Sunday, June 17, 2012

Veterans still not getting education payments

Remember when we thought the days of veterans having to take out loans and risk eviction because the VA was unable to process the education benefits checks were over?

Guess what?

Those days are still not over.

senator burr
Wednesday in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Richard Burr (above), the Ranking Member on the Committee, addressed what was going on with two VA officials.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: I need to move to the GI Bill real quick.  And I just want to paraphrase an article which was written [by Tony Burbeck] on June the 12th which was Tuesday in the Charlotte Observer.  It talks about local veterans who are now enrolled in a school that aren't getting their tuition and student housing money as promised from the GI Bill and it's threatening their ability to stay in school and to pay their rent. I won't name the veterans, five of them.  "They say that they're facing the same problems: thousands of dollars in government backed tuition money from their GI Bills plus a monthly basic housing allowance which hasn't come through since they started class May the 7th." Not even a book fee.  Haven't received anything.  "We got out of the United States Marine Corps April 22nd."  "Hall's certificate of eligibility says he's entitled to 100 percent of benefits covered under the GI Bill at an institution of higher education.  He's in school, but his tutition hasn't been paid. Hall says he might have to drop out of if the GI Bill tuition payment doesn't come through.  He added the Department of Veterans Affairs also told him they are six to eight weeks behind processing payments.  Hall is already at the end of the line with rent money that could be paid with the housing allowance.  He said he faced eviction if he didn't receive the money.  Some veterans have taken out student loans they didn't think they needed to.  Others are working all night to make up for those missing benefits.  'I have received zero of my VA benefits,' White said."  And Maxwell said "Nothing."  Does that disturb you?  Because everytime this Committee asks the question of the VA, "Are we late on payments? Is this thing working?," the answer we get is, "Yeah.  It works perfectly.  We're getting them out there."  These are guys who have been in school since May the 7th   They're veterans. It's a pretty reputable media outlet.  Feel fairly certain that this Marine didn't get it wrong, 100% eligable.  But there's no payment going to his school.  There's no housing stipend, there's no book fee that's being made. 
Curtis Coy: Senator, we're always concerned with any of our veterans who are getting payments late.  We process educational claims in four different sites across the country.  Uh, right now for original claims, uh, Mr. Worley can-can correct me on the, uh, exact number perhaps but on original claims, we're looking at, uh, processing times of 30 to 35 days for supplemental claims, anywhere from 10 to 15 days --
Ranking Member Richard Burr:  So is the VA official who talked to this Marine and told the Marine that they were six to eight weeks behind processing payments, was that bogus?
Curtis Coy: No, sir.  I don't think it's bogus at all.  There are some that take longer than others.  Uh, what I gave you was an average time, not the range of times.  We've had ranges much higher than that, as you might imagine.  We, uh, track these, uh, claims on a daily basis and so, uh, we take all of those kinds of issues --
Ranking Member Richard Burr: What do -- what do the Marines do, Mr. Coy? The school's working with them.  They're keeping them in.  He may be in school but he might be evicted from his place on a beneft that he -- that he's earned.  He deserves.  What are we -- what are we going to do?  I don't think -- And if I thought I was talking about an isolated case, I wouldn't  press this.  I don't think I am.
Robert Worely II: Ranking Member Burr, I would only say that when these -- when these come to our attention, uh, we find out what happened and we correct them as quickly as possible.  
Ranking Member Richard Burr: I'll make sure when you leave you've got this news article.
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