The VA Debt Management Center just announced it reduced call wait times by over 75 percent while also increasing calls taken by 40 percent from 2016 to 2018.
As part of the agency’s veteran-focused initiatives, they agency reduced call wait times from 21 minutes in 2016 to under 5 minutes during 2018. The initiatives include increasing staff levels, improving technology, and driving better employee development.
“The team at the DMC has enhanced services to our Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It’s our mission to take care of our Veterans, no matter what their needs are. DMC is in concert with our priority of improving customer service and will continue to gather customer feedback through direct feedback, surveys and outreach in FY19 to further enhance the Veterans’ experience.”
Debt Management Center Excerpt
According to the press release:
For the past three years, DMC received around 1 million calls annually with an average call wait time of about 21 minutes. In FY 2017, DMC launched a series of internal efficiencies and process improvements to enhance contact center capabilities.
Initiatives included enhancing staffing levels to meet demand, enhancing contact center technology, focusing on employee development and engagement, and implementing an automated 12-month payment plan.
These Veteran-focused initiatives represent a 79 percent reduction over two years to the average time for waiting and a 40 percent increase of actual calls taken. These are all indicators of successful initiatives providing a better experience for Veterans and VA employees.
The DMC’s inbound contact center serves as the central point for Veterans and their family members to make payment arrangements, or receive guidance regarding the collection process on overpayments which could include debts created from education or pension payments.
Debt counselors at the DMC work with callers in a professional and service-oriented manner to help them understand their options to address overpayments with Veterans either through extended repayment plans, the dispute process, compromise process or waiver process
DMC’s contact center provides debt counseling for the Veterans Benefits Administration, and consolidated collection services of non-health care debt for Veterans Health Administration and National Cemetery Administration, enabling these entities to focus resources on accomplishing their core missions.
DMC has provided centralized debt collection programs of Veteran benefit overpayments since 1975 and became a fee-for-service Enterprise Center in 1996.
This is great news for veterans trying to deal with the agency as a debt collector.
Lack Of Information
What is not great is the amount of information the agency publishes for veterans dealing with the Debt Management Center for the first time. The agency gives us little information about how to advocate for yourself and what elements of your fact set to focus on when creating your argument – – whether for a waiver or to plainly dispute the alleged debt in full.
They instead focus on how to pay and how to submit a waiver with no limited discussion of disputing the alleged debt in full.
Ever have a run in with DMC? If you have a debt story, I would like to hear it below.
Any idea how the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act might apply to VA or one of its contractors attempting to collect an illegitimate debt from a disabled veteran?