Jim Absher is a benefits columnist for Military.com.
Updated May 4, 2022.
Some veterans have reported receiving confusing letters from the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding "a delay in receipt of mailed correspondence."
In the letters veterans are advised:
- If they received a letter from the VA between July 13 and December 31, 2021 and responded to that letter, no further action is necessary.
- If they received a letter from the VA which requested additional information, they will automatically be given an extra 90 days to respond or take action without any detrimental consequences.
- If they received a letter from the VA, but did not respond or take action within the original time frame, they should contact the VA so that "corrective action" can be taken to reconsider any claim decisions.
- If they are unsure, or believe they should have received correspondence regarding a claim for benefits but did not, they are advised to contact the agency at 800-827-1000.
In a December 2021 news release, the agency said that due to mailing delays caused by staffing and supply shortages with a private vendor, it extended 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.