06 Apr Trump Asks VA to Stop Withholding Money from Veterans
Keeping in mind the national emergency due to the spread of novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to stop withholding any benefits or payments from veterans who have a debt with the agency.
On April 2nd, Trump declared that he had directed VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to suspend any collections from veterans.
During the news conference, the president said, “We take very good care of our veterans. At my direction, Secretary Wilkie will use any authority at his disposal to extend deadlines for benefits and suspend debt collections.”
Although the exact timeline and process of the debt suspension wasn’t clarified, the VA’s Debt Management Center (DMC) says on its website that it is presently offering temporary debt relief on a case-by-case basis.
The website mentions, “If you are affected by the COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS), have a [Veterans Benefits Administration] benefit debt and need temporary financial relief, please contact DMC at 1-800-827-0648 to request assistance.”
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Ideally, as per the president’s statement, you shouldn’t need to call the VA’s DMC to have your debt suspended. However, it is recommended to take the initiative and proactively request suspension of debt collections, just in case.
Trump’s statement came as a directive to the department to stop the collection of any debts associated with VA medical treatment; however, no further details were shared about the implementation.
Also, keep in mind that if you owe the VA money for overpaid benefits, your debt will not be excused, just suspended. You will still need to pay it back eventually. The exact timeline of the suspension was not declared. We are waiting for more details from the Department of VA.
Veterans Education Success, a veterans advocacy group, cheered the announcement on its Twitter account, stating,
“We’re cautiously optimistic of this announcement as it’s been a priority of ours during this time of a national crisis in our country.”