By Debbie Gregory.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it is facing problems implementing some parts of the Harry J Colmery GI Bill, better known as the “Forever GI Bill”.
Recently separated veterans may be getting inaccurate information about their education benefits in the mail, potentially causing “mass confusion” among veterans about their eligibility due to outdated IT systems, Veterans Affairs officials admitted.
The Forever GI Bill, which was signed into law in August, not only removes the 15 year time limitation that newer veterans have to use their GI Bill, but it also gives back GI Bill entitlement to some veterans who were in schools that closed mid-term. The new regulation gives back any GI Bill that was used to take classes that resulted in no academic credit due to no fault of the veteran. This part of the law is retroactive to 2015 and affects over 8,000 veterans.
Although the VA has reached out to veterans eligible for this benefit, only about 250 of the affected veterans have applied for the restoration of their GI Bill.
Additionally, it extends benefit eligibility to more guard and reserve members, and it creates a new program for STEM students in addition to 30 other changes.
To meet the goals of launching the program, the VA will and spend some $70 million and hire 200 temporary workers to manually process claims until they can get their software changes implemented.
The VA is trying to avoid encountering problems like those that occurred back when the Post-9/11 GI Bill began in 2009. At that time, the VA got so backlogged in making payments they were forced to issue emergency checks of up to $3,000 to veterans who had waited months for their GI Bill payments.
The Forever GI Bill contains the most sweeping expansion of veterans education benefits in a decade. Most of the bill’s provisions go into effect Aug. 1, 2018.