As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the world, U.S. veterans, their families, and caregivers are experiencing economic hardships as a result of the ongoing health crisis. After President Biden’s January 22 Executive Order to provide economic relief for Americans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is leading the way in addressing hardships the veteran community faces as a result of the pandemic.
There are unique challenges for veterans when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, this pandemic has left many former servicemembers feeling isolated and disconnected, with 61% reporting that they felt disconnected from friends, family, and community since the start of the pandemic.
The Associated Press reported in September 2020 that military suicides increased as much as 20% compared to the same period in 2019. With increasing mental health struggles, veterans should not have to bear the burden of pandemic-related financial troubles as well. It is for these reasons that the VA is taking steps toward lessening the financial burden for former servicemembers and their loved ones.
Effective January 29, the VA extended the existing moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until March 31, 2021, thereby extending relief on properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans. There are also resources available for VA borrowers experiencing financial difficulties. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding VA home loan policies and answers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
Your health and safety are the top priority if you have been affected by COVID-19. Once you and your loved ones are cared for, you should reach out to your mortgage company as soon as possible. Your mortgage company is there to help you and offers free assistance, so do not feel embarrassed or worried to let them know about your financial troubles.
A forbearance is a one-month period or longer where a mortgage servicer agrees to take reduced payments or no payments on a loan. During this period, your mortgage will still accumulate interest but will not incur late fees or other penalties. For more information, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a video on how a forbearance works under the CARES Act.
The existing foreclosure and eviction moratorium on federally-backed loans, including VA home loans, is in effect until June 30, 2021. If you are in danger of becoming homeless during the COVID-19 national emergency, do not hesitate to reach out to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans.
The VA is also exploring options to ease financial burdens due to federal collections on compensation and pension overpayments, as well as medical and education-related debts. Updated information and guidance for veterans will be available at va.gov as the situation progresses.