VA resumes collection of debts from overpayments and medical bills
Veterans Affairs Officials resumption of debt collection this weekend for people who have received overpayment of disability and education benefits or who owe co-payments for medical visits, ending a suspension of the debt program in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move means veterans who owe the ministry money will start receiving debt notifications in the coming days, with information on how to repay and what financial aid programs may be available to them.
However, VA officials have said they won’t start deducting those debts from monthly benefits until January 2022, to give individuals time to prepare for the financial impact of moves.
About 600,000 veterans are expected to be affected by the move. Of this group, about half have made payments to VA since the announcement of the suspension of debt collection in April 2020. The rest have made partial payments or entered into a repayment plan.
VA officials said the money owed to them was around $ 1.13 billion.
Debt collections were suspended by the ministry as part of a series of changes the ministry put in place to respond to the new pandemic threat of the time.
Many of these office closures and program suspensions have been rescinded in recent months as the number of staff and patients across the VA system have been vaccinated and resumed normal operations.
In a statement, VA executives said they would “continue to provide relief options such as extended repayment plans, waivers and temporary hardship suspensions during these difficult times.” It has been and will remain a priority for the department to work individually with each Veteran. “
Officials have said that all veterans who owe debts related to indemnities and retirement benefits will automatically be placed on a 36-month repayment plan starting in January.
In cases where individuals have small benefit payments and large unpaid debts, the money withheld could wipe out their entire monthly allowance. But officials called these “rare cases” and said officials at the VA Debt Management Center would work with all individuals to ensure these moves don’t cause financial harm.
For student debt, the ministry “will recover the benefits paid to cover the debt instead of instituting an automatic repayment plan.” Officials said the reason for this approach is to ensure veteran students don’t face significant debt after graduation.
Veterans can request a postponement of collection actions until the end of fiscal 2022, which is September 30, 2022. In some cases, Veterans can also appeal to have their debts reduced or completely wiped out.
People with questions about debts owed due to overpayments or errors can call the VA Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648 for more information.
People with medical reimbursements should manage these issues through the Health Resource Center, available at 1-866-400-1238.
Additional details are also available on the ministry website.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on policies relating to military personnel and veterans. His work has earned him numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.