U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Tuesday he will introduce bipartisan legislation to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay benefits to student veterans who have been shorted because of the VA’s information processing and accounting difficulties.
“The VA let these veterans down and this cannot be tolerated,” the Colorado Republican said in a statement. “First, the VA made a mistake and did not properly pay student veterans the money they are entitled to; and now the VA is failing in their responsibility again by not providing a plan to pay those students back quickly.”
Gardner and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are co-sponsoring the Fix Immediately Outstanding Underpayments for Student Veterans Act, which would establish a VA commission to audit monthly payments to student veterans and require that those who have been underpaid are made whole.
The VA hasn’t been paying some student veterans the full benefits they’re entitled to under a 2017 law that boosted benefits and changed the way certain housing payments are calculated.
VA officials had been telling congressional staff that they wouldn’t make retroactive payments to veterans who were paid less than they were owed, NBC News reported last week. But VA Secretary Robert Wilkie later insisted the government will set things right once it gets its systems in order.
The Gardner-Jones bill also would prevent the VA from taking back money it overpaid in error.