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Jerry’s Story

Written by Legal Aid WV


“I don’t know what I would have done if Kristin hadn’t helped me out. I’d probably still be spending hours on hold with a bunch of agencies trying to get their bureaucratic mistake fixed and get back the Marine pension I earned.”

Jerry is a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran who had been receiving his Marine pension benefits without incident for eight years. Though it was a modest stipend, Jerry depended on it to make ends meet. However, after a government data entry employee keyed in the wrong social security number for Jerry—one that happened to belong to a recently deceased veteran—his monthly benefits were suddenly suspended. Moreover, the Administration was seeking to collet nearly $4,000 they considered “overpayment” of benefits following his supposed death.

Jerry spent hours each day on the phone with various agencies seeking to resolve the problem. Despite his protestations that he was very much alive and could prove it, he was unable to resolve matters. That’s when he met with Kristin, a recent law school graduate and an attorney with Legal Aid of West Virginia’s Veteran’s Legal Assistance program. Multiple investigations with a number of different agencies were required to remove the debt, to have Jerry declared alive rather than deceased, and to finally have his $1,030 monthly pension benefit reinstated. After working with Kristin for several months, Jerry—who had gone nearly a year without his monthly veteran’s benefits—was finally declared to be alive and well according to the government. He was also declared free of any debt, and his monthly pension was reinstated, along with $25,000 in retroactive benefits.

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