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Veteran told he's dead, owes money to government

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Photo Courtesy USA Today Photo Courtesy USA Today

(KVUE) -- AUSTIN -- Imagine getting a letter that said you're dead, and your family owes the government a lot of money.

A man in Austin received that letter. He is trying to prove to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs he's very much alive.

Life has always been simple for 59-year-old Charles Hubbard but "death?" Not so much.

"I "died" on Jan. 15 of this year," he said.

The Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War said he learned about his untimely demise in a letter from the VA.

That letter demanded his family pay back benefits sent after his death.

"Our records show the deceased was not entitled to benefits in the amount of $5,270 and 0 cents," Hubbard read from the letter he still carries with him. "The VA said I was deceased, and they closed my checking account when the bank found out."

Hubbard suspects the problem started after a man stole his identity and used it to get treatment at a California hospital. That man then passed away.

"When I received a hospital bill of almost $300,000 in California I said, 'Hold on,' and [then] they called me, they [wanted] me to pay it," he said

Hubbard receives a government pension of around $1,000 a month. It's been three months since he's gotten any money to pay bills or buy food.

"We got a food bank here, and the one at the church where I go to. That's where I get my food from," Hubbard said.

He also feared he wouldn't be able to pay for his Section 8 housing. The landlord cut Hubbard a break, only charging $25 a month until he gets his pension back.

That could take awhile. "I keep calling they say it could be up to eight months," he said.

In the meantime Hubbard keeps reassuring his daughter and grandchildren that he's still around while waits for the VA to officially bring him back to life.

KVUE tried to reach anyone in the VA's Pension Department, but we have not heard back.

Hubbard said he's still able to get health care.

KVUE will stay in touch with Hubbard to see just how long it takes until he gets his pension back.

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