The VA is experiencing a larger than usual backlog of claims for veterans and dependents who are going back to school and using the GI Bill to pay for their education.
Most colleges began in August or September, but many veterans have yet to receive any payment of their housing allowance or their book stipend. Many veterans are reporting hardships with two months of housing payments being overdue, while landlords clamor for late payments.
Veterans are also reporting that schools are becoming increasingly impatient in waiting for tuition to be paid, and sending them past-due notices for the unpaid tuition.
GI Bill Backlog Is Larger Then Usual
As of Friday, September 28, 2018, there were over 226,000 veterans and their family members awaiting payments and decisions on their claims. This represents a 56.5% increase in pending workload as compared to this time last year.
VA says that original GI Bill claims are taking more than a month to process, 35.9 days. Supplemental claims are taking 17.6 days.
Original claims are those where the VA must determine a person's eligibility for the GI Bill as well as processing a payment. A supplemental claim is one that is usually for a veteran or dependent who has already been determined to be eligible for the GI Bill, the VA must just issue payments on it.
Mandatory Overtime For VA Workers
To solve the problem, VA says that all GI Bill processors at their three Regional Processing Offices will begin mandatory overtime through November 30, 2018. Each employee will be required to work a minimum of 20 hours of overtime per month.
Housing Allowance Still Not Being Paid Correctly
Adding to the delay is VA's implementation of the Forever GI Bill's provision to pay the Monthly Housing Allowance based on the actual location of the campus a veteran is attending, rather then the location of the school's main campus.
Previously, GI Bill users were paid their housing allowance based on the main campus of the school they were attending.
VA hasn't been able to implement software upgrades that will allow the housing allowance to be paid correctly. As a result of this delay, all veterans are seeing their Monthly Housing Allowance remain at 2017 levels until VA can make corrections.
According to veteran's groups, this means that more than 300,000 veterans are potentially being underpaid.
The VA has said it will pay back pay to everyone that is due it as a result of the legislative change.