Helping the Veterans?
Helping the Veterans......
So many have applied for the new post 9/11 GI Bill with high hopes but something has gone terribly wrong. No communication, and not enough workers to handle all the claims. The VA is supposed to help the veterans during this process, and I understand tensions are high but when a veteran calls the education number they shouldn't be met with attitude. So who's helping the Vets during all this confusion? It's a sad case of hurry up and wait, which so many of us are doing. I like so many others have applied for the new gi bill and received my letter of eligiblity in Aug. Pretty fast considering the circumstances. I thought 'Hey I'm one of the lucky ones.' Spoke too soon. When I applied for my second semester the VA made an overpayment of tuition to my school of $11,744. They sent my case to the VA debt department and I was offset. Everything was taken, my BAH as well as my book stipend for DEC. I figured if I could get the school to send back the overpayment then I would start to recive my money again and they would owe me. (at least that's what I was told.) My school sent the money back immediately and I called the VA to verify it. They claimed that it hadn't been received but my school has given me the check number and told me it had been cashed. A month later my accont had a zero balance and the VA rep told me that my payment had been released. I thought great now I'll receive my payment. The first of the month comes and guess what, still no money. When I called this time they said I still had a zero balance and they would have to send in an inquiry to the regional office. I waited some more, finally I got tired of waiting and I called the VA debt dept and they said that I now had an additional debt of $4,000. Ok lets do the math.
My school tuition is $5,872. The VA sent them double that for tuition $11,744 which they received back $5,872 (minus the semester tution). I was offset $3,964 with an additional offset of $4,000
The VA now has $13,836 paid to them. Does this make sense. I pretty much paid my own tution and more. I have sent in a Notice Of Disagreement (NOD) a month ago but haven't received word yet. I guess I'm in for some more waiting.
My main purpose for this blog was to help my fellow soldiers with some information I have picked up along the way.
VA Education number
1-888-442-4551 if you call this number you run the risk of not getting through or you may experience extremely long hold times. If you have long distance you're better off calling this number 1-918-781-5790. I get through the first time every time and the wait is shorter.
I decided to call the NY Regional Office directly but I'll be honest they really weren't much help either. She looked up my info and told me she will send it to the financial department but I'll list those numbers anyway maybe you'll have better luck.
716-857-3263, 716-857-3140, 716-857-3145
If you have a debt call 1-800-827-0648
VA Website: www.va.gov
To contact the congressmen in your area click on the link below
I got this from facebook the post 9/11 GI Bill crisis center page. Follow the link to check them out. They have a draft letter you can use when writing your congressmen.
If you need help writing an NOD I have placed a sample letter below,
DATE: (upper right hand corner of your letter)
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Place the address of where your VA regional office is located
Attention: (Place the department you wish to contact) in reference to Veteran – your name here
Social Security #
Address on record:
Branch of service:
I am writing this letter regarding issues surrounding my (state your issue)
Please consider this my Notice of Disagreement. My first issue is (state issues clearly, if you have multiple issues make sure to list them as well. Make sure to be clear about what your problem is.)
If someone could review my file it would be greatly appreciated. I thank you in advance for your time with this matter.
http://www.warms.vba.va.gov/admin21/m21_1/mr/part1/ch05/ch05_secb.doc This link provides you with processing time, time limits to file your NOD it is a pdf. (Apparently now you no longer have a year to file an NOD. )
If you would like more information on NOD or would like to know what other veterans are saying regarding the issue please follow this link
I will update you on my situation seeing as I sent out letters to my congressmen, I've sent out an NOD as well as phoned the VA numerous times. (Something has got to give)
If you have any relevant information please feel free to post it or if you have something you would like researched contact me ASAP and I will try my best to get it.
OK here's the deal, after sending out all my letters about a month ago I received a call on Monday from the NYC mayors office. The woman I spoke to was very nice. She said she was calling me because of the email I had sent to Mayor Bloomberg (his message center for veterans can be found on his website) and that she was going to contact the VA to see what is going on with my benefits. Good news is that after all that time and all my benefits being taken the debt has been fully paid off and I received my BAH payment on the first of March. The VA officially owes me close to $5,000 in back pay for all the BAH they took but hopefully the woman I spoke to can help get all this situated. Contacting your government officials can help so don't hesitate.
Thankfully everything has been worked out and although I'm just begining to receive benefits on a regular basis I can't help but fear this problem may happen again. I spoke to a VA rep at my school and just so all the vets who are going through this know, if the VA does happen to overpay your school DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SEND THE MONEY BACK. The VA rep told me that this could actually seriously delay processing. From my own experience I know this to be true, and they still take it from your BAH. I wish all of you good luck.
It's been awhile so I thought I'd check on everything and see how everyone is doing with the changes that occurred with the post 9/11 GI Bill. I'm still here if there is anything you need help with or any questions you may have, feel free to write a comment and I'll try to get it squared away as quickly as possible. Be safe everybody.
I just wanted to check in and see how my fellow vets are doing. How are you handling the changes that were made? Do you think that the VA has managed to correct the frequency in which it makes overpayments to schools? I want to hear from you. Also if you're having trouble paying back a debt click the link below, it will take you directly to the VA website which will give you a list of options available to you. As always if you have any questions, concerns, or would just like to chat I'm here.