Local News

Veteran's widow sees benefits cut to $32 per month

Posted August 19, 2015

— A Raleigh man says he is battling with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over his ailing mother's pension benefits.

Like so many retirees, 69-year-old Dennis Cuddy is in a major bind. His mother Peggy, once a health activist who crisscrossed the state, is now 91 in a Raleigh rehabilitation facility with fractured ribs from a fall.

As the widow of a veteran, she qualified for a $1,049-a-month pension. But that amount dwindled after Veterans Affairs sent her a letter saying they made a mistake and miscalculated the amount she was due.

Her new pension is $32 a month, and the VA has ordered her to pay back more than $7,000.

“It's both unfair and it's the bureaucracy,” Cuddy said. “Try living one month on $32 buying food and medical bills … It was a really hard, hard, hit.”

The news comes as Cuddy and his mother are losing the condominium they rent. The owner is selling and ordered them out by the end of the month. Cuddy says his mother is in no shape to make decisions.

“She's limited now in her economic ability to do anything, and she's limited in her health to do any packing and moving, and so it's a critical time,” he said. “My own personal resources have dwindled to practically nothing now as well.”

In addition to the VA battle, Cuddy sees his predicament as a lesson to all families with aging parents.

“There is help from the VA, but you've got to be really careful about it because there's bureaucracy and they can do nasty things to you, and you're going to have to make a lot of decisions, a lot of decisions about your parents,” he said.

Cuddy says he has reached out to both North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis for help. Meanwhile, he is weighing his options on a place to live for him and his mother.

WRAL News made several attempts to contact Veterans Affairs for comment but was not able to reach anyone.


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  • Sarah Clayton Aug 22, 2015
    user avatar

    Marie, I'm so sorry you haven't received the help you needed. My husband also was treated in the Durham VA and send home the day he died. It is my belief that he wanted to die at home, rather than in the hospital. Anyway, not all of his funeral bill was paid by the VA, but the amount shown in the VA booklet was paid. There are forms to be completed. I never had any problems. His VA marker was also provided, again forms to be completed, no problems there either. The VA does not cover installation. My husband also served in Vietnam and had a Purple Heart, 100% disability, so some of that may be part of the amount of benefits you are eligible for.

  • Marie Lunghofer Aug 20, 2015
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    You cannot believe anything the va tells you. After years of telling my husband and me if anything happened to him his funeral expenses would be taken care of he was a Vietnam vet the va in Durham NC sent him home to die. After his death 6days later they told us since he passed away at home nothing was covered. So to everyone out there DO NOT believe anything the va tells you. I feel their job is to lie cheat and anything else to keep from paying benefits to our vets.

  • George Herbert Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    The benefits were cut to make up for paying her too much previously. It seems like someone should be able to get the VA to make up the amount over a longer period of time.

  • K Hope Capps Aug 20, 2015
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    She may not have had money being put into the SS fund. Don't you only get benefits if you've actually worked and put money into the system? If she was a stay at home mom/homemaker, that doesn't have money deducted into the system.
    Could be the son's resources ARE his SS.
    Any way you slice it, this is sad and the VA, once again, should be ashamed.

  • Marcy Lyn Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Wait, our own citizens are denied while we support illegals in our country ?

    Some thing is WRONG here !

  • Dan May Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    Can't both the son and mother collect SS benefits? They should also be eligible for other types of public aid. Something does not seem to add up here. Still, the VA seems really messed up on this one...

  • Bobby Caudle Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    contact Dianne Wilson channel 11, also contact omega care planning. omega help me get my mother va benefits very quickly. I shall be praying for you

  • Miranda McCraw Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    It's terrible they have this added mental and financial stress while also being worried about the mother's health. I wonder if there's a way they can get financial advice on which benefits to apply for. I hope the mother's medical care is covered. She must be getting social security too I would guess.

  • Wayne Boyd Aug 20, 2015
    user avatar

    I think this is a black eye on everybody in America. This lady paid almost the same price for her country that her military husband contributed.
    It sickens me to ride by the DSS building in my county and see all those that have contributed nothing but to the population growth of the country living handsomely at taxpayer expense and this lady can't even get crumbs
    Shame on whoever is accountable for this.
    I've often said I think that the DSS and the IRS should switch roles every two years.

  • Sarah Clayton Aug 19, 2015
    user avatar

    If this lady's husband had a Purple Heart, I can give you a NC contact person, but it's all on the VA website and they won't give you any information. I'm sure they will only talk with a family member who has legal authority. However, there is too many things missing in this story. From the picture of the documents, it looks like she was first qualified for VA benefits in 2014. Is this when her husband died? Was he receiving disability before he died? If she is eligible, she should get back pay going back to her husband's death. The amount the beneficiary receives depends on the disability rating. The amount on the document shown in the news story is for almost 100% disability.