The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it will resume collecting debts from overpaid veterans, ending the nearly 18-month-long suspension of debt collection put into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced in a Oct. 4 release.
All debt collection by the VA has been suspended since April 6, 2020, as a result of an executive order by then-President Donald Trump. That suspension was extended by President Joe Biden until Sept. 30, 2021.
Veterans also have been exempt from medical-care copayments for medications and services provided by the VA from April 6, 2020, until Sept. 30, 2021, as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
However, the moratorium on debt collection and the exemption of medical-care copayments have expired. This means that any medical debts incurred by veterans before April 6, 2020, will now be subject to collection. Also, any debts for benefits such as compensation, or GI Bill payments, are now subject to collection.
VA officials did not say how many veterans are impacted.
The VA has begun sending out debt notification letters to affected veterans and will withhold debts from benefit payments beginning Jan. 1, 2022, if veterans do not make payment arrangements before that date, according to the release.
Debt notification letters will include options to request debt relief for those who continue to need financial relief because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Options could include a repayment plan, compromise offer or waiver, according to the VA.
Veterans with more questions about medical or pharmacy debts should contact the Health Resource Center at 1-866-400-1238. Those with benefit-related debt can call the Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648 or visit the VA website.
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