How to Ask the VA to Waive an Overpayment
If the VA decides they paid you too much money, they will send you a letter telling you that you've been overpaid. A few weeks later, you will receive your first notice from the VA Debt Management Center (DMC). This notice will tell you how much you owe the VA. If you receive benefits, the VA will plan to withhold the entire amount each month until it has recovered the overpayment.
Once you get the written DMC notice, you can file a written waiver request. Your waiver request is a request to cancel the overpayment. Essentially, you are telling the VA that if it withholds your benefits to recover the overpayment, you won't have enough money to pay for rent, food, or clothing.
You have 180 days from the date of the first DMC notice to request a waiver. But you should file your request as soon as possible and no later than 30 days from the date on the DMC notice. If you file within 30 days, the VA must continue to pay you your full monthly benefits while it's processing your waiver request. This usually takes several months.
If you file after 30-days but before 180-days, the VA will still process your waiver request, but it will begin to withhold all of your monthly benefit payments - you will get $0 a month in montly benefits when this happens. You can only avoid this by filing your written waiver request within 30 days of the date on the first DMC notice.
When you get the first DMC notice, you can also dispute the amount, or existence, of the debt. There is no deadline for disputing the existence or amount of the debt, but if you do so before the 30-day deadline, the VA will continue to pay you in full until the dispute is resolved.
What Should My Waiver Request Include
Your waiver request should include a statement telling the VA why you beleive it should cancel the overpayment. However, if a deadline is near, you can preserve your rights by sending in a two-sentence waiver request, and submitting the statement as soon as possible afterward:
The Debt Management Center sent me a notice, dated _________, stating that the VA has overpaid me $_______ in VA benefits. I dispute the existence and amount of the claimed overpayment, and I request a waiver of the full amount.
If possible, file your waiver request on VA Form 21-4138, Statement in Support of Claim. Otherwise, submit your request in a letter to the DMC. Remember to sign and date your request and include your full name, social security number and VA file number.
You may need to send your waiver request to the DMC by FedEx, UPS Next Day Air, or USPS Express Mail, to make sure it arrives before the 30-day deadline. If you have time, you should use USPS Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Using any of these methods will give you proof that DMC received your request.
Finally, the VA can't process your waiver request until you have also submitted a standard Financial Status Report, VA Form 5655. This form tells the VA what your income and expenses are. You'll use this form to show the VA that you need all of your current VA income to pay for your rent, food and clothing. If you can, submit this form with your waiver request. If not, submit it soon after.
You can mail all of these materials to:US Department of Veterans Affairs
Debt Management Center
P.O. Box 11930
St. Paul, MN 55111
For more information on VA Overpayments, please read the following resources
Swords to Plowshares created a comprehensive guide on VA Overpayments. This guide will tell you the factors the VA considers when deciding whether or not to grant your waiver request. You can find Swords to Plowshare's guide here.
The VA's website also contains helpful information on the overpayment process. You can find the VA's overpayment process here.
March 2014; updated January 2018