Pappas Bill To Reform VA Debt Collection Passes Committee with Unanimous, Bipartisan Vote
Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) announced that his legislation to protect veterans and reform VA debt collection passed a crucial House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs vote with unanimous, bipartisan support.
Pappas introduced the Stopping Harm and Implementing Enhanced Lead-time for Debts for Veterans Act or the SHIELD for Veterans Act, last fall with Congressman Max Rose (NY-01), a combat veteran, following an alarming hearing that revealed the gross inefficiencies in the VA and the financial hardship such issues have created for veterans.
“I am very pleased the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed this legislation with a unanimous, bipartisan voice vote, underscoring the importance of this issue and the urgency with which Congress must act to reform this system and protect veterans,” said Congressman Pappas. “The efforts of members of both parties to improve and pass this bill has once again shown that we can come together in a way that honors our veterans.”
The VA overpayment system generated and then collected $1.6 billion in debt from veterans in the last fiscal year. These overpayments are often a result of mistakes in disability payouts, changes in eligibility, or simple accounting errors which have resulted in financial difficulties for hundreds of thousands of veterans, especially for those living on fixed incomes. The Stopping Harm and Implementing Enhanced Lead-time for Debts for Veterans Act, or SHIELD for Veterans Act seeks to remedy these alarming findings.
The SHIELD for Veterans Act would:
- Prevent VA from collecting any overpayment that was a result of a delay in processing by VA;
- Require that VA provide notice of any overpayment and its plan to recollect such payment at least 90 days in advance of beginning collection;
- Require VA to notify veterans of their right to dispute overpayment or to request a waiver of the debt;
- Prohibit VA from charging interest or administrative costs on debts relating to disability compensation, pensions, or educational assistance;
- Require VA to submit a report to Congress by May 2020 detailing its plan to improve the notification of overpayments and communication with veterans who receive overpayment.