Earlier this week Army Times reported that the VA was underpaying new GI Bill benefits.The VA had not increased the monthly living allowance to match the new military housing rates that changed on January 1st, as the law requires them to. After months of pressure from numerous groups including IAVA, the VA has announced that they will retroactively pay the higher living allowance rates.
IAVA has been spearheading this issue since January when we first heard from student veterans that they weren’t getting what they were owed:
“The VA lady told me that they had not updated the system to the 2010 BAH rates yet andthat we were still getting the 2009 rate. Is this correct??” – Scarlett (IAVA Vet)
We approached the VA numerous times and refused to back down. On January 16th, we broke the story by reporting:
"Although the new living allowance rates for 2010 were published… earlier this month and went into effect… on January 1st. … The VA is unsure whether they can modify their GI Bill payment system in time to handle the new rates and therefore are having “internal discussions” on when the new living allowance rates will come into effect. We are working closely with the VA on this issue and will keep you updated.”
Since January we have been working with the VA to develop a solution that would ensure all student veterans receive the benefits they deserved. And we pushed for a solution that did not further slow the delivery of GI Bill checks to student veterans this spring.
We are pleased that the VA has announced that they will pay student veterans retroactively for money they should have been receiving. However, IAVA is still waiting for a guarantee from the VA that they will not bill student veterans attending schools where the living allowance rates dropped in 2010.
Lastly, IAVA continues to be concerned that major policy decisions about the GI Bill are not publically announced. There was no mention of the issue on the VA’s GI Bill website nor on the VA’s GI Bill Facebook page. The only mention of this issue by the VA was a tweet on December 18th:"DeptVetAffairs:For GI Bill students: BAH rates will remain the same to begin the spring semester. Any changes won't happen until later in the spring."
A couple of ways you can help your fellow veterans and yourselves:
- Share your successes and problems with your NewGIBill benefit by visiting NewGIBill.org and posting to@NewGIBill. Because of IAVA members like Scarlett, who brought this problem to our attention months ago, IAVA was able to drive this fight for you.
- Learn more about the New BI BIll by watching IAVA members Marco Reininger testify before the Senate Veterans Services Committee this coming Thursday, April 21 at 9:30 am. More information here:Hearing: Implementation of the New Post-9/11 GI Bill - Looking Back and Moving Forward.