Military Advantage

Good-Bye Interval Pay, We Will Miss You

Many veterans using educational benefits recently received a notice from the Department of Veterans Affairs stating Interval Pay will cease August 1, 2011. And, there is a fair amount of confusion about who this applies to. Some veterans using Vocational Rehabilitation are being told by their counselor that the stipend cuts do not apply to them. The basis for this claim is that Chapter 31 is an "employment" program, not an "educational" program. Other veterans are receiving contradictory statements confirming that the VA letters are indeed telling the truth; we will not get Interval Pay after August 1. Here's the skinny so that you can plan your finances accordingly.

The recent "Improvements Act" for the Post 9/11 GI Bill needed funding. Congressmen had two choices to find the funding. First, pull the funds from Corporate Bailouts or TARP or somewhere else. Or, second, take the funds from the same group of people who stand to gain from the changes. Most veterans do not donate to PAC's or attend $50,000 per plate fundraisers, so you can image who the Congressmen turned to for the cash. A majority of the funding comes from cuts to other educational benefits. In large part, cutting Interval Pay resulted in a $2 billion win for everyone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Big banks still get to pay big bonuses, and veterans still get to go to school. [Insert inappropriate remark here].

Congress changed the language of Title 38 Section 3680. This section outlines how Chapter 31, 34 and 35 will pay veterans' stipends while enrolled in training or educational programs. Only emergencies and Executive Orders will allow Interval Pay, after August 1, 2011. The specific language of this change can be found at The Library of Congress in Section 206 of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act. Congress claimed it was concerned that veterans were running out of eligibility because of Interval Pay. But rather than extending benefits to cover the real amount of time it takes to get a degree, they cut the Interval Pay. Suddenly, $2 billion shows up to cover the new "Improvements." Magic. Brought to you by the CBO shell game on behalf of the American taxpayer, forever grateful to you for your sacrifices.

As for me, I would just like to say, "Thank you for the 'Improvements,' Congress." I will be sure to keep enough room on my credit card to pay rent next Christmas. Can't wait to see how you "improve" the disability compensation process. More information can be found at: www.disabledveterans.org.

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