ORANGE — VA news release December 20, 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs are attempting to eliminate paperwork and allow more VA staff to focus on eliminating backlog. For widows/veterans that apply for pension benefits and report the yearly medical expenses, the Department of Veterans Affairs in an attempt to cut the backlog (500,000 claims daily) are eliminating the need to report these expenses with computer matching with IRS and Social Security. However, for those veterans/widows that are slightly over-income this can be a problem. If a widow or veteran is on Social Security the VA is going to computer match IRS and Social Security for income verification so without the annual income (Eligibility Verification Report) done in January of every year, this can mean a cut in benefits. Therefore, widows/veterans need to complete this report every year in order to maintain their pension benefits and prevent possible overpayment. (Pension is based on annual income). If you have not completed your annual medical expense report, contact your local veterans service office.
In related news, the VA Star, (a newspaper by Department of Veterans Affairs medical center), is notifying veterans of the change in processing of travel pay reimbursements. October 1, 2012, the Michael Debakey VA Medical Center transitioned to electronic processing of travel reimbursement. Veterans now must submit an electronic funds transfer or direct deposit for the travel pay. Because the VA is requiring direct deposit for travel pay, those veterans that have not completed the process will wait longer for the reimbursements. The Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) forms are available in a kiosk between the Patient Travel Office and Agent Cashier on the 1st floor of the Houston VA hospital. If the veteran has access to the internet, EFT can be set up on the VA medical Center’s website, www.houston.va.gov.