VA Error Leaves Potentially Thousands Of Student Veterans Without Rent Payments
by Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation, March 31, 2023
Thousands of student veterans will have their housing stipends delayed past April 1 after an error in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) processing system for GI Bill benefits blocked payments, Military Times reported.
Millions of dollars in housing stipends for U.S. military veterans and their dependents expected to receive Friday will instead take several days to transmit and may not arrive until April 3, VA officials said late Thursday, according to Military Times. Officials did not explain what caused the error, which could cause financial problems for individuals dependent on VA compensation to make rent payments that are typically due on the first of the month.
“We are mindful of the stress this may create for our student veterans and their families,” VA officials said in a statement, according to Military Times, Staff are “working to reconstruct the pay file to deliver to the Treasury” as soon as possible, they added.
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More than 500,000 veterans and dependents receive benefits from the post-9/11 GI Bill, and while not all of those beneficiaries qualify for housing stipends, the error will prevent housing payments to all that do qualify, Military Times reported. VA officials did not provide an exact number of people affected.
In the meantime, the department plans to send out electronic notices to veterans as well as an official letter they can share with creditors “in the event this delay impacts their ability to meet personal financial obligations,” Military Times reported. VA has also contacted university administrators “to ensure they are aware of the situation and are prepared to provide any additional support that may be needed.”
The monthly housing payments constitute a portion of the more than $8 billion in GI Bill benefits allocated for fiscal year 2023, which cover tuition costs and other education-related expenses, according to Military Times. Individuals can receive monthly assistance up to $4,000.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of servicemembers and dependents stationed in Guam and Hawaii are in danger of seeing their cost of living allowances slashed by hundreds of dollars starting April 1 as the Pentagon grapples with rising inflation, according to Military.com. Members of Congress representing the two islands have repeatedly pressed the Pentagon to find a solution to the problem in recent weeks.
The Department of Defense conducted a number of surveys and has repeatedly delayed the cuts as they seek a permanent fix, the outlet reported.
“We don’t expect to see any decreases in the March or April OCOLA [Overseas Cost of Living Allowance] rates, and numerous options are being considered by senior department leadership,” a defense official told Military.com.