On April 21, 2020, Representative Chris Pappas (NH), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, introduced H.R. 6590, to defer collection of certain VA debts during the COVID-19 emergency period.
Recently the VA suspended debt collections on newly created debts. Veterans and dependents with existing debt collections can only stop the collection process if they contact the VA Debt Management Center (DMC) directly. This would suspend debt collection for a limited period (60 days) and must be identified as COVID-19 related. However, many veterans with existing debt collections are not aware of this requirement.
In fiscal year 2018, VA sent over 600,000 debt and collection notices to veterans and families and thousands more are having their monthly payments impacted to payback these debts. Many veterans are on a 12 month repayment plan which can offset their entire monthly payment leaving them with no or very little compensation from their earned benefits. During the current COVID-19 crisis, these debt collections dramatically impact veterans and their families, which can negatively affect their ability to provide the basic necessities during the pandemic.
H.R. 6590, if enacted, would prohibit the VA from collecting a covered debt including offsetting any debt collection from monthly compensation payments during the COVID-19 crisis and would continue for 60 days immediately following the date of the end of the national emergency. The bill would also prohibit VA from applying any administrative costs or accruing any interest on the debts. H.R. 6590 would not require veterans to take any actions to defer the collections and would automatically be in place.
Consistent with DAV Resolution No. 108, DAV strongly supports H.R. 6590 as it will provide immediate financial relief to many service-disabled veterans, their families and survivors. Take action today and join us in fighting for those that fought for us.
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