Wife deemed unqualified to handle husband’s financial benefits in retaliation for tort claim
April 21, 2016 – Syracuse, N.Y. – The financial means of a local disabled veteran and his wife has been stripped away by Veterans Affairs in retaliation of a tort claim filed against the department for his care.
In 2007, Rose Marie Diana filed a tort claim against the VA on behalf of her husband, James, after a drug prescribed by a VA doctor resulted in a diabetes diagnosis. James Diana is a veteran of the Vietnam War and clinically diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder. He was deemed incompetent in 2001, and agreed to have his wife appointed as his fiduciary responsible for handling his finances. In addition, Rose Marie has been working for nearly a decade to correct her father’s military records pertaining to a previously classified mission during World War II, which was declassified in 2008.
Due to recent medical necessities concerning Rose Marie’s well-being, James offered to be placed in respite care in order for his wife to get needed medical attention and have time to recover, as she would not be able to care for him physically during that time. In January, Rose Marie was contacted by an inspector from the VA asking to see financial statements and accounting information regarding the benefits for her husband’s care. The initial information was rejected, and so were detailed spreadsheets provided the second time.
In February, the VA deemed Rose Marie no longer qualified to act as his fiduciary. This responsibility has since been stripped from Rose Marie, and instead given to the Rescue Mission of Utica.
“It is sad that the wife of a disabled veteran, who spent decades overseeing his care, is now being told she no longer knows what is best for her husband or how to handle the family’s finances,” said Tully Rinckey PLLC Founding Partner Greg Rinckey. “The financial stability of the Diana family is being threatened.”
According to federal regulation 38 CFR Part 13, and the VA Fiduciary Program Manual, “Accounting periods are generally scheduled at regular intervals, usually every year. VA will let (fiduciary) know in writing about the accounting period, which is usually the anniversary date of (the) appointment as fiduciary for the beneficiary.” Out of the 15 years Rose Marie acted as her husband’s fiduciary, this February was the first time she had been contacted about an upcoming accounting period, and without the proper written notification.
Tully Rinckey PLLC filed a Notice of Disagreement on behalf of Rose Marie in March, which was denied. A second Notice of Disagreement has since been filed on behalf of James Diana to have fiduciary responsibility transferred back to his wife.
“For more than 30 years Mrs. Diana has diligently cared for her husband, and in return he was able to ensure her financial well-being as his dependent,” said Rinckey. “It is unfortunate the VA has opted to deem a loving wife unqualified to oversee her husband’s finances, when they made no similar attempts since that responsibility was placed upon her.”
For more information, please contact Marcy Velte at (315) 492-4700 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.