Some veterans have received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs explaining how they intend to “recoup” the advance payments made to over 170K veterans last fall.
On Jan. 25, the VA began sending letters to veterans who received the advance payment. The letters are being sent in phases so as this writing not all affected veterans have been contacted yet.
In addition, a follow-up letter will be sent some time in the near future. A VA official suggested that veterans should wait until they receive the second letter before taking action. Based on the shifting sands of GI Bill policy I highly recommend that vets take that advice.
The following is a list of “recoupment” highlights which have been confirmed so far:
- Letters advising advance payment recipients of the reimbursement process were sent the week of January 25. Letters are being sent by e-mail and through the U.S. Postal Service.
- All advance pay recipients will receive a second letter from VA’s Debt Management Center that provides options for reimbursing VA for the advance payments.
- Deductions may be changed or suspended, as appropriate, if alternate repayment plans are established with the Debt Management Center or while waiver requests are being considered.
- The right to dispute the recovery of the advance and the right to request waiver of recovery will be explained (in the second letter).
- Individuals will be allowed 30 days to respond (to the second letter).
- Options will include establishing a monthly repayment plan.
- Repayment plans can extend as long as one year but each plan will be determined based on individual circumstances.
- If advance pay recipients are currently receiving education benefits and they do not establish a repayment agreement with the Debt Management Center :
- VA will deduct $750 from monthly education payments beginning April 1 (or the full amount if less than $750).
- Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee payments to schools will not be affected. (but stipends will)
- Benefits payable as a result of enrollment changes or re-enrollments for additional terms will also be applied to recovery after 30 days.
- Arrangements must be made to repay any balance remaining at the end of the enrollment period, unless the Debt Management Center is notified of plans to re-enroll in the near future.
- Advance pay recipients not currently receiving VA educational benefits must make arrangements with the Debt Management Center to reimburse VA.
- When all efforts to recover are exhausted, the Debt Management Center will forward the remaining balance for collection by the Treasury Offset Program.
So there you have it. Be sure to carefully weigh your options. If you will be enrolled full-time for at least four months after April then you may decide to take no action and let the VA reduce your stipend or monthly MGIB payment. But the choice is yours on how to pay the VA back.
- Terry Howell