More than two years after applying for disability benefits, a South Bend veteran still hasn’t seen a penny from the VA.
James Clay served in Germany for four years during World War II. His time as a combat veteran resulted in hearing problems.
In March 2010, Clay learned he qualified for benefits from the VA because of his hearing loss. So, he applied for disability and anxiously waited.
More than two years later, Clay got a letter back on May 18, 2012 saying he’d been approved for 100 percent disability, with payments owed from the time he applied in 2010.
The letter stated the money would arrive within 15 days, but it never came.
“It’s like a nightmare,” Clay said. “First they tell you they’ve got the money, then they don’t.”
Clay’s daughters say the VA tells them his back pay was wired to a JP Morgan Chase Bank in New York – a bank where Clay doesn’t have an account.
“Somebody’s probably enjoying my check,” Clay said.
The VA told Clay’s daughter they sent a letter to JP Morgan asking for the money to be returned to the U.S. Treasury on Monday. It will take five to seven days for the transfer to happen.
After that, there’s no telling when Clay will have the more than $76,000 he’s owed in back pay.
And time is of the essence for the veteran and his ailing wife, who live in an assisted care facility.
“We don’t have anywhere to go,” he said. “We’re told that next Tuesday the Medicaid is going to take me off of assistance and put me on direct pay.”
When that happens, Clay says they won’t be able to afford staying at the facility. So he and his wife of more than 50 years will have to move in with their nephew if his benefits check doesn't arrive.
“After 88 years, it don’t make you feel good to have to take charity” Clay said. “But if I have to, I guess we have to do it.”
Clay is also supposed to receive monthly benefits from the VA. His family says the first payment was also wired to the wrong account, but they're hopeful he'll get money in July.