Hi, I'm Chris Mais, I'm 32, a father of 2 step daughters (14, 13) and a 5 year old son. Me and my wife have been married nearly 10 years, much of that was while I was active duty. On to my story.
I was discharged in 2012 from my years of service in the United States Navy. Upon being told I was leaving the service, I was given involuntary separation pay totaling about $11,300. Which was a good surprise to me. I knew it would be taxed, nbd, but hell some spare money while we shift our lives into my new job. My final pay from the navy was only $4,500 (most of that is saved up leave vacation time).
Fast forward several years to when I filed for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs for a slew of medical problems (degenerative disks, spinal fractures, slipped vertebra, Damaged musculature in both arms, my left shoulder having ruptured bursa, and more. anyway the list is long). I was awarded 40% disability, and moved on with life. Fast forward to where I am now, and the VA has come to me saying that I am not entitled to disability, because I took severance pay.
Meaning that because after my separation was taxed at 25% (standard for severance pay) and my enlistment bonus was removed from it (another $6300) my severance was about $2300.
In the last year I have had a case with the regional Department of veterans affairs, and spent months on the phone with different branches of the government dealing with separation, and pay, and our LES's (military pay stubs), and for months I was unable to get ahold of anyone, and was directed to dozens of different departments along the way. sometimes spending upwards of 5 hours a day on the phone trying to contact people for my final pay stubs.
Finally, after the court date I reached someone who could send me my final LES's. I sent them into my case manager, and her supervisor reviewed them, and the decision remains. As of January 1, the department of veterans affairs will begin taking 100% of my disability until my full severance has been recouped.
Not the $2300 I received as part of my final separation pay, but the whole $8400 that was my post tax amount. This doesn't count the part where the navy took back another $6300 before I ever saw my severance, and that amount also counts towards my debt with the VA.
Had this been explained I would not have taken severance pay, and immediately filed with the VA.
Currently I'm in school full time working on my engineering degree, and using the post 9/11 GI bill as our income to live, and combined with my disability we make due, however, with out that disability it will be impossible, and we will loose our home, and be on the street, or ill have to give up on my dream of being an Engineer.
Go fund me is to repay the VA as quickly as possible, so that I am able to continue my pursuit of a higher education, and that my family will continue to have a home and food on the table.
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