Picture credit - Department of Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veteran Affairs redesigned they way they send out payments to veterans for housing allowances last year. Now, this change has created a new calculation causing thousands of veterans to receive delayed benefits nationwide.

The VA released information on Wednesday about the progress of the delay which they have attributed to technology under sections of the law.

President Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Bill in 2017. The bill garnered strong bipartisan support in Congress and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

The landmark law expanded veterans benefits for a new generation and their families; however, it didn’t upgrade the VA’s out-of-date technical capabilities to account for those changes.

The VA will wait a year to pay veterans the rates that will comply with the new Forever GI Bill policy.

So what are the new changes and updates and how will this impact the Forever GI Bill moving forward?

  • Effective Dec. 1, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will reset its implementation efforts for sections 107 and 501 of the law to give the department the time, contracting support and resources necessary to develop the capability to process Spring 2020 enrollments in accordance with the law by December 1, 2019.
    • This includes soliciting bids from contractors for support in the areas of program integration, systems implementation, and software development. 
  • During this time, VBA will pay monthly housing allowance rates for the Post-9/11 GI Bill at the current academic year uncapped Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) rates.
    • For many students, this DoD BAH rate will be equal to or higher than their current payment.
    • VBA will also correct retroactively any underpayments resulting from section 107 and 501 implementation problems.
    • 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.
  • Also, for the current academic year (2018-2019), VBA will pay housing allowances based on the location of a school’s main campus, rather than the physical location of the student.
  • This interim policy will terminate by December 1, 2019, upon implementation of a fully developed IT solution for sections 107 and 501 of the law.
  • Finally, VBA will define a training site as a “campus” when the following conditions are true: the physical site of the training is either owned or leased by the school, and the school has ownership or control over the student’s classroom instruction or the faculty conducting the instruction. This approach reduces the administrative burden for schools and students from VBA’s initial interpretation of the law.

The VA maintains as these changes are being implemented, they will be in constant contact with Veterans, Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and others that relay or are impacted by these services.

“Redesigning the way VBA calculates Post 9/11 GI Bill housing rates during a busy academic season was like flying a plane while building it, and that was unfair and frustrating to Veterans and taxpayers. That’s why we are resetting our implementation of the law for the next year to ensure we get the technology and formula right to put Veterans first,” said Secretary Wilkie. “In the meantime, beneficiaries receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill housing allowances will be paid at the DoD BAH rate, which in many cases will be equal to or higher than their current payment.”

 

 

 

 

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