Reporting the Death of A Beneficiary
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Posted by: Suzanne Gerstner
The Importance of Death Notification to Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense After a Surviving Spouse Dies.
By law your next of kin should immediately report your death to Officials at the VA (and DOD if it applies), so that your DIC payments are stopped immediately. It is disheartening that time and time again we read the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General (VA OIG) Report and see instances where surviving children (adults) fail to report this, retain the payments illegally, are eventually caught, and imprisoned.
Please advise your adult children and next of kin of this reporting requirement. If you have a will, you may want to include a statement of this requirement.
The VA Contact phone number is 1-800-827-1000, or by completing VA form 21-0820a. The DOD contact phone number is 888-332-7411
In one the most recent cases of the VA OIG Press Release sent out highlights the punishment for this offense. “The maximum term of imprisonment for theft of government funds is 10 years and/or a fine of $250,000. Restitution to the government is also mandatory” (source: http://www.justice.gov/usao/moe/news/2014/july/briley_victoria.html).
Two additional cases in the June 2014 Report (VA OIG) also serve to highlight this:
Daughter of Deceased Widow Beneficiary Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds. The daughter of a deceased widow beneficiary pled guilty to theft of Government funds. An OIG investigation disclosed that the defendant fraudulently stole VA benefits that were direct deposited after her mother’s death in March 1993. The loss to VA is $271,402.
Son of Deceased VA Beneficiary Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds. The son of a deceased VA beneficiary pled guilty to theft of Government funds. An OIG investigation revealed that the defendant stole VA benefits that were direct deposited into a joint account after his mother’s death in May 2007. The loss to VA is $83,472.