Delays in processing veteran’s benefits have led to overpayments of $4.5 million through February 1, 2018, and veterans who have received these overpayments will have to pay the money back. According to an audit, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) wasn’t adjusting compensation benefits in the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program in a timely manner, leading to duplicate payments.
The VBA’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) and Compensation Service did not have a timeliness standard for processing benefit adjustments.
In fiscal year 2017, the total number of participants in the DEA Program was 100,275 with benefits received totaling more than $553 million. The program “provides monthly payments for education and training to dependents and spouses of veterans who have permanent and total service-related medical conditions and receive compensation at the 100 percent disability level.” Disabled veterans can also receive benefits for any children they have attending school between 18 and 23 years old. However, veterans can’t receive an additional allowance while dependent children receive DEA benefits, simultaneously.
The report found that during the 2017 academic year, 1,300 of 1,900 veterans received the additional school child allowance while their dependent received DEA benefits. If the VBA was to continue the overpayments, the report estimates that $22.5 million would have been paid out erroneously over a five-year period.