Every day, I get emails from frustrated veterans trying to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you have been using your veteran education benefits for any time at all, then you know that it can take the VA eight to ten weeks to deposit your first monthly housing allowance payment into your account or for it to show up in your mail box.
In defense of the VA, they are getting better. Since implementing their Long-Term Solution software package, the wait time has dropped. According to VA itself, the average original claim (what you submit when first applying for GI Bill) eligibility wait time is 24 days. However, that doesn’t mean you will see your money in 24 days, but it does get you past the first hurdle – if you are eligible for benefits or not. If you submit a supplemental claim, (a claim after you are already in their system), the wait time is down to six days.
While this is a significant drop from what it was just one year ago, there are things within your control that can prevent your claim from processing, and that just adds more time on the clock before you see any money.
We all “bad mouth” the VA for their inefficiency, but did you know that 50 percent of claims submitted are missing information that either the veteran or school failed to submit? And guess what happens to your claim while the VA is waiting on that information? Yep, it sits until they receive what they need and get your claim back into the processing queue.
Because the trigger to processing a claim starts with your school sending in your Certificate of Enrollment for you, one of the best friends on campus should be your school VA Certifying Official. They are your direct link to the VA; because they have ties to the VA and they can “grease the skids” and make things happen quicker. So to minimize unexpected complications that adds emotional and financial stress to your life, consult (frequently) with your Certifying Official.
For your part, when you submit a form or other correspondence to the VA, make sure you give them everything they ask for (and need) to process your claim the first time. If you don’t, then really whose fault was it that your money is delayed? When it comes to Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, work smarter, not harder.
Photo courtesy Fort Rucker