The Department of Veterans Affairs has told Navy veteran Joseph Teson, who lives in the small town of Watervliet near Albany, N.Y., that it overpaid him $3,090. To recoup its money, the VA has cut Teson's benefits to $6 a month from his usual $300, WNYT reported.
Teson, 89, served in World War II and took part in D-Day aboard a landing craft that delivered troops, weapons, and ammunition to Omaha and Utah beaches under enemy fire.
In a letter sent by the Veterans Administration, Teson was informed that the $3,090 overpayment was because his "entitlement to compensation and pension benefits had changed." The June 9, 2013, notice went on: "Since you are currently receiving VA benefits, we plan to withhold those benefits until the amount you were overpaid is recouped."
"What can I do? They're bigger than me, so I've got to go along with them," Teson told WYNT.
Teson said he didn't realize there was any extra money in his $300 monthly payment. He said he contributed about a third of it to veterans groups.
Teson's daughter Tami called the toll-free number on the letter, but VA staff could not explain how or why the overpayment occurred.
Michael Teson said his father deserved to be treated better. "They're giving him $6 per month. He can't live on that," WNYT News quoted him as saying.
The veteran and his wife, Rose, scrape by on a pension, Social Security and with the help of his children, but he has had to start selling his coin collection.
VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz said via email, "We are presently looking into the specifics of Mr. Teson's case and will be reaching out to him to clarify the details of his changes in benefits."
In his post-military life, Teson worked at least two jobs and raised seven children, according to WNYT. His great-grandson, Nicholas, is now serving in the Navy.
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