Wife of fallen vet loses access to VA benefits, bank savings

CBS47 On Your Side

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — A woman in Atwater lost her husband of 26 years this past summer.

After Janice Traylor’s husband Gary, an Army veteran, died, she says she struggled for months to access thousands of dollars in his bank account. She decided to reach out to CBS47 On Your Side for help reclaiming the thousands of dollars that she desperately needed in order to pay her bills.

Janice and Gary were married for 26 years. Gary was an army veteran who served the country for six years during the Cold War.

“He was very proud of being in the military,” Janice said. “He loved it. His face would light up when talking about the military.”

The Traylor’s say they have lived a humble life with Gary providing what he could for his wife even in hard times.

“I had everything I needed and most things that I wanted,” Traylor said.

The two of them were disabled so their source of income came from social security.

Additionally, Gary had benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs that helped pay for his medications and medical bills.

“He always felt that since he was a veteran, I would be entitled to veteran benefits,” Traylor said. “Drawing veteran benefits along with my social security, he thought I would be fine and I would be okay. But that’s not the case, that did not turn out to be the case.”

Gary died due to heart failure in July.

“He passed away one month before our anniversary, and we kept saying we have an anniversary to celebrate next month, you’re going to be out of this hospital bed.”

After Gary passed, Janice no longer could collect his social security, only her own. That meant half of their income was gone.

Then, Janice tried to receive VA benefits. She applied and received a letter from Veteran Affairs.

“I did view the letter and they did say that I had been denied.”

With just a small portion of the income the two used to collect together, Janice now relies on her social security and their limited savings to get her through.

However, Janice was denied access to a Chase money market account in her husband’s name with thousands of dollars.

“They said I wasn’t the beneficiary,” Traylor said. “We were married 26 years.”

She submitted paperwork then she waited.

“Three weeks turned into three more weeks, then the last time we talked, they said seven weeks on top of what I had already waited,” explained Traylor

Finally, she turned to CBS47 On Your Side.

“If I had not called, I would still be here waiting in limbo,” Traylor said. “I even mentioned to them, ‘Hey, I could end up homeless.'”

We contacted Chase bank who put a new team on Janice’s case. That team reviewed her files then allowed her account access.

“To me, you guys were a godsend because everything was resolved in a timely manner,” Traylor said. “CBS47 was definitely on my side.”

This helped Janice find a temporary solution for a long-term problem. Traylor is getting by for now until her savings runs out.

A dialogue with representatives from the VA led to a review of Janice’s case. Having received her denial letter the question remains; are any other possible benefits to which she’s entitled?

We will continue to be in touch with Janice until we exhaust all efforts to help her receive VA benefits.

If you need CBS47 On Your Side, you’re encouraged to call (559) 761-0383 or send an email to onyourside@cbsfresno.com. If the voicemail box is full, please email the team, so we can be On Your Side.

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