Seniors Today Newspaper
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Can Scams Go On This Long?

A grandson collected his grandmother’s survivor benefits for 30 years after her death.

How, one wonders, can that happen? Is no one checking to be sure those who receive benefits are still living?

In this case the survivor benefits, based on the woman’s marriage to a veteran, kept going to her bank account. The grandson kept spending the money, $1,100 per month for 30 years. He pleaded guilty, as he should have, but was only charged with one count of stealing government property in a plea deal. For that he could get 10 years.

Then there was the woman who kept a scam going for 48 years after her mother died. Apparently no one at the Department of Veterans

Affairs did the math and calculated how old the woman was. The daughter just kept signing checks and sending handwritten letters asking for address changes and saying she was unable to find her mother’s Social Security number. She’ll be required to pay back over $400,000, but there’s no jail sentence in this case. The daughter is now 76 years old.

If you want to do the right thing, after the death of a veteran or someone receiving survivor benefits, call the VA. Just call 800.827.1000.

You might be eligible to receive benefits yourself, depending on the relationship. If you delay and benefits have been sent out already, you’ll need to make arrangements to send the money back. In the case of a disabled veteran, you also might be asked to return any equipment issued by the VA, such as wheelchairs.

It’s the same thing with Social Security. Call them at 800.772.1213 to stop the payments.

Do the right thing before the authorities come knocking at your door. One thing to keep in mind: Even if the amount of money you steal is less than $100, you could still go to jail for a year.

Write to Freddy Groves in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to