luck" ain't good. Not good at all. Remember the other day when I mentioned something about a $25,000 problem with the VA? Listen to this...then tell me what kind of luck you think we're having.
As a special Happy New Year to Randey and me, the VA sent us a notice saying that they feel sure they've overpaid Randey by $25,444.23 (this overpayment being a result of Randey's switch from the Reserves to Active Duty from October 2001 until May of 2003) and that we can pay the debt in full by check, money order, VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover or even Western Union. Sweet, huh? And just to prove what a reasonable entity they are, if we are unable to make payment in full, they will work with us to establish a monthly payment schedule to clear the debt "within a reasonable time frame". Extra sweet. There's just a few problems with the whole thing, however. A) Randey's VA disability entitlement during the time in question was approximately $88 a month. Now I'm no math genius, true. But even I can tell that 21 months @ $88 per doesn't come anywhere near $25K. B) Randey never received any money for his disability until this year because all entitlements for the last 15 years went towards a repayment of the separation pay he received when he went from active duty to reserve status back in 1992. C) The money he has received (he's only been paid since April of this year) in no way, shape or form, totals anywhere near $25K. So, in other words, the VA is requesting a "repayment" of more money than they've ever paid him and they want repayment for a period of time when his total entitlement was less than $2,000.00. Either they have one hell of an interest rate working for them, or there's a problem with their accounting section. I'm going with the problem in the accounting section myself. I say that because Randey has actually requested a full audit of his VA benefits compensation account 3 times in the last 2 years and has yet to receive one. Two of his requests were made prior to any actual payment from the VA. What does all this actually mean to us? It means we have to start a huge, time-consuming, irritating, aggravating and heartburn causing campaign to stop the VA from ruining our financial lives. Randey called the VA "debt office" the other day and was given a fax number we could use to send some documentation to. By documentation, I mean a freakin' financial statement, detailing our assets and debts, so that the VA can decide whether or not to "waive" this debt. Not that we want the debt waived. We don't. We want it expunged because it doesn't actually exist! But sending the financial statement is the only way we can get the VA to put a freeze on the collection activity until this mess can be straightened out. The woman that Randey spoke to said she didn't see where he owed that debt, but then again, there were so many agencies involved that it was just too hard to tell...she saw activity from the Department of Defense (his current employer), his local VA office, his regional VA office, etc., etc., etc. She also said it looked like too many offices were involved and that none of them were talking. Great. ****Oh my gosh. This is too funny. As I'm writing this, Jake brought me the mail and in there is a letter from the VA. It's a form letter that starts "As you transition from the Military, VHA invites you to contact the local VA medical facility" blah, blah, blah. As you transition from the Military???? Say what?? Geez. Maybe the VA knows something that we don't and maybe we'd better check it out. Quickly. Randey is, at this very minute, in Seattle in military status. Sure hope he gets paid for it. Don't think I'm not seriously questioning that, either. After all, the VA seems to think he's out of the military all of the sudden. Do yourselves a favor and place both hands over your ears so I don't damage your hearing with the glass-shattering scream I'm fixing to let loose!!!!!
Does stuff like this ever happen to anyone else? I only ask because this isn't the first time we've been faced with something this irritating and downright unfair! The most recent was back in 2005 when we sold our house in Florida and moved here to Texas. Seems that the title company that handled the closing on the sale of our house in Florida didn't pay our house off. Yeah, you read that right. They didn't pay off the loan on our house. We had no idea until a month later when we received a late notice from what we thought was our former mortgage holder. We called the mortgage holder to tell them we no longer owned the house and that the funds should have been transferred at the time of sale. They didn't care. They flat out said that they did not care who, how or why the error had occurred - their only concern was when payment was made. And since payment for the previous month had not been made, they reported to the credit bureaus that we were 30 days past due on our mortgage. It took months and several letters to the Department of This and the Department of That within the state of Florida to get our credit reports corrected. And you want to know what the real kick in the pants was? The title company that caused all of it in the first place actually asked us to pay them for the additional interest it cost their company for paying our mortgage 30+ days later than they were supposed to. Can you believe that? And yeah. We declined their request. Loudly. So I ask you things like this happen to anyone else? Or are Randey and I just living under some sort of Four-Leaf-Cloverless Cloud? You know, I have to laugh about it a little bit or I think I'll go insane. Personally, I'd just as soon get an attorney to handle the VA, but Randey...well, Randey's an optimist and actually believes he'll be able to get the VA to see that they're wrong. God loves an optimist, eh? And, apparently, so do I.