Washington Update for 7/23/2019
P.L. 116-23 – Navy Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act
TREA continues to be briefed on VA’s implementation plan to provide benefits to these newly eligible veterans. TREA is advocating begin the processing of claims as soon as possible and not wait until January 1, 2020.
Budget and Debt Limit Deal Reached
Congress and the Trump Administration announced on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, that a two-year budget and debt limit deal has been reached. Speaker Pelosi hopes the House will vote by Thursday, July 26, before adjourning for the August recess. The Senate will be in session next week to cast its vote.
TREA supports Student Loan Education Debt Relief
Legislation in the House (H.R.3598) and Senate (S. 2049) would provide disabled veterans with student loan relief. Entitled the Federally Requiring Earned Education-Debt Discharges for Veterans Act (FREED Vets Act) the bill requires the U.S. Department of Education to automatically discharge federal student loan debt for eligible permanently disabled veterans. House Veterans Affairs Committee Vice Chair Connor Lamb (PA-17) and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (GA) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (RI) are leading the effort in Congress.
The U.S. Department of Education established a program with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in October 2018 to identify veterans who are disabled or unable to work. Under the current program, the Department of Education would notify veterans who are eligible for debt forgiveness of the opportunity to apply. This places the burden on the veteran to apply. The FREED Vets Act would automatically forgive these loans and eliminate the paperwork barrier that prevents eligible veterans from attaining student loan debt relief. According to the Department of Education more than 42,000 eligible veterans have been identified, yet only 20 percent of those eligible have applied for the program.
Contact your House and Senate Members and ask them to support H.R. 3598 and S. 2049.
DOD extends deadline to January 12, 2020 to transfer GI Bill Benefits to Family Members
Military personnel with more than 16 years of service will have an additional six months to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to family members, while Congress decides whether to remove the restriction on transfers. A new Defense Department rule originally proposed in July 2018 was set to take effect on July 12, 2019, limiting the benefit transfers to troops with at least six years of service but no more than 16 years.
The Pentagon extended the deadline until Jan. 12, 2020 for troops who have more than 16 years of service to give Congress time to discuss the House Armed Services Committee’s proposal to change the rule. Troops still must have served at least six years and be able to reenlist for four more years.
Prior to the July 2018 announcement, there were no restrictions on when servicemembers could transfer education benefits to family members after they’d served six years. Servicemembers who have received Purple Heart medals are exempted from the rule.