Two days after discussing a solution, VA cancels overtime work on GI Bill backlog

Elizabeth Howe
November 21, 2018 - 7:41 am

Photo courtesy of House Republicans

It was just last Thursday at a House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing that Veterans Benefits Administration officials said they would continue with mandatory overtime work — including weekends — until the backlog of GI Bill claims is resolved. The 10,000-plus claims awaiting processing provide veterans with money for school and basic living expenses like food and rent. As the delay on those payments continues, veterans are dropping out of school, unable to pay fees, and some face eviction.

And yet, two days after the hearing, the VA canceled the overtime weekend work that's supposed to help solve this problem.

Why?

IT problems — the same thing that exacerbated the backlog in the first place. 

Weekend work was canceled at the last minute — 9 a.m. Saturday morning according to an NBC report. A committee investigation into the cancelation revealed that it may have been an "internal communication issue." Federal VA offices communicated that the system would be updated over the weekend but that the update would cause no interruptions to the system. 

"Education staff were told that this wouldn’t impact processing of education claims but they were wrong," a committee aide told NBC. "As such, they canceled overtime this past weekend.”

Perhaps unpredicted hold-ups like this are why the VA refused to provide even an estimated timeline for backlog resolution. 

 “We are not giving you a date,” VA Undersecretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence told the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity at last Thursday's hearing. “You will not leave this hearing with a date.” 

In the meantime, more than 10,000 pending claims and the veterans who submitted them have no choice but to wait and see.

Read also: 
Latest GI Bill blunder leaves student vets penniless
VA official reassigned before GI Bill Hearing
VA: No fix in sight for GI Bill disaster

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