Sep 27 2018
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, on Wednesday pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to fully award the housing allowances for more than 340,000 Forever GI Bill beneficiaries who were underpaid because of VA computer problems.
Veterans use their monthly housing stipend to pay for rent, utilities and food. In August, when new housing rates took effect, the VA’s IT system had not been updated causing it to underpay some recipients for their housing and placing unnecessary burdens on students. Boozman pressed the secretary on this issue and secured a promise that all eligible recipients who were underpaid will be paid in full.
When asked about the timeline for when those payments will be made and when the VA will have its system up-to-date, the secretary was non-committal.
“What is the plan and subsequent timeline for compensating those students who were underpaid?” Boozman asked the secretary.
Wilkie said the VA’s outdated computer system could not accurately implement changes to the housing allowance and didn’t estimate when the problem would be fixed.
“I appreciate Secretary Wilkie’s awareness of this serious problem, and his acknowledgement that it must be made right for our student veterans. I will be following up to get more assurances on when this will be fixed,” Boozman said. “We owe this to the men and women who have served our country.”
In 2017, Congress approved and the president signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (Forever GI Bill). The VA continues to implement these education benefit improvements designed to better serve veterans’ needs today.