Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING URGES VA TO SUSPEND DEADLINES AND COLLECTION ACTIVITIES FOR VETERANS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
RICHMOND (April 3, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a multistate coalition of 22 attorneys general in submitting a letter urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to suspend benefits claims deadlines and debt collection activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the current public health crisis, unemployment has skyrocketed and veterans are losing their jobs, making it difficult for them to make debt payments. In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that the VA's continued enforcement of these deadlines and collections is putting veterans in financial danger and increasing their risk of losing essential VA benefits that they rely on for basic necessities – such as food and housing.
"People in Virginia and around the country have begun to feel the negative financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and that includes our veteran population,” said Attorney General Herring. "Our veterans have already sacrificed so much for our country and they should not have to worry about making benefits claims deadlines or debt payments during a time when they may find themselves in a tight spot.”
Almost half of all U.S. veterans are over 65 years old, and the aging population is at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering serious health consequences or dying. The attorneys general argue that because the VA is closed to in-person claims assistance, veterans are forced to face significant barriers on their own. These barriers include the burden of gathering evidence to meet claims deadlines; lack of access to electronic means of claims submission; and a lack of access to veteran's organizations and attorneys. Additionally, most of the country is subject to a stay-at-home order, making it nearly impossible for veterans to get the help that they need. The coalition urges the VA to suspend all claims deadlines and issue a moratorium on collection activities for benefits overpayments and other debt.
Joining Attorney General Herring in submitting today's letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
# # #