The government shutdown has been a nightmare for many federal employees and those who receive direct government benefits. An estimated 800,000 federal government employees have not been paid during the shutdown. The New York Times reports that the typical government worker has gone without $5,000 in pay so far. Just last week, Trump recalled 46,000 furloughed staffers to work without pay.
One group has been hit particularly hard, and that group includes federal employees and their family members who have debts with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As no end seems to be in sight for the government shutdown, the VA has announced that those affected by the shutdown will be eligible for a temporary suspension of collection activity.
Additionally, any veterans who owes money to the VA based on over-payment of a benefit, including compensation or GI benefits, can also request the VA automatically suspend any collection attempts up to 90 days.
These types of stays of collection actions are normally only available during a bankruptcy automatic stay. The VA has said that veterans who are furloughed employees or family members of a furloughed federal employee can request this suspension of collection activity up until April 1, 2019.
If these individuals are interested in receiving a collection activity suspension, they need to prepare and submit a completed VA Form 5655 (Financial Status Report). This form can be submitted by mail, fax or electronically.
When completing the form, it is important that the individual completes all information fully and accurately. In block 36, indicate that you are a furloughed federal employee or a family member of a furloughed federal employee. Additionally, any veterans who has medical debts can also request a suspension of collection actions.
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