Newsletter

March 2019

Vets Views

Page 3 

 

Retirement Services Officers (RSOs)

Do you have questions on benefits, SBP, Retiree Appreciation Days or anything else retirement-related? Then contact the RSO for your area or go to the Army Retirement Services website http://www.armyg1.army.mil/retire (Note: That’s the number 1 after the g).

Sister Service Retiree Publications

Air Force Afterburner: http://www.retirees.af.mil/afterburner/

Coast Guard Evening Colors: http://www.uscg.mil/ppc/retnews/

Marine Corps Semper Fi: https://www.manpower.usmc.mil, then click on “Semper Fidelis Online” under “News and Features” Navy Shift Colors: http://www.npc.navy.mil/ReferenceLibrary/Publications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 19, 2019

VA publishes interim final rule on cash-out home loans to further protect Veterans

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it has published an interim final rule relating to VA-guaranteed cash-out refinance loans to further protect Veteran home-loan borrowers from predatory lending practices.

This rule implements certain provisions of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, and provides new regulatory safeguards relating to VA-guaranteed cash-out refinance loans. Such loans generally allow borrowers to convert home equity into cash.

In many cases, the principal balance of the new refinance loan is larger than the payoff amount of the loan being refinanced. This means the Veteran will generally receive some amount of cash at closing. The cash can then be used at the Veteran’s discretion to pay off debt, fund education, make home improvements and more.

VA’s cash-out home-loan program can also be used to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA-guaranteed loan. Certain borrowers can use VA-guaranteed cash-out refinance loans to borrow up to 100 percent of the value of their home.

“VA has taken significant steps to make the home-loan benefit the most competitive loan program available to Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We want to ensure the home-loan program remains strong, attractive and accessible to all who are eligible, while creating a framework for lender accountability to Veterans and taxpayers.”

The rule will help protect Veterans from predatory refinance practices and minimize risk to taxpayers and the secondary mortgage market.

For example, the rule specifically requires that lenders disclose clearly, both at the time of application and again at closing, a plain comparison of the existing loan’s cost with that of the new loan. These disclosures will help Veterans understand the impact of the refinance loan. This is in line with VA’s current policy on Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans.

Further, the rule imposes loan seasoning and “net tangible benefit” standards. To meet the seasoning requirement, at least 210 days must pass and six monthly payments must be made prior to refinancing an existing loan. The cash-out refinance loan must also provide the Veteran with at least one of eight “net tangible benefits” defined by VA in the rule.

Since 1944, VA has guaranteed over 23 million home loans worth more than $2 trillion. Veterans with questions about the VA Home Loan Program should call 877-827-3702. For more information on the VA Home Loan program, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 19, 2019

                                                    

VA’s Appeals Modernization Act takes effect today

New law streamlines department’s current claims and appeals process for Veterans

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has implemented the Veterans Appeals

Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law Aug. 23, 2017, and represents one of the most significant statutory changes to benefit Veterans in decades.

“This is a historic day for VA, its stakeholders and, most importantly, for Veterans and their families,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“The implementation of the Appeals Modernization Act comes as a direct result of collaboration among VA, Congress and Veteran Service Organizations to deliver on Veterans’ longstanding desire for reform of the legacy appeals system. Beginning today, Veterans will have greater choice in how VA reviews their disagreement with a VA claims decision and enjoy timely resolutions of disagreements through a streamlined process.”

Effective today, Veterans who appeal a VA claims decision have three decision review options:

Higher-Level Review, Supplemental Claim and Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

In the Higher-Level Review option, a more experienced adjudicator will conduct a new review of the previous decision.

Veterans who select the Supplemental Claim option may submit new and relevant evidence, and VA will assist in developing new

evidence under its duty to assist.

If Veterans appeal a decision to the Board, they can choose one of three dockets: direct review, evidence or hearing.

VA’s goal is to complete Supplemental Claims and Higher-Level Reviews in an average of 125 days, and decisions appealed to the Board for direct review in an average of 365 days. Under the legacy process, decisions averaged three to seven years.

VA remains committed to reducing significantly the inventory of legacy appeals. VA’s fiscal year 2019 budget included funding for 605

additional appeals employees, which VA used to establish two new Decision Review Operations Centers at the St. Petersburg, Florida, and Seattle, Washington, regional offices. The former Appeals Resource Center in Washington, D.C., was converted to a third Decision Review Operations Center.

For more than 18 months, VA has worked toward full implementation of the Appeals Modernization Act, but reform has been a goal for VA and its stakeholders for years. In March 2016, VA sponsored an “Appeals Summit” in which VA, Veterans Service Organizations, Veterans advocates and Congress worked together to design a new appeals system. The summit resulted in the drafting, passage and implementation of the Appeals Modernization Act.

For more information on Appeals Modernization, visit http://www.va.gov/decision-reviews.