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House Passes Pappas's Legislation to Protect Veterans from VA Errors


Date: Sept. 23, 2020
Issues: Veterans

Today the House passed legislation introduced by Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), who serves as the Chair of Oversight and Investigations for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to reform the VA's debt collection process causing undue financial hardship for veterans.

Pappas introduced the SHIELD Act along with Congressman Max Rose (NY-11), following an alarming hearing that found the VA overpayment system generated and then collected $1.6 billion in debt from veterans in the last fiscal year.

These overpayments are a result of mistakes in disability payouts, changes in eligibility, or simple accounting errors which have resulted in financial difficulties for hundreds of thousands of veterans, especially for those living on fixed incomes. The Stopping Harm and Implementing Enhanced Lead-time for Debts for Veterans Act, or SHIELD for Veterans Act, seeks to remedy these alarming findings.

"Many veterans rely on their earned benefits to make ends meet," said Chairman Pappas. "It is unacceptable that the VA's mistakes or inefficiencies are hurting the men and women they are supposed to serve. I am proud to pass the SHIELD for Veterans Act which takes critical steps to reform the VA and ensure we are making good on the promises we have made to our veterans."

The SHIELD for Veterans Act will:

-Prevent VA from collecting any overpayment that was a result of a delay in processing by VA;

-Require that VA provide notice of any overpayment and its plan to recollect such payment at least 90 days in advance of beginning collection;

-Require VA to notify veterans of their right to dispute overpayment or to request a waiver of the debt;

-Require VA to submit a report to Congress within 180 days detailing its plan to improve the notification of overpayments and communication with veterans who receive overpayment.

Pappas has been leading the fight to overhaul the VA's debt collection process since he was elected to serve as the Chair of Oversight and Investigations for the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. Pappas led an investigative hearing, a bipartisan letter calling on the VA to change the VA overpayment system. Additionally, the VA heeded Pappas's call to suspend VA debt collections during the ongoing public health emergency.