There has to be an audit, says the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), before it considers repaying any veteran who received wrong, or smaller GI Bill benefit payments. While the Department has not said a clear-cut ‘no’ to such reimbursements, a full audit must be undertaken.
The Department has come under full scrutiny, especially after the latest GI Bill payments were delayed, due to a change in the Forever GI Bill and the housing allowances. Many vets have been left with smaller benefit payments than expected, but also, with delays in the payments. The delays were due to computer issues, and were the first hiccups in the new system. The smaller payments were the second hassle, one that is affecting thousands of war vets.
Who is responsible for the mess at VA?
Executive Director Robert Worley has been reassigned, and he is no longer looking after the education portfolio at the Department. It is unclear if the gap left by his departure is yet to be filled.
The Department is undergoing a major change, and on Wednesday, announced that they would delay the bill’s housing changes until 2019. They have also said that the vets who received the incorrect GI Bill payments will eventually be compensated.
Whether they will ultimately be compensated, or when, remains to be seen. Committee aides said that the Department may not retroactively reimburse the vets, and added that it may well ignore the law.
When the Department of Veteran Affairs spokesman was pressed for comment by the media, Curtis Cashour said that attempting to implement the new law would put “an enormous administrative burden for schools in which some 35,000 certifying officials would have to track retroactively and re-certify hundreds of thousands of enrollment documents.”
He said that the department would instead pay out housing allowances in accordance with the previous Basic Housing Allowance rates and would continue to do this until 2019.
However, Cashour later clarified that “every single Veteran will be made whole for their housing benefits this year.”
“For many students, this DoD BAH [Pentagon Basic Allowance for Housing] rate will be equal to or higher than their current payment,” Cashour continued. “If a student was overpaid due to the change in law or because of VBA’s challenges in implementing the law, the student will not be held liable for the debt.”
Paul Lawrence, the Under Secretary for Benefits of the Department of Veteran Affairs, is set to testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.