VA is resuming debt notification to Veterans effective Oct. 1, 2021.
If you owe money to VA for an overpayment related to Veterans benefits, or for medical care and pharmacy debt, here is what you need to know.
VA automatically deferred collection on benefit debts created on or after April 6, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Benefit debts created prior to April 6, 2020, had collection deferred upon request. VA also paused all collection activity on debts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Treasury until Sept. 30, 2021.
Most VBA benefit debts are collected by the VA Debt Management Center (DMC). This includes debts for benefits, like compensation, pension and education. If VBA created a debt for you while collection was deferred, you likely received informational letters from DMC letting you know your debt existed, but you didn’t need to act until after September 30 unless you chose to do so.
What’s happening now
On Oct. 1, 2021, the DMC began sending debt notification letters, which include timelines for next steps. The letters will be sent in phases over a period of several months, so you may not receive your debt notification in October. If you requested DMC to temporarily stop your payment plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not automatically resume on Oct. 1, 2021.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and can’t repay your VA debt right away, there are a variety of relief options available, including:
- Extending repayment plans
- Requesting debt forgiveness through the waiver process
- Submitting a compromise offer to settle the debt for less than the full amount
- Requesting a temporary hardship suspension of repayment until September 30, 2022
What happens if you don’t contact DMC when you receive your debt notice?
If you are receiving VA benefits, VA will withhold money from your benefit payments to pay an outstanding debt. It is important to contact DMC once you receive your debt notification letter if the amount VA is proposing to withhold from your benefits doesn’t work for you.
Eventually, unpaid debts can become delinquent and subject to referral to the Department of the Treasury and/or Credit Reporting Agencies. Currently, DMC is continuing to pause new benefit debt referrals to the Department of Treasury or Credit Reporting Agencies to make sure Veterans have plenty of time to make payment arrangements or request relief. For any debts that were already referred before the pandemic, Treasury is resuming collection activities beginning Oct. 1, 2021.
If you need assistance with options for your VBA benefit debt, call the DMC at 1-800-827-0648 or submit your request online at https://iris.custhelp.va.gov/app/ask/. Veterans can also access benefit debt information, such as balance and debt letters at https://www.va.gov/manage-va-debt.
Medical care and pharmacy debt
The American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, included a provision that canceled copayments for medical care and pharmacy services received April 6, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021, and directed refunds to be issued.
To date, VA has canceled $880 million in copayments for over 2.4 million Veterans, issuing over $240 million in refunds to 1.5 million Veterans who made payments on charges established prior to the passing of the American Rescue Plan.
Collection of copayments for medical care and pharmacy services will resume on Oct. 1, 2021. October 2021 statements will show charges incurred for medical care and pharmacy services provided prior to April 6, 2020 and on or after Oct. 1, 2021. VA staff has completed copayment refunds for care provided April 6, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. VHA began sending statements for information only in July 2021 to keep Veterans informed of balances owed.
Debt relief options such as repayment plans, waivers and compromises are available. Veterans can click here for information or call 866-400-1238, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET to learn more.
Patient statements can be viewed online: https://eauth.va.gov/accessva/