Linda Mallon, a retired Army Staff Sergeant, found her niche working with veterans and their families in Granbury. She is a former claims administrator for Blue Shield of New Jersey and later staff master sergeant looking after soldiers’ careers for over 20 years.
If anyone has found themselves in debt with the Veterans Administration, they know it can be stressful. People who receive VA benefits, especially pension recipients, can sometimes have limited means, which makes it difficult to reimburse an overpayment made by the VA. Most of the reasons for these overpayments are the VA’s lack of updates on dependent information, school attendance, or pension recipient income/medical expense changes, and the more we expect to update the AV, the higher the debt becomes.
It is very important to make sure to notify the VA as soon as a change occurs that may affect eligibility. If the VA determines that an overpayment has occurred, they will send the recipient a letter explaining their rationale for reporting an overpayment and the proposed action they will take. The beneficiary will have time to respond to the proposal with evidence to support their case. If the VA made a mistake or failed to consider the evidence, they will take that into account when reviewing the case. If the overpayment information was correct, the VA will refer the case to Debt Management who will send a letter to the beneficiary with the overpayment amount and an invoice with an option to pay a monthly amount up to until the debt is paid.
Understanding that we are currently living in difficult times, the VA has extended the deadline from 30 to 90 days to settle its debt before deductions are made. This gives the recipient and myself a chance to resolve the issue so that we can update records, challenge the proposal, or request a waiver.
Debt Management has also partnered with the VHA Behavioral Health Office to provide online resources on mental health and stress management and included this information in the letter.
Veterans also have the option of calling Debt Management at 1-800-827-0648 to request a temporary debt suspension through December 31 and request flexible debt collection relief. The VA has also launched a VA Debt Portal allowing beneficiaries to manage their debt online. The VA will not report a debt to credit reporting agencies until all available collection efforts have been exhausted and the debt becomes uncollectible, meaning they have tried all options but have not have not succeeded. The VA will also not report debts to these agencies for disabled veterans or those who receive free health care from the VA due to low income. If anyone should receive an overpayment letter from the VA, contact my office immediately. I have been very successful in working with debt management and in some cases, depending on the circumstances, I may be able to get full debt forgiveness.
The Hood County Veterans Services Office is located in the historic Courthouse on the Square, 100 East Pearl Street, Granbury, on the first floor behind the elevator. Our Glen Rose office is located in the Somervell County Annex on the Vine Street side. Please call for an appointment at 817-579-3292 so you don’t miss me.