In a few short weeks, we’ll know more about delayed GI Bill payments

Matt Saintsing
October 23, 2018 - 11:38 am

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Student veterans and Congress may finally get to the bottom of why so many GI Bill users are experiencing incredibly long delays in receiving prompt payments as the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee announced a hearing on the issue. 

The subcommittee on economic opportunity will hold an oversight hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 2:00 p.m, in Washington, D.C. in what will be a highly anticipated hearing for anyone still owed money. 

“It is of great concern to me that there continues to be excessive GI Bill payment delays and that VA remains unable to properly implement the necessary changes to the system that were outlined in the Forever GI Bill,” Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“It is of utmost importance that we hold this oversight hearing to get to the bottom this problem and ensure that VA is working to swiftly correct these errors.” 

More information, including a witness list, will be made available in the coming weeks. For now, hundreds of thousands of student veterans have had delayed GI Bill housing payments, forcing many to take out emergency loans, borrow money from friends and family, or fall behind on their bills. 

The issue stems from a series of technological glitches in implementing The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, dubbed the “Forever GI Bill,” signed into law last year. 

Roe’s announcement comes the same day as the VFW called for a hearing on the matter. In a letter to the leadership of the VA Congressional committees, the group’s national legislative director Carlos Fuentes writes, “VA officials repeatedly vowed that students and schools would receive payments on time and, while the amounts may not be correct, veterans would not be harmed.” 

He continues, “Yet, VA has consistently missed its deadlines and has failed to properly notify stakeholders and affected beneficiaries.” 

“Our top priority continues to be helping those students facing a financial hardship because of delayed (monthly housing allowance) payments connect with VA or other resources that might be able to assist them to alleviate their hardship,” Barrett Bogue, vice president for public relations of Student Veterans of America, tells Connecting Vets. 

The VA, along with several veterans’ organizations, urge affected veterans to contact VA’s customer service number at 888-442-4551. 

Terrence Hayes, a spokesman for the VA, said as of Oct. 22, their continuing processing of educational claims is 132,108, which is a 48 percent increase over the same time last year. “While the inventory has been decreasing in recent days, VA expects to experience higher than normal inventory through the remainder of the year,” says Hayes. 

To combat this swell of pending claims, Hayes says some VA employees are working mandatory overtime and added more than 200 additional workers to reduce the processing times.  “With these measures in place we are processing an average of more than 16,000 claims per day,” he adds. 

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