JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- For decades, the pension Alda Collins received for her husband’s World War I service seemed, well, a bit too WWI-era.
“Just $36 a month,” her son, James, said.
And while it seemed off base, attempts to straighten out the matter hit roadblocks for years, he said.
A call to the office of U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, eventually changed that. And the Collins family says it means more than $25,000 in back pay due Alda, whose husband, William, died in 1976.
“We’ve been trying to get it straightened out for a long time,” James, 73, said, noting he applied for back benefits in 2008. “Every time I got a letter back, they’d tell me they were processing it.”
They called Critz after seeing an ad saying the Democratic lawmaker was there to help veterans and senior citizens.
Within months, the $36 checks turned into $1,000 ones.
“It is really just an awesome outcome,” Critz said, calling it a true honor to help. “You can’t help but feel like Mr. Collins found a way to say ‘happy birthday’ to his wife and just had my office deliver the card.”
Alda Collins turned 110 last week. She is believed to be Cambria’s oldest resident and the second-oldest in Pennsylvania.
She is a self-described die-hard Republican.
She’s been casting GOP ballots for president since women earned the right to vote, and she was active in party politics for years, her son said.
But Critz certainly earned her thanks and support, he added, noting she’s voted for Democrats, too.
“I’m happy for the help,” she said.
David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa.