FOX23 Investigates: Veteran's debt forgiven

VIDEO: FOX23 Investigates: Veteran Pay Back
Quick Facts:
  • Tulsa veteran surprised to learn he owes the Department of Veterans Affairs more than $58,000.
  • He received letters stating his entire monthly VA check would be withheld to pay the debt.
  • Another letter claimed the VA was going to withhold more than what he receives each month.
  • He contacted FOX23 and Sen. Jim Inhofe's office for help.
A Tulsa veteran's debt is forgiven after he reached out to FOX23's Shae Rozzi and she started contacting officials. 
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Robert Hamilton served in the army during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He told FOX23 he suffers from PTSD.

He reached out to FOX23 after Veteran Affairs told him about a $58,000 debt he didn't know he had. Hamilton said there was some sort of mix-up with his Social Security income being reported; he said he reported his income and the VA said he did not.

FOX23 found this issue has popped up for other veterans and Rozzi started making calls. Hamilton reached out to the VA and Sen.Jim Inhofe before reaching out to FOX23. Days later a letter came forgiving the debt Hamilton owed the VA.

Officials with the VA told FOX23 that issues with Social Security and VA overpayments is a common problem and any veteran with questions about benefits should contact their local veteran office or organizations like the VFW or Disabled American Veterans.

Senator Inhofe sent this statement:

"I'm pleased that Mr. Hamilton was able to have his issue resolved by the Department of Veterans Affairs in a timely manner. Our veterans have selflessly served their country and it is our duty to ensure that they are treated with respect and dignity. It is my honor to help any veteran who is in need of assistance in Oklahoma." 

He also urged veterans with issues to call his Tulsa office at 918-748-5111 to see how he can help.

Here's the full statement from the Department of Veteran's Affairs:

VA regularly performs a variety of audits to ensure benefits are being allocated appropriately. For the pension benefit, we have long-standing data-matching agreements with Social Security, IRS, Bureau of Prisons, and others.
When a veteran fails to report changes in income, this may result in an overpayment of benefits. As it is the veteran's responsibility to provide VA with this information in a timely manner, a debt will be created in an attempt to recoup that overpayment. Once the debt is created, the veteran may request a waiver as Mr. Hamilton did. Each case is weighed on its own evidence and merit. We do not track the number of cases where the entire debt was forgiven.
Make sure to be knowledgeable about your benefits and understand the reporting requirements, to minimize the chance you will be put in the situation of having to repay a debt. Be sure to carefully read any letters sent to you about your benefits so that you can report any necessary changes. We also strongly recommend contacting a state organization such as the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, or a veterans service organization.