The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sometimes makes payments to individuals who are entitled to benefits from the department that exceed the amounts to which they are actually entitled. Under current law, those overpayments are treated as debts to the United States, and the recipient must repay them, regardless of whether the overpayment arose from their error or from the department’s error. VA notifies the individual of the amount of the outstanding debt, and the beneficiary may either pay in full, establish a repayment plan, or request a hardship waiver to reduce the amount of the debt. If a veteran does not respond to VA’s attempts to notify the veteran of outstanding debts, VA will notify credit reporting agencies of the debt.
H.R. 4360 would require VA to contact the credit reporting agency to correct any information on the beneficiaries’ credit report that was provided by the department in error. The bill also would require VA to change its information-technology (IT) systems to allow veterans to receive electronic notifications of debts and to review information on their dependents. Finally, H.R. 4360 would require VA to audit the frequency of departmental errors that result in overpayment of benefits to veterans, and the extent to which VA staff vacancies contributed those errors. VA would be required to submit to the Congress the results of the audit, a plan to prevent overpayments resulting from IT systems, and a description of the resources needed to implement that plan.