South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Beneficiary Travel Now Paid By Direct Deposit
Effective May 13, 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs will institute mandatory direct deposit for beneficiary travel payments. As part of our commitment to providing you world class health care and services, and to comply with the Department of Treasury requirements to process payments by electronic fund transfer (EFT), South Texas Veterans Health Care System has already begun implementing these requirements. This change improves services, provides significant savings to your time by eliminating waiting in long lines, eliminates delays in check processing and ensures a safe and efficient way to receive payments.
You may wonder what’s changed for you? Cash and check payments for beneficiary travel are changing to EFT by direct deposit to your bank or credit union account. This change is already in effect, but is not mandatory. If you are a Veteran who currently received VBA benefits by direct deposit, you may have already been enrolled to receive your beneficiary travel payments by direct deposit through an automated process.
How will EFT improve reimbursement for you? EFT payment processing is more efficient and accurate, and waiting in long lines to receive cash payment is eliminated. Direct deposit provides a faster and more reliable method of payment than checks going through the mail. The Direct Express Debit card is a safe method of reimbursement, eliminating the need to carry cash and can be used anywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted.
What are some similarities and differences between direct deposit and debit card? With direct deposit, it has already been initiated with almost 1.2 million Veterans enrolled for Beneficiary Travel payments, while the debit card has been pilot tested and national rollout is expected in 2013. With both direct deposit and the debit card, the funds are credited to your bank/credit union within 1-2 business days. Direct deposit is used for any Veteran with a financial account who is not exempt from EFT and the debit card is used for any Veteran who declines direct deposit and is not exempt from EFT.
Are there exceptions for Veterans who need cash to return home or cannot manage EFT options? While the goal is to reduce cash, eliminate check payments, and move to alternative payment mechanisms, there will remain a small number of Veterans with an immediate need of cash. Cash will remain available to Veterans that meet Treasury exemption guidelines and, on a limited basis, to Veterans in order to return home as we implement this payment process change. However, they need to plan for this in the future and carry sufficient cash with them to return home.
A formal process is also being developed for Veterans to request a waiver from direct deposit and debit card. The allowable exceptions are limited and include:
• Individuals born prior to May 1, 1921, and who are receiving payments by check on March 1, 2013.
• Individuals who are ineligible for a Direct Express card, because the card is suspended or cancelled by the Financial Agent.
• Individuals who have filed a waiver request with the Treasury certifying that payment by EFT would impose a hardship because of the individual’s inability to manage an accounts at a financial institution or a Debit Card account due to:
- Mental impairment and the Treasury has not rejected the request
- Living in a remote geographic location lacking the infrastructure to support electronic financial transactions and the Treasury has not rejected the request.
So, how do you proceed? To avoid the line and save your time, here is what you’ll need to do:
1. Complete the Direct Deposit Enrollment Form. This form, once completed, will enable the VA to register your bank account information in the VA payment system so that your future claim submissions can be processed and sent to your bank account. Fill out the form completely to avoid processing delays.
2. When the form is complete, you can:
a. Bring the completed form to the Eligibility/Enrollment Office (N126) no or at your next appointment; or
b. Mail it to ATTN: EFT Travel; 7400 Merton Minter Blvd., Mail Code 136B, San Antonio, TX 78229.
Once your information has been received and direct deposit goes into effect, you will be able to simply fill out a voucher form at the Beneficiary Travel window, turn it in and payment will be electronically deposited into your bank account within three to five business days.
If you have any questions that have not been answered, we encourage you to contact the MAS Travel Section Office between 8 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at (210) 617-5300 ext. 15333.