House Passes Rep. Susan Davis Bill to Ensure Veterans Receive Fairness in Housing Benefits
The House of Representatives passed legislation by Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53) to ensure fair treatment of veterans and their families receiving housing assistance related to their GI Bill benefits. Davis’s bill - the Reserve and Guard GI Bill Housing Fairness Act (H.R. 4312) - will allow continued housing payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs with a veteran’s GI Bill education benefits even when a Reservist or Guardsman is called to active duty. Currently, VA housing aid stops when they go on active duty.
The issue was brought to Davis’s attention by a constituent, a first lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, who was told to repay his housing allowance because of a glitch in a new law to prevent double dipping where a servicemember is getting two housing allowances.
“Our servicemembers should not be penalized because of an unintended consequence created by legislation passed by Congress,” said Rep. Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased to see my bill included in this larger bill to improve education benefits for our veterans.”
Under current law, the VA doesn’t pay a basic housing allowance (BAH) when a member of the guard or reserve is using their VA education benefits and then goes on active duty. However, in the instance of Davis’s constituent, the veteran had transferred his GI Bill benefits to his wife, as allowed by law. She received BAH from the VA while he was active duty but, because the orders were for less than 30 days, he was not getting a BAH from the Navy. Despite only receiving one housing allowance, the VA discovered the payouts and directed the veteran to repay, creating a debt of $6,000.
Davis’s bill will allow VA housing payments with GI Bill education benefits to continue as long as as the Guardsmen or Reservists are called to active duty for less than 30 days. Her legislation was included in the Protect the GI Bill Act (H.R. 4625), which passed the House unanimously.
Davis’s congressional office is currently working with the constituent to have the debt waived. If enacted, the Reserve and Guard GI Bill Housing Fairness Act will prevent instances of this happening to veterans in the future.