VA Reissues 3,200 Missing Pension, Benefit Checks

Times Staff Writer

The Veterans Administration on Tuesday ordered reissuance of about 3,200 pension and benefit checks that apparently failed to reach veterans in several areas of Los Angeles, a spokesman for the agency said.

From the hundreds of calls about March 1 checks that did not arrive, it was determined that the problem affected people in 13 zip code areas, said VA regional public affairs director Bill Sawchek.

A Post Office spokesman said these included neighborhoods in the South-Central, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, La Tijera and other areas.

Although the checks were issued by the VA’s disbursing office in Austin, Tex., postal authorities here notified the agency that they did not receive the usual load destined for Los Angeles veterans.


As the zip codes involved were roughly in sequence (90014, 90015, 90016, 90017 and 90018, for instance), Post Office spokesman David Mazer said, “This leads us to believe we did not get the mail, or we obviously would have delivered it.”

Postal officials and the VA were investigating what happened to the missing checks.

Although Mazer said the Post Office received three calls from people with direct deposit arrangements whose banks did not get their checks, Sawchek said the VA was sure the problem was limited to checks addressed to veterans’ homes.

Sawchek said duplicate checks were ordered by James Maye, regional director for veterans benefits, for all those who have them mailed to their homes--even though some may not have complained.


He advised anyone who has not received a check to call the Los Angeles regional VA office.

“Irrespective of who’s to blame,” said Sawchek, “we decided to go ahead and solve the problem.” But he said anyone who gets two checks as a result of the reissuance “should not cash the second one.”

He also stressed that it might take 8 to 10 days for a replacement check to arrive.

The VA, he added, will issue to any recipient needing it, a letter to creditors explaining the situation.

He noted that about 143,000 people in this area normally receive monthly checks and that “to the best of our knowledge, this has never happened before in Southern California.”