Education benefits for veterans delayed, adding to problems at VA

Veterans face delays when applying for education benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), making it more difficult for them to receive an education after leaving the military, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed last week.

The report, issued Wednesday, showed that veterans lack information on the timeline for receiving their GI benefits and face a backlogged call center at the Department of Veterans Affairs when they have questions, on top of delays in actually receiving the benefits.

The report comes as the VA has come under heavy fire for the massive backlog in veteran disability claims.

It took the VA 31 days on average to process a new application for GI benefits under the post-9/11 GI bill in fiscal year 2012, 8 days longer than the VA's goal, while it took the VA 17 days to process benefit payment claims, 5 days longer than the VA's target.

"Student veterans in most focus groups and most school officials told us that VA's delayed processing of education benefit payments can create or exacerbate financial challenges for student veterans as they begin their postsecondary education," the GAO wrote.

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