President Donald Trump moved to adjust protocol in the Department of Education to help some disabled veterans have an easier time fully discharging their student loan debt.

The new plan will provide notices to veterans who qualify by teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The changes, when combined with a recent IRS law change, also make it easier for veterans to waive tax liability after receiving student loan discharge.

For many years, forgiveness of student loans for disabled veterans has been a confusing process, and the Department of Education provided no notice to veterans potentially eligible for a disability discharge. And, the discharge form language is not directly applicable to terminology used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

RELATED: Veteran Shocked When VA Lowers Rating From 70% To 0%

Presently, some disabled veterans are eligible for a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge so long as they have a total (i.e. 100%) disability rating but do not know they qualify or are not applying for the benefit because they do not know – – “tens of thousands” – – according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

Additionally, the application form is confusing.

The form says veterans deemed by VA to be “determined by VA to be unemployable due to a service-connected disability” can apply. If you call to clarify, the operator should inform you that the Department of Education considers this condition satisfied by veterans who show proof VA deemed them to a have a 100 percent disability rating.

Now, disabled veterans with a 100 percent disability rating (e.g. 100% TDIU, 100% scheduler, 100% Permanent & Total) can qualify for the loan but the language on the form does not make that very clear.

RELATED: Quick Facts About Qualifying For Voc Rehab

Apparently, the authors of the form did not contemplate that veterans with 100% scheduler or 100% Permanent and Total ratings are allowed to work while still receiving that rating, so hopefully Trump can have his team get that sorted out.

Most veterans read the form and erroneously believe they do not qualify, so be sure to call the operator about your possible discharge before you conclude you do not qualify.

That aside, the new plan not only increases notice to veterans to eliminate confusion but a recent change to the IRS code ensures veterans who receive the discharge will not have to pay tax on the forgiven amount.

RELATED: Can Working Cause Me To Lose My 100% Rating

Basically, the IRS considers the amount of the forgiveness as “income” and requires individuals pay tax on the amount forgiven. This, of course, is quite difficult for individuals who are unable to work, which is the stated requirement on the form. Previously, only individuals who are insolvent avoid paying the tax, which means your debt outweighs your assets.

The debt cancellation package including the IRS tax waiver means some disabled veterans will get more student loan forgiveness benefits than in the past, which is great news for those eligible for the benefit.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/17/trump-moves-to-cancel-student-loan-debt-for-disabled-veterans.html

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Cool Beans…but do not rely upon any VSO mad hatter or even the VA to properly interpret the language and requirements on form…I did this exact thing about 7 years ago but I pretty much had to do all the grunt work and multiple faxes and copies, and many calls to confirm then it was 6 months of silence before I got a letter from Dept. of Ed…nothing from the VA to confirm a damn thing…VERY stressful to any Veteran dealing with multiple chronic health issues….no funny hatters helping because they had no fucking clue about this when I asked back then on the way leaving VAMC, I thought to ask the piggy VSO mad hatters manning the big counter like one of their bars in their lodges, as I had read about this back then on ‘had it dot com’…

    …just as predicted on that great website for Vets, “had it dot com”, the VA never EVER volunteered this knowledge and piggy VSO’s had NO KNOWLEDGE of it…but it even existed back then, I did it…

    …with no helpof VSO’s or VA….thanks, Benjamin, for making this knowledge more available because the pigs are hiding their slop.

  2. Although I think this is great news for those that qualify, I also think it is a bare minimum benefit our government is finally providing those who qualify.

    Its unfortunate nobody gave a damn enough when this program was designed to make sure it was as streamlined and easy a process as possible. It makes me think its like other VA benefits. Designed to be bureaucratic and confusing so as to reduce the numbers greatly of those who might ever receive it.

    Good to see it moving in the right direction.

    Veterans need to hire their own lawyer to navigate the VA and receive whatever crumbs the VA chooses to give.

    Meanwhile, illegal aliens have massive programs funded by the government and administered by “religious” organizations that insure that illegal alien is as comfortable as possible in the housing provided and has any benefit possible available immediately.

    Thank you for your service.

    • If we only all could prove service connection with Lutheran Social Svcs. or it’s grand daddy wearing even larger ostentatious hats at the Vatican, Rome, then we ‘Christian Soldiers’ would certainly recieve all due benefits uncle sugar and VA keeps under folds of flubber. (it may also be important to be an imported burden)

      • I hear ya Nam. Each of these organizations receive an incentive (money, money, money, mooooonnneh) to “assist” these poor illegal aliens.

        Imagine how things would work if the government were required to pay someone a fee for each veteran they assist in getting the benefits they earned.

    • One of the basic fundamental flaws in the VA system is it’s user unfriendliness, the VA should have a law library just for veterans to use if they want to obfuscate and obstruct the intent of the law. They never volunteer information, one has to ask and that’s when the VA merry-go-round starts a turning, no one knows anything. To me VA employees are hired based on the fact that they don’t know to much about the system, and if they do know a little, they ain’t talking, at least not to us because we know how to add. I hope the dept. of ed. and the VA do the right thing and forgive the debt on “tens of thousands” of veterans, it’s the very least they can do after trying to send them to unaccredited schools, and worthless for profit institutions. Believe it when I see it start to happen. All veterans should have access to a lawyer, and a law library, or it’s pretty much mission impossible for an average veteran like myself. And I got to say thanks to Ben’s site, it’s good insightful info, I know I’m a lot more aware

  3. I graduated Madras Senior High as a White Buffalo many seasons ago. We had a grading system being an outskirts and Indian reservation school that made it possible for us rural kids to graduate. The system had three scores. We had T for tried. The next step up was TRH for tried really hard. The cream of the crop got AS for almost succeeded. Some kids, alas did not graduate if their final score earned them a DSUO for didn’t show up once. I graduated a proud T- and showed up way more than anyone else in my family ever had. I guess the White Buffalo smiled on me.

    When I asked both the college recruiter and the Marine Corps recruiter if I could join them and they learned my grades both laughed. .. however instead of slamming the door in my face like the college guy did the recruiter opened his door wide and said, step this way… the bonus was I never when into debt for college. T- is pretty smart, huh?

  4. Hi Ben,

    Good to see you just keep getting better and better at this. Your help and information has been invaluable.

    I haven’t taken any loans as I couldn’t afford to pay them back. I’m at 100% IU now, should I reach out to my school (currently attending under VocRehab) and take the loans they are offering? Might not be ethical, but I sure could use it. If I do this today, would I still be eligible for the forgiveness?

    • You are receiving disability at 100% IU and going to school under Voc Rehab which pays for all your expenses and even provides an additional Stipend.

      Then you are stupid enough to come here and ask if you should take out additional educational loans at your school with no plans of ever paying them back.

      That is more than unethical, it is illegal and called Fraud, you fucking moron!!!

      What VSO are you a member of?

      • Hey Fake Ass Name, it’s called sarcasm and a question isn’t fraud, fraud is an act. I’m sick of all you PTSD ass bangers and shithouse lawyers asking how to cheat everything else on the page, so I tried to stick you one in the eye before someone was serious about it. You think people in these programs can’t read dates? Fuck you and the horse you are still having relations with. Idiots with low IQs need to be barred from the internet. I’m done wasting time here.

      • Hey John Paul Berryhill,

        Did you happen to notice the date. I did. Given you are running a business where you consider yourself to be self employed. Did you remember to file your Taxes on April 15th?

        Also, just wondering how the VA feels about paying you disability at 100% IU while you are running your own business?

        Also was wondering, with your truly unethical behavior, which bogus school scamming the VA are you currently claiming to be attending?

      • Oh and before you respond. One strong word of advise.

        Never ever go into the woods and poke a bear with a stick.

  5. VA Crack Cocaine Dealer at Bedford VAMC has numerous prior arrests and convictions. Demone Coleman was arrested and charged with murdering a Brockton mother who was killed in a shootout outside of a city bar in 2002. But was later acquitted after a witness recanted her original testimony

    Then in 2006 he pleaded guilty to one count of simple possession of more than five grams of crack cocaine on a federal Charge. In a plea agreement where they dropped a trafficking Charge. But his sentence was reduced under the Obama Administration or he would still be in Prison. Additionally the original sentence called for a period of Supervised release that was canceled by the sentence modification under the Obama DOJ.

    Now he has been indicted in Us District Court in Boston on four counts of distributing Cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine. He was indicted Thursday on federal charges related to his alleged role in the sale of crack cocaine on the Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus in Bedford, prosecutors said.

    “Boston man charged with selling crack cocaine at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford”

    By Travis Andersen
    Boston Globe
    April 19, 2018

    Full Article At: “https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/04/19/boston-man-charged-with-selling-crack-cocaine-veterans-affairs-medical-center-bedford/5rdDEWkKIerJtMF0iImpxL/story.html”

    Addistional Sources:

    “Man acquitted of Brockton murder arrested again on federal drug charges”
    By Marc Larocque
    Enterprise
    Posted Dec 19, 2017

    “http://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20171219/man-acquitted-of-brockton-murder-arrested-again-on-federal-drug-charges”

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    Vs
    DEMONE COLEMAN
    CRIMINAL ACTION
    NO. 06-10181-WGY

    “https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mad-1_06-cr-10181/pdf/USCOURTS-mad-1_06-cr-10181-0.pdf”

    • More on the Drug Ring that was operating Bedford VAMC run by VA employees.

      “VA chief calls for Bedford hospital shake-up
      By Todd Feathers

      BEDFORD — Following a string of deaths and reports of retaliation against whistleblowers at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced Saturday that he has proposed demoting the hospital’s former director and initiated a search for a new permanent leader.

      The Bedford hospital is currently on its third director in little more than a year. Christine Croteau, the last permanent director, was removed in September 2016 due to a whistleblower retaliation investigation and an administrative investigation into whether she urged staff not to report patient deaths in the facility, according to VA documents.

      Karen Acerra-Williams, who took over as acting director following Croteau’s departure, was reassigned this summer, 10 months into her one-year posting. That leadership shake-up came as the U.S. Office of Special Counsel was investigating another potential case of hospital administrators retaliating against a whistleblower.

      “http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31431490/va-chief-calls-bedford-hospital-shake-up”

      ___________________

      HomeTodays HeadlinesStory

      Behind midnight escape, a botched VA probe
      Police told to leave theft suspect alone at Bedford hospital; Inspector General’s office faulted
      By Todd Feathers
      08/27/2017

      “BEDFORD — Shortly before midnight on Dec. 21, 2015, a gray SUV sped across a parking lot at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital toward a VA police officer, who drew his gun and shouted at the driver to stop.

      The vehicle swerved around the officer and took aim at a police lieutenant, who also unholstered his gun and faced down the SUV. The driver, allegedly a veteran and patient at the hospital named George L. Howerton, barreled narrowly past the lieutenant, jumped a curb, and sped off VA property into the night.

      The scene was described in VA records obtained by The Sun and interviews.

      Howerton, 48, made a clean escape that night and avoided being charged with stealing VA property, worth an estimated $80,000, for six months, even though VA police and the local Office of the Inspector General knew that he was living on the Bedford VA hospital campus after the Dec. 21 incident.

      VAPD senior staff ordered officers not to approach, much less arrest Howerton, in what some members of the department believe to be a concerted effort to cover up mistakes made on the case by the OIG.

      “You can’t just let people try to run police over and not charge him,” said one officer, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared for his job. “The OIG (agent) knew that if this went to trial his ineptness would show up and he’d be questioned on it.”

      ________________

      ______________

      Bedford, Lowell VA overdose deaths probed
      Alleged pervasive drug culture at hospital, residential facility

      By Todd Feathers
      11/28/2016

      “LOWELL — Two days after Christmas last year, Erin Holmes took her son Matthew and another veteran, Edward Kalisiak, to see the newest Star Wars movie.

      The two men weren’t close friends — Kalisiak, a 36-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, was 14 years Holmes’ senior — but they were part of a tight community formed around the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’s Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford.

      At the time, Matthew Holmes, who had served with the U.S. Army in, was living in the Crescent House, a VA housing facility in Lowell for veterans struggling with addiction and homelessness. Kalisiak, who was fighting his own battle with drugs, was friends with Holmes’ roommate and often visited their apartment.

      “I felt so safe with (Matthew) there,” Erin Holmes said of the Crescent House. “And to have that feeling — now, I’m sick to my stomach.”

      Within two months of that trip to the movies, both men would be dead under circumstances that have attracted the attention of federal investigators.

      Matthew Holmes overdosed Jan. 22 in the bathroom of his Crescent House apartment. It took VA staff at least seven hours to realize something was amiss and find him, Erin Holmes said.

      Thirty-four days later, Kalisiak injected a fatal dose of fentanyl in the locker room of a dormitory on the Bedford hospital campus.

      Drug-related deaths are tragically common among veterans, who fatally overdose at double the rate of the general population, according to a 2011 VA study.

      But Holmes’ and Kalisiak’s deaths have taken a darker twist: They are now tied to a criminal investigation, led by the VA Office of the Inspector General, into drug dealing by a ring of employees and patients at the Bedford hospital, according to records obtained by The Sun and sources close to the investigation.

      A spokesman for the OIG said the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations.

      One source told The Sun that supervisors at the hospital had been warned that at least one employee was involved in selling narcotics and had taken no action. That source and others who spoke to The Sun asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to discuss the investigation.

      In an interview, top VA administrators said they have not received any credible reports of employees distributing prescription or illicit drugs.

      “That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” said Karen Acerra-Williams, the hospital’s acting director. “If that is true that’s very concerning. We take this very seriously, there’s zero tolerance amongst employees for this type of behavior. We do take a different approach with our veteran patients, but with (employees) there is zero tolerance.”

      Acerra-Williams took over the Bedford job in September after Christine Croteau, the previous director, was suddenly reassigned to Washington, D.C. Acerra-Williams had been working as deputy director of the VA Boston Healthcare System.

      The OIG has kept the hospital’s administration and the VA police department, which has primary jurisdiction over the Bedford campus, in the dark about the investigation, according to the sources. The FBI and local law enforcement are assisting the OIG, they said.

      In 2012, five veterans, including one Bedford VA hospital employee, were convicted of selling cocaine and other drugs to patients seeking addiction treatment.

      The current investigation involves more people, the sources said, and has shed light on a widespread culture of prescription pill-swapping and illicit drug dealing on VA property that some employees believe mid-level hospital management turns a blind eye to.

      That culture is particularly prevalent at the Crescent House, according to current VA employees and former residents of the facility.

      “It’s unfathomable that that’s a treatment facility,” said one hospital employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

      Inside Crescent House

      The Crescent House is designed to be the final stop for veterans In the Bedford VA’s addiction-treatment program. The 42-bed, red-brick building is nestled between Gorham and Central streets.

      Crescent House residents work entry-level jobs at the hospital while they are in the program. They receive government vouchers for their apartments, where they sleep two-to-a-room.

      A director and trained case managers oversee the Crescent House from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. most weekdays. At night and on weekends the only authorities on the grounds are resident managers — veterans who are allowed to stay in the program past the usual one-year limit and who are often in recovery from addiction themselves.

      Drebing said resident managers have demonstrated a commitment to sobriety and are trained for emergency situations and other problems that may arise.

      Former Crescent House residents said that during their stays it was common knowledge that some resident managers were actively using drugs or alcohol. At least one was kicked out of the facility after he was caught using heroin and hypodermic needles were found in his room, they said.

      When veterans enter the Crescent House, they are required to agree to a 26-page booklet that lays out the program’s rules, including random urine and Breathalyzer tests, random room searches and a strict policy of signing in and out of the facility.

      The former residents said their rooms were rarely, if ever, searched and other rules were largely ignored. The former residents requested anonymity because of the illegal activities they described, or because they work with veterans who are still in the Crescent House program.

      A schedule of who must submit to a “random” urine or drug test is posted in the house daily, according to interviewees and the Crescent House’s own rule book. The veterans can choose when to take the tests from 5 to 9 p.m. on that day. Resident managers, not VA staff, administer the tests.

      One veteran who stayed in the Crescent House for almost a year said residents who were friendly with the resident managers could often delay or cheat on their tests. He said he was able to fake clean urine tests for a month at one point before he eventually tested positive. He was allowed to stay in the program until he failed a second test, he said.

      While the Crescent House bills itself as a sober-living facility, residents are allowed to take drugs prescribed to them by VA doctors. The most common drugs include Suboxone, an opioid used to wean patients off heavier drugs like heroin, and Gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug that is increasingly abused for recreational purposes.

      “(Residents) can do whatever the (expletive) they want there,” another former Crescent House resident said. “They’re in there selling their Suboxone and Gabapentin … they get nights off on Friday and Saturday and drink and come back and nothing happens. There’s no success there. As an addict you have no defense against that. When you come into that environment, you’re going to get high.”

      Relapse

      On Sept. 30, 2015, Matthew Holmes relapsed, his mother said. His family sent him to a private detox, but instead of pursuing treatment outside the VA system, Holmes fought to get back into the Crescent House.

      At first, it seemed like a bump in the road to recovery. But Holmes began to complain to his mother that other Crescent House residents were openly using drugs. He didn’t feel safe there, and they made plans to get him out.

      Full Article At: “http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_30607768/bedford-lowell-va-overdose-deaths-probed”

    • The Drug dealing at Bedford has been a major problem going back for more than a decade.

      Here is another DOJ press Release from back in 2013 about prior members of the drug ring that were convicted.

      Department of Justice
      U.S. Attorney’s Office
      District of Massachusetts
      Friday, January 18, 2013

      “Six Veterans Convicted And Sentenced For Selling Drugs At VA Medical CenterFinal Defendant Sentenced Today”

      “BOSTON – The final defendant, charged last year with five others, has been sentenced for his role in distributing controlled substances at the VA Medical Center in Bedford.

      Steven Jakaitis, 50, of Lowell, was sentenced today by Judge Richard Stearns to 15 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In July 2012, Jakaitis pleaded guilty to distribution of buprenorphine and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.

      In January 2012, Jakaitis was charged along with David DeJesus, 52, of Lowell; Scott Houtchens, 50, of Lowell; David Porterfield, 45, of Saugus; David Robson, 53, of Tewksbury; and Allen Nickerson, 52, of Dorchester, for distributing controlled substances on the VA Medical Center’s Bedford campus. The VA Medical Center in Bedford provides multiple services to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including alcohol and drug abuse/addiction rehabilitation services.”

      Full Press Release At: “https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/six-veterans-convicted-and-sentenced-selling-drugs-va-medical-centerfinal-defendant”

  6. It truly is kind of bazaar the kind of sentences that are given to VA Employees for Drug Crimes. Take the Former Chief of Staff at the Martinsburg VAMC who was convicted for stealing 5,000 micrograms of fentanyl at the hospital.

    His Plea Agreement contained the provisions that he would only be charged with one count of acquiring fentanyl by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge for 1,900 micrograms. Sixteen additional counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Also, The prosecution agreed to not force Bochicchio to relinquish his Maryland and Pennsylvania medical licenses and certificates, and the plea agreement also doesn’t prohibit him from working in a doctor’s office or being associated with a medical practice.

    Regarding the allegation to which Bochicchio entered a guilty plea, Beltran testified that 100 micrograms of the powerful painkiller was “pulled” on March 1 after anesthesia had ended for the patient who was to receive the medication.

    Nursing documentation also indicated that the patient’s pain score was zero, Beltran said.

    Bochicchio, who was hired as the medical center’s chief of staff in October 2016, was relieved of his duties June 2 and no longer is with the Department of Veterans Affairs, a hospital spokesman said.

    The prosecution alleged that Bochicchio obtained fentanyl multiple times in the first quarter of this year by entering patient information and a specific quantity of the drug to be used in medical procedures at the hospital, court records said.

    The defendant didn’t intend to administer fentanyl in the procedures, records said.

    Fentanyl is a painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and often is mixed with heroin to lower a drug dealer’s production costs.

    In January 2016, the Beckley (W.Va.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced on its Facebook page that Bochicchio was assigned to a 90-day detail as the facility’s acting director.

    The announcement noted that Bochicchio is board certified in anesthesiology and critical-care medicine, and has more than 25 years of commissioned service in the Army National Guard.

    His service included five years on the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff, where he served as the first joint staff surgeon.”

    Source: ” Martinsburg VA ex-chief of staff enters plea to taking fentanyl”

    Matthew Umstead
    Oct 18, 2017

    Full Article At: “https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/tri_state/west_virginia/martinsburg-va-ex-chief-of-staff-enters-plea-to-taking/article_929eafa7-c7d8-56fa-95ac-d5a4bed4c594.html”

    • Batshit crazy sleuthing, Seymore Klearly. Careful though, once you post an article about crackheads at the VA, the VSO crackhead trolls come on here and embarrass themselves.

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