Veterans facing financial difficulty will have a few more months to take advantage of VA’s hardship suspension for benefit debt, the department announced Aug. 29.
The suspensions will continue through Dec. 31, per the VA, extending past its original Sept. 30 expiration date. Veterans seeking more information about the program and their VA benefit debt in general can visit VA.gov/manage-va-debt, or call (800) 827-0648 with questions.
Veterans will begin receiving debt notification letters in September outlining available extended repayment plans, waivers, and other relief options, according to the announcement. Types of debt covered by the program include pension and disability compensation overpayments, as well as education benefit overpayments or mistakes.
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The VA suspended its debt collection process in April 2020 in response to financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It restarted collection on Oct. 1, 2021, but continued offering hardship relief and stopped deducting debt from benefit payments until January 2022.
The department canceled about $1 billion in medical and pharmacy co-payments from April 2020 through September 2021, per the announcement – part of a series of debt-management efforts including a 99% reduction in the number of veterans referred to credit agencies over debt issues and a streamlined process for debt repayment, tracking, and relief application.
“Helping Veterans manage, pay off, and — in some cases — eliminate their debt is one of our top priorities,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in the Aug. 29 announcement. “Extending this hardship suspension is a key part of that critical effort, and it will help ease the burden for Veterans who are living with debt.”
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