Jim Absher is a benefits columnist for Military.com.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is changing some of its rules as a result of slow mail service.
In a Tuesday news release, the agency said that because of mailing delays caused by staffing and supply shortages with a private vendor, it will be extending the time limits some veterans have to reply or take action to an official notification regarding benefits applications or decisions.
According to the release, veterans will not be penalized if they do not respond or react in normal time limits to certain notifications, such as making an election of benefits, reporting to a scheduled compensation examination or notifying the VA of any changes to their situation.
Normally, veterans who do not respond to the VA in a timely manner or attend a scheduled medical examination can see their benefits terminated, in some cases retroactively, causing them to owe large amounts of money to the government.
As a result of the current delays, VA is extending its normal response time limit by 90 days for most veterans benefits letters. Any veteran who was mailed an action letter from July 13, 2021, through the end of the year automatically will receive the 90-day extension.
The VA said the Government Printing Office, which hired the private contractor, is working to address and end the delays. Veterans can contact the VA at 800-827-1000 with any questions.
Veterans can see their pending claim status, payment information and copies of letters and decisions online by visiting the VA website and signing in to view their account.
-- Jim Absher can be reached at email@example.com.