During last fall’s school term, the VA failed to process tens of thousands of claims submitted for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits in a timely manner. As a result, approximately 80,000 student veterans, depending on money from the GI Bill in order to be able to attend school, went without. In an effort to avoid having veterans pay for tuition out of their own pocket or drop out of school because of the expense, the VA issued $3,000 emergency payments to those in need.
The advance payments were issued from October to December in response to the student veterans complaining about the delays in approving their claims. The reason for the failure to timely issue the GI Bill benefits was the complexity of the program used to process and approve the claims. As a result, some student veterans could not afford to stay in school.
The VA considered the $3,000 payments to be advances against the student veteran’s GI Bill benefits. If the checks were never cashed, the VA expects they will be returned to the VA. If the checks were cashed, the student veterans have two repayment options:
- Repayment through reductions in spring semester GI Bill benefits for those attending school; or
- Direct payments to the VA for those not enrolled.
Two vital steps that must be met in the claims process before a student veterans is awarded benefits under the Post 9-11 GI Bill:
- Students must certify their eligibility; and
- Students must enroll in classes.
Because the VA was not able to process the claims in the 30 days required to ensure the student veterans would receive their benefits on time, they issued the emergency payments in lieu of the above steps being completed.
A new problem arose when some active-duty service members received checks they were not supposed to receive. Those active-duty service members may have qualified for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits but were not supposed to be eligible for the advance payments because those active-duty members are already receive housing or housing allowances from the military, which is what the advance payments were supposed to cover.
The VA believes they have fixed the bugs in the claims processing and will most likely not have the need to supply the advance payments in the spring semester, but only time will tell.
Learn more about the VA demanding repayment of emergency GI Bill funds.
Additional housing benefits are available to disabled veterans which may be based on your disability rating. If you are a disabled veteran who is fighting the VA to receive disability compensation, contact the veterans disability rights law firm of LaVan & Neidenberg.