McSally bill modernizes VA IT systems to improve processing of veterans’ benefits

To help improve the delivery of benefits for United States military veterans who are students during the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Oct. 23 sponsored legislation to transfer federal pandemic-relief funds to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

“Our student veterans receiving benefits under the GI Bill have experienced disruptions to their education benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Sen. McSally said, who noted that the situation is largely due to an outdated information technology (IT) system within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

“As we work to combat the fallout of this virus, it is now more critical than ever that the VA modernize its system of delivering GI Bill benefits to our nation’s veterans,” said Sen. McSally. “My bill will do just that.”

Sen. McSally introduced S. 4852, which would make unobligated balances from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act law available to the VA, according to the bill’s text. 

Specifically, the VA Secretary would be permitted to transfer up to $198 million to the VBA’s General Operating Expenses account, and up to $45 million to its Departmental Administration for IT systems. Amounts transferred “shall be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, to improve the education systems of the” VBA, according to the text.

The bill would help modernize the VBA’s digital benefits platform to ensure timely, accurate benefits processing and delivery for student veterans, according to Sen. McSally’s office.

The bill has been referred to the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for consideration.