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Falling Through the VA Benefits Cracks: "I've Been Abandoned"

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Bonne Terre, MOA disabled Iraq vet from the Army reserve who receives VA benefits and would be in line for additional funds that he desperately needs has been denied. Why? Because five years after he became permanently disabled, Army Reserve Spc. Michael Pyatt has yet to see his name taken off the active duty roster. Until that happens, he cannot receive his retirement benefits from the service.

The 38-year-old Bonne Terre, Missouri resident is tangled in a sea of red tape from which he can't seem to escape—and according to the October 3, 2010 edition of the Missouri Post-Dispatch, the situation is so arcane that his unit attempted to deploy Pyatt a second time in 2007 even though he wore a knee brace and walked with a cane.

Pyatt was 33 when, in August 2005, he stepped from his gun turret of his Humvee in Iraq and landed awkwardly. He heard a pop in his hip, according to the Post-Dispatch. That's when all his troubles began, and five years later Pyatt is still languishing between the cracks.

True, Pyatt does receive $2,932 monthly in VA disability benefits. However, until he is declared officially unfit for duty by the military he is denied disability retirement pay that would augment his current benefits stipend. The Pyatts are deep in debt, and a formal discharge would further help the family through the provision of medical insurance for Pyatt's wife and daughter.

At one time Pyatt was diagnosed with no fewer than 25 ailments by the VA. The Department of Veteran's Affairs, in 2007, declared Pyatt totally and permanently disabled.

But he is still not considered unfit for duty, and thus is denied the complete basket of veterans benefits that would be his due.

To make matters worse, Pyatt applied for Social Security disability benefits in July 2007 but was denied. Pyatt told the Post-Dispatch that the judge in the case did not allow him to call witnesses and several errors were seen in the citing of his medical records. It was noted that Pyatt uses a cane by choice, in spite of the fact that his medical records indicated a doctor ordered the cane.

Were Pyatt to have been approved for Social Security, his total disabled veterans benefits package would have increased by about $1,000 per month together with retroactive payments totaling $41,000.

It's money Pyatt, now 38, and his family desperately need. He notes that two days after his Social Security claim was denied, Medicare and Medicaid notified the Pyatts that in their view Pyatt was totally and permanently disabled.

And yet the man continues to be denied the full measure of benefits normally enjoyed by disabled veterans. "It's getting borderline criminal," said retired Air Force Col. Mike Hayden of the Military Officers Association of America, in comments published in the Post-Dispatch. "(The Army) can't use this individual for the reason they have him, which is to deploy and fight, so, unfortunately, he's holding a spot for someone who could. He's trying to do the right thing—get off the rolls—and he can't."

And until that happens, Pyatt must wait for his full veterans medical benefits. "I've fallen through the cracks," he said in an interview. "I've been abandoned."


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Posted by

Sorry to hear about your trouble getting your well deserved benefits. You are SPOT ON about the clown mentioned in the article. He's a FRAUD and a clown who is seeking to defraud the government.

Posted by

So after reading the story, I find it hard to sympathize with this individual. You according to the story are already receiving almost $3,000 a month. That amount is equal to someone who works for around $50,000 a year, and pays taxes from their income. I don't know what you did before the service, but I doubt you earned 50K a year. You on the other hand are exempt from having to file a tax return on your disability VA pension. So in essence it is as if you are earning 50K a year. Now you are angry because you want another $1,000 a month on top of that. All this is due to a simple hip fracture, and whatever else your claiming. Well get over it my friend and be grateful for what you already have. I have been fighting with the VA since 1985 for a gunshot wound to my spinal cord. At present I am still only 70% due to the fact that I was cold war, rather than post 911. I am really getting sick of vets who bitch when they should be already grateful for what they have.


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