Sending Office: Honorable John K. Delaney
Sent By:
Samantha.Price@mail.house.gov

Seeking original cosponsors for the bipartisan Veteran Debt Fairness Act

Endorsements: Veterans of Foreign Wars

Cosponsors: Mike Coffman, Tim Ryan 

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in introducing the Veteran Debt Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation to protect veterans’ financial stability from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) benefit processing errors.  Companion legislation has also been introduced by Senate
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Jon Tester.

The VA is responsible for distributing monthly earned benefits to veterans and their beneficiaries. Currently, when the VA makes an overpayment in error to a veteran, the VA can then withhold some or all of a veteran’s benefit, without limitation, including
monthly disability benefit payments. For veterans who live on a fixed income, withholding a benefit payment due to no fault of their own can present an undue hardship in their ability to pay rent or buy groceries. We must do better.

In a House Veterans Affairs Committee’s subcommittee hearing on Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) overpayments in October 2017, Subcommittee Chairman Mike Bost noted that VA overpayments were on the rise. The Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations
at the VBA testified that in 2016, almost 238,000 veterans received overpayments. Overpayments can occur due to a variety of reasons, but a common occurrence is that the VA does not process veteran correspondence in a timely manner. In 2014, the Baltimore
VA Regional Office improperly handled over 8,000 documents and the Office of Inspector General report stated the documents contained unprocessed “claims-related mail with the potential to affect benefits payments.” While the VA has taken steps to reduce overpayments
and address the issue at the source, veterans are still on the hook for errors that are not their fault.

That is why we are introducing the Veteran Debt Fairness Act, which will prevent the VA from collecting debt if caused by errors at the VA. The bill would allow the VA to recoup overpayments only if the debt was due to an error or fraud on the part of the
veteran or beneficiary. Additionally, to reduce the risk of financial hardship, the legislation states that the VA cannot deduct more than 25 percent from a veteran’s monthly payment in order to recoup overpayment. It also requires the VA to provide veterans
with a way to update dependency information on their own, eliminating a common delay that may affect a veteran’s benefits.

Caring for our veterans should not be a partisan issue which is why we encourage you to join our bipartisan effort to protect veterans’ financial stability. For more information or to cosponsor, please contact Samantha Price (Delaney) at
Samantha.Price@mail.house.gov or Kathleen McCarthy (Trott) at
Kathleen.McCarthy@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 

John K. Delaney                                 David Trott

Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Armed Services, Finance, Veterans

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