Five Ways VA Makes Debt Collection More Compassionate and Convenient

0

Recently, VA announced that veterans will continue to have the option to apply for a temporary benefit debt suspension through December 31, 2022. In addition to providing flexible debt collection relief during difficult times, VA has worked hard to make the experience of paying off a VA debt less stressful by removing barriers to applying for debt relief.

DMC eliminated paperwork requirements for temporary benefit debt suspension

Since April 2020, VA has offered veterans experiencing financial hardship the ability to temporarily suspend collection of benefit debts with no paperwork required. VA recently extended the end date of this relief option from September 30, 2022 to December 31, 2022, to provide more than 30 months of debt relief to veterans since April 2020. To request a temporary hardship suspension for benefit debt, veterans can call the Debt Management Center (DMC) at 800-827-0648 or log on to Ask VA (https://ask.va.gov) to submit a request (the options for joining the DMC can be found under the “Veterans Affairs-Debt” category).

Veterans who previously requested a temporary suspension for hardship related to their benefit debt until September 30, 2022 will automatically have their suspension extended until December 31, 2022.

Reduce the number of veterans reported to credit reporting agencies (CRA)

In February 2022, VA released a federal regulatory update resulting in a 99% reduction in adverse debts reported to consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). You can read more details in the press release here.

How this change helps

VA will not report a debt to the CRA until all available collection efforts have been exhausted and the specified debt is classified as uncollectible. In other words, “uncollectible” means that the debt is not only overdue, but VA has also tried every other available collection option without success. VA will also not report debts owed by veterans determined to be catastrophically disabled or entitled to free VA health care due to low income.

Launch of an improved online debt collection portal

The VA Debt Portal launched in January 2021, allowing veterans to manage their VA debt online. Since launch, the portal has added the ability to send email notifications offering online debt resolution for VBA overpayments with email confirmation. In July 2022, the Debt Portal was updated to allow veterans to view both VBA Benefit Debt information and VHA Medical Copay in one place.

How this change helps

Veterans now have a central location to access their VBA debt notices, VHA medical copayment statements, and debt resolution options.

Extension of the grace period before offsetting benefits from 30 to 90 days for compensation and pension debts (C&P)

In January 2021, VA extended the deadline from 30 to 90 days for veterans to settle their C&P debt before deductions from their benefit payments begin.

How this change helps

Veterans receiving C&P payments are now given more time to work with a Veterans Services Officer and contact VA for assistance before their benefit payments are reduced to satisfy the debt. During this time, veterans can apply for an extended repayment plan or request debt forgiveness, compromise, or temporary suspension.

Updated letters to provide resources on managing financial stress

The VA Debt Management Center has partnered with the VHA Behavioral Health Office to add wording to debt notification letters on how to manage financial stress and provide online mental health resources. Veterans can access this information at http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus/. The updated letters were launched in March 2021.

How this change helps

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, including feelings of stress, fear, anxiety or depression. Updates to the letter make important information available to veterans who may need support.

Contact information

Veterans can access VA debt information at www.va.gov/manage-va debt. Veterans and beneficiaries with questions regarding VBA benefit overpayments can call 800-827-0648. For questions about medical and pharmaceutical copayment debt, contact the Health Resource Center at 866-400-1238.


Source link

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.