Receiving a VA debt collection letter can be stressful for anyone. If you owe a debt to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) due to overpayment in benefits, your benefits may be temporarily withheld or reduced until you pay off the debt.

Fortunately, there are legal protections and rights that you and your family can rely on for assistance. Read on to learn more about your rights and options when it comes to repaying veteran debts.

What Is VA Debt Collection?

VA debt collection refers to collection actions taken by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recover overpayments or to collect on debts owed to the VA by veterans of the various branches of the U.S. Military. You may owe a debt due to your participation in VA education, pension, and compensation programs.

VA debts may also be triggered due to paperwork errors. If your net worth, active-duty status, or dependents change, you may receive more benefit payments than you’re entitled to if you don’t report these changes to the VA.

If you don’t repay your VA pension debts, return your other benefit overpayments, or otherwise request help to mediate and eventually reconcile them, the VA can refer your debts to the U.S. Department of the Treasury after 120 days. The U.S. Treasury may also take collection actions, such as charging interest and fees, withholding your other state or federal benefits payments, and referring your debt to a debt collection agency.

[Quote:]  "If your VA benefits debt is delinquent for more than 90 days, interest will be charged on the past due balance as of the date of first delinquency.  However, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3717(e)(2), this interest rate cannot exceed six percent (6.00%) per year.”  –Brad Reichert

Understanding Your Rights as a Veteran

There are many safeguards in place to protect veterans when it comes to VA debt collection. For example, if you receive a debt collection letter from the VA and you think there’s an error, you have the right to contact them to avoid any unjustified collection actions. If you disagree with the VA decision, you also have the right to appeal the decision.   

The VA paused collection on all VA benefit debt from April 2020 to September 2021 to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collection actions have resumed since October 2021, but the VA continues to offer other debt-relief options.

If you owe debts other than what you owe to the VA, there are other federal laws to protect your rights. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) includes provisions like delaying, changing, or suspending your obligations when abroad or on active duty. The act can also cap interest rates to 6% on loans taken out before joining the military. Such loans and other debts are known and referred to as “pre-service obligations.” 

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act doesn’t have military-specific provisions, but it offers veterans the same rights as other civilian consumers when it comes to unfair debt collection practices.

VA Debt Collection Phone Number and Contact Information

If you need information or assistance with VA debt management, here are several ways to get in touch with the VA Debt Management Center (DMC).

You can check your debt balance and manage it online if you have a DS Logon,, or My HealtheVet account.

You can send a dispute letter online through AskVA or mail it to:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Debt Management Center

PO Box 11930

St. Paul, MN 55111

Another option to check your debt balance or get more assistance repaying your debt is by phone:

  • For debts related to VA health care copayment debt, call the Health Resource Center at 800-698-2411 or 866-400-1238 (Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM E.T.)
  • For debts related to VA benefits, call the Debt Management Center at 800-827-0648 (Monday to Friday, 7:30 AM to 7 PM E.T) or 1-612-713-6415 from overseas.
  • Call TTY: 711 if you have hearing loss.

Options for Dealing with VA Debt Collection

If you’re dealing with VA debt collection, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers many debt relief programs, depending on your financial situation and your debt amount.

Monthly Offsets

One of the easiest ways to pay off your VA debt is by offsetting the debt payments against your other current military benefits. You can ask for collection by offset if you receive education or pension benefits until your debt is paid off.

Call the Debt Management Center number we’ve listed above to see if this option is available for you, and ask for a reduced offset amount if it’s too high.

Repayment Plan

You can also ask the VA to set up a payment plan to make your debt repayment more manageable. If you can’t pay off the entire amount at once, the VA can help you set up a repayment plan with a fixed monthly payment each month.

Compromise Offer

Another option is to send a compromise offer to the VA if you owe a lot of debt and can’t repay the full amount. This will allow you to settle your debt for less than you owe. You can send a proposal, and if your repayment terms are accepted, you’ll need to make a lump sum payment to the VA within 30 days.

Given this short period of time before payment is due, if you choose to go this route, it is best to have your payment at least partially saved up in advance.


If you receive an overpayment debt letter, you can send a waiver request to the VA to cancel or forgive any overpayment debt. If your request is accepted, your benefits won’t be withheld. You’ll need to send the waiver request within 30 days of receiving an overpayment notice.

You’ll need to provide supporting documentation and reasons why your debt should be forgiven. Debt forgiveness is only granted if you can demonstrate financial hardship.

Seek Help for VA Debt Collection

If you’re dealing with VA debt collection, there are many debt management options as well as resources to help ease your financial problems. We recommend getting in touch with the VA as soon as possible for debt information and to explore your repayment options.

You can also get help from organizations such as:

  • Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
  • American Legion
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Army Emergency Relief
  • USA Cares