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Surviving Spouse Goes From Owing to Owed

Photo of Santos Molina

In March 2023, a surviving spouse in Corpus Christi brought a VA Notification letter she had received advising of pension termination and possible debt to Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Claims Benefits Advisor and Navy veteran Santos “Mo” Molina.

He listened to her situation, set her mind at ease and began diligently researching her VA file and listing evidence needed to refute the debt and pension termination. The VA listed yearly information beginning from 2018 as what would become a significant debt to the surviving spouse.

Through his research and open communication with the VA Pension Management Center (PMC), Molina determined that the VA erroneously counted a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and life insurance as part of her yearly income. He requested written information from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) which proved that there was no SBP in place, nor was her husband eligible for retirement. He also confirmed that the life insurance was a one-time pay out.  For income documentation, the spouse’s yearly bank statements were gathered to account for the actual amount of Civil Service money received. Additionally, Molina processed and uploaded the required VA forms to correctly account for Medicare deductions dating back to 2018 and filled out the “Statement in support of Claim” identifying the VA error and listing  the applicable M21-1 (Adjudication Procedures Manual) paragraph applicable to the case.

Photo of Santos Molina

Throughout this process, Molina, pictured, communicated with the surviving spouse, reassuring her that everything would work out.

“Mo spent several weeks working this case in between a fully booked appointment schedule, summarized every piece of evidence and requested an audit of the file,” said Mike Jaeger, Texas Veterans Commission’s Claims Department Southwest District Manager and Army veteran.

In April 2023, his work came to fruition as it was determined the surviving spouse did not owe money to the VA. Further, in correction of this error, she was due money from the VA.

Get effective assistance with Claims at no cost, connect with a TVC CBA.

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