Veteran's widow sees benefits cut to $32 per month
Posted August 19, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.