5 retired VA nurses sue federal agency |

5 retired VA nurses sue federal agency

Five retired, part-time government nurses claim in a class-action federal lawsuit that the Office of Personnel Management refuses to properly calculate benefits for former Veterans Affairs nurses unless they hire lawyers.

Sylvia Wigton, 79, of Butler and Gail G. Hudson, 73, of West Grove, Chester County, filed the lawsuit along with Audrey L. Gorgonzola, 75, of Boise, Idaho, Kathryn Daane, 75, of Sturgis, S.D., and Dolores Vassalluzzo, 69, of Oceanside, Calif.

The VA started offering an incentive in the 1950s that gave part-time nurses credit for full-time work on their pensions, the lawsuit says. The agency needed the incentive to get enough skilled nurses willing to work part-time hours on irregular schedules so that veterans hospitals around the country could maintain full nursing staffs, the lawsuit says.

When the nurses retired, however, the Office of Personnel Management refused to give them full-time credit for the years they worked part-time, the lawsuit says.

A federal administrative law judge in 2008 upheld a claim by 160 retired VA nurses and the agency recalculated those retirees’ benefits as well as another 215 who hired lawyers to press their claims, but it has made no attempt to identify and recalculate the benefits for other retired VA nurses and has ignored claims some retirees filed on their own behalf without a lawyer, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the agency to identify and recalculate the benefits for each retired VA nurse that was promised the incentive.

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