While VA benefits won't change because of the partial federal funding lapse, the agency will change its debt-collection practices to assist some of the 150,000 or more veterans who are missing paychecks.
Furloughed federal employees who owe the VA money can request the suspension of collection activity until April 1, according to the VA's Debt Management Center (DMC) website. To do so, call the DMC at (800) 827-0648.
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VA debts generally stem from benefit overpayments, which can be caused by paperwork errors or by beneficiaries failing to inform the VA of changes that would result in a reduced payout. Veterans receiving compensation based on net worth or marital status, for example, may have to refund some of the money if they fail to notify the VA of a new income stream or a divorce in a timely fashion. Unreported criminal activity, such as a felony conviction, also can lead to overpayments that the veteran must return.
Payment delays for furloughed veterans aren't automatic; interested veterans must request them.
The VA has assembled a list of resources for furloughed federal workers and dependents here.