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Strategic Considerations When Fighting VA Disability Fraud Target Letter Cases

Strategic Considerations When Fighting VA Disability Fraud Target Letter Cases

Veterans who receive a target letter from the VA alleging disability benefits fraud often feel scared and overwhelmed. However, with the right legal strategy, these cases can often be resolved favorably. This article provides an overview of strategic considerations when fighting VA disability fraud allegations.

What is a VA Target Letter?

A target letter from the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) states that you are under investigation for allegedly committing fraud to obtain VA disability benefits. The letter usually provides basic information about the allegations and may request that you participate in an interview with investigators[1].

While receiving a target letter is understandably stressful, it does not necessarily mean you will be criminally charged. OIG investigations often do not result in prosecution. However, it is essential to take these allegations seriously and consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Common VA Disability Fraud Allegations

Some of the most common VA disability fraud allegations include:

  • Exaggerating the severity of a service-connected disability to obtain a higher rating
  • Faking an illness or injury to obtain VA disability benefits
  • Working while receiving VA disability benefits based on being “unemployable”
  • Failing to report improvement in a disability or income changes that could affect benefits

The VA target letter should explain the specific allegations against you. Your attorney can then begin investigating the allegations and building a defense strategy.

Getting Legal Help After Receiving a Target Letter

Consulting an attorney experienced in fighting VA fraud cases is critical after receiving a target letter. An attorney can advise you on how to respond and protect your rights. Key reasons to get legal help include:

  • An attorney can deal directly with VA investigators on your behalf.
  • They can advise you on whether to participate in an OIG interview and assist with interview preparation.
  • They will evaluate the strength of the VA’s case and identify weaknesses.
  • An attorney can present evidence and legal arguments to convince the VA not to pursue charges.
  • If charges are filed, an attorney can defend you in court.

Having an advocate deal directly with the VA rather than trying to handle it alone can greatly improve the chances of resolving the case favorably.

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Assessing the Strength of the VA’s Case

After reviewing the allegations and evidence, your attorney can provide an honest assessment of the strength of the VA’s case. If the evidence against you is weak, the attorney may be able to convince the VA to drop the investigation. If the evidence is stronger, the focus will shift to developing counter-evidence and legal defenses.

When assessing the case, some questions your attorney will consider include:

  • Is the VA relying solely on inconsistencies in medical records, or do they have other evidence of intent to defraud?
  • Are the medical issues complex, making differences in doctors’ disability ratings understandable?
  • Is the dollar amount of alleged overpayment low enough that prosecution may not be worth VA resources?
  • Does the VA have evidence contradicting your statements about disabilities and employment?

Thorough case assessment provides a roadmap for building an effective defense.

Challenging the VA’s Evidence

In many cases, the VA’s evidence of fraud is flawed or incomplete. Experienced attorneys know how to identify evidentiary weaknesses and challenge the VA’s allegations through:

  • Obtaining documentation – Your attorney can secure medical records, employment records, and other documents to undermine the VA’s accusations.
  • Utilizing experts – Medical experts can provide opinions that refute the VA’s conclusions about your disability status and ability to work.
  • Conducting interviews – Your attorney may interview witnesses and others familiar with your disabilities to gather favorable testimony.
  • Analyzing data – VA data systems can contain errors that affected your disability rating and payments. Identifying these can weaken the VA’s position.

Vigorously contesting the evidence is often the key to defeating VA fraud allegations.

Asserting Legal Defenses

Beyond contesting the evidence, your attorney can raise legal defenses that may defeat a fraud prosecution. Possible defenses include:

  • No intent to defraud – Honest mistakes or misunderstandings about reporting requirements are not fraud.
  • Statute of limitations – VA fraud charges must be brought within 5 years.
  • Reliance on VA rating officials – You relied in good faith on VA disability ratings and awards.
  • VA system confusion – The complexity of the VA system caused unintentional errors.
  • Due process violations – The VA investigation violated your constitutional rights.

An aggressive legal defense combined with evidentiary challenges gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal prosecution or civil penalties.

Negotiating a Settlement with the VA

Once your attorney has presented counter-evidence and asserted defenses, they may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement with the VA. This can happen either before or after formal charges are filed. Possible settlements include:

  • The VA agreeing to drop the case entirely.
  • Avoiding criminal prosecution by agreeing to repay any disability overpayments.
  • Having the VA reduce alleged overpayment amounts.
  • Entering a payment plan for any repayments owed.
  • Accepting a lesser civil monetary penalty.

Settlement negotiations require experience reading VA officials and leveraging the defenses and evidence to your advantage. An attorney well-versed in VA practices can often negotiate a fair outcome.

Take VA Target Letters Seriously

The bottom line is not to panic but take VA allegations very seriously if you receive a target letter. Consult an attorney immediately to protect your rights and develop an effective strategy. With the right legal help, many veterans are able to resolve these cases without criminal convictions or financial devastation.

The most prudent step after receiving a VA target letter is to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in fighting VA fraud cases. They can provide honest case assessments and advise you on how best to proceed.


[1] Fraud Avoidance for Veterans, Department of Veterans Affairs.

[2] Decoding FBI Target Letters: Implications and Strategies for Defense Lawyers, Federal Lawyers.

[3] Veterans Targeted in Benefits Scams, Federal Communications Commission.

[4] Advocates Worry Scammers Will Soon Target Vets Due to Receive New Burn Pit Benefits, Military.com.

[5] FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration is Supporting America’s Veterans and Their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors, The White House.

[6] US Supreme Court won’t take combat veterans’ mental health appeal, Reuters.

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