Posted: Jul 21, 2013 7:41 PM by Luke Lyddon, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Jul 22, 2013 10:32 PM
COLUMBIA - A retired Air Force veteran said a new direct deposit program at the VA Medical Center is creating long delays in payments that reimburse him for the cost of getting to the center and back. The VA said the problem reported by DJ Roberts is rare.
The VA began implementing Treasury requirements to process beneficiary travel payments by electronic funds transfer (EFT), effective June 3. But Roberts said the program is poorly designed and the center is five payments behind.
Some veterans received delayed payments and some of them have not received payments at all, Roberts said. "And the biggest complaint was that when they did receive the payments, they had no idea as to what visit to the VA facility it was for."
"The system, the way it is designed at the present time, when you click on the electronic funds transfer portion of your bank statement, it pulls up a box," Roberts said. "And within that box is a category of information with your name, transfer number and more, but there is no reference to the date you were at the VA facility and secondly, what facility that was."
Roberts said he is working with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), who is initiating a congressional inquiry.
But Supervisor of Patient Benefits, Heather Paxton, said she thinks this is not a major issue.
"I have had some complaints, but if you look at the overall majority of the veterans compared to those who are having issues, we have a very small minority that are actually having issues with this process," Paxton said.
Paxton said change is never easy, and the VA wants to make sure this transition to the new program is positive for the veterans. She said the VA will work with veterans daily to try to figure what is going on with the new system and delayed payments.
Roberts said the Treasury Department in Austin, Texas is too slow to process the payments.
"Many of these people depend on those travel payments to be made in a timely manner and that is not happening."
Some veterans get paid 41.5 cents per mile to travel from their place of residence to the VA medical facility and back, and are compensated based on how far they traveled.