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Waivers for VA benefit debt

A waiver may be an option if you can’t repay a VA debt. Keep reading to learn about waivers for debt related to VA disability compensation, non-service-connected pension, or education benefits. Find out how to request a waiver—and what to expect if you do.

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How does a waiver work?

A waiver means that we agree to forgive (or “waive”) a VA debt. You can request a waiver if you can’t afford to repay your full debt balance—even with smaller monthly payments over time. We may grant a waiver for part or all of a VA debt.

If we grant your waiver request, you won’t have to repay the amount we agree to waive.

Note: If we waive an education benefit debt and you have remaining entitlement, we’ll reduce the amount of your remaining entitlement as part of the waiver. 

Is there a time limit for when I can request a waiver?

Yes. Here's what to know about waiver time limits.

Time limit to avoid late fees, interest, or other collection actions while we make our decision

We'll stop collection while we make our decision if you request a waiver within a certain time. This is how many days you have from when you receive your first debt letter:

  • 30 days for education debts
  • 90 days for other types of debt

If we receive your request after the time limit, we won't stop collection while we make our decision.

Time limit for considering waiver requests

We can only consider waiver requests within a certain time. This is how many days you have from when you receive your first debt letter:

  • 180 days for education, disability compensation, or pension benefit debt
  • 1 year for home loan debt

By law, we must deny waiver requests received after these time limits. We'll explain your right to appeal in the denial letter.

Note: Need a waiver for VA health care copays? Learn how to request copay financial hardship assistance

Can a representative request a waiver for a Veteran?

Yes. A representative who has the legal authority to act on the Veteran’s behalf can request a waiver for the Veteran’s debt. A representative may be someone in any of these roles:

  • A parent, sibling, or adult child
  • A VA fiduciary
  • An accredited attorney, claims agents, or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative
    Get help requesting a waiver
  • A person serving as the executor of the Veteran’s estate

How do I request a waiver?

You'll need to submit these 2 items:

  • A Financial Status Report (VA Form 5655)
  • A personal statement that explains why you feel you shouldn't have to repay the debt. In your statement, share more information to support your waiver request. This should be information that you haven't provided in writing and isn't already in your VA records. You can also ask for an oral hearing.

Learn more about how to submit VA Form 5655

Note: Need help with VA health care copayment debt? Learn how to request financial hardship assistance for copayment debt

What can I expect after I request a waiver?

If you requested an oral hearing, we’ll contact you to tell you the date, time, and location of the hearing. We'll hold the hearing before we make our decision on your waiver request.

We'll mail you a letter with our decision. You'll receive one of these 3 decisions:

  • Full waiver. This means you won’t have to repay any of the debt.
  • Partial waiver. This means you'll have to repay a part of the debt.
  • Denial. This means you'll have to repay the full debt balance. 

If we grant you a partial waiver or deny your request, we’ll tell you how to contact us to set up a payment plan. If you get VA benefit payments and don’t set up a different payment plan, we’ll keep all or some of your benefit payment each month to pay down the debt.

We'll also tell you about your right to appeal our decision.

Note: Want more information about student loan forgiveness for federal student loans? Go to the U.S. Department of Education student aid website

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VA benefits

  • Disability

    File a claim for disability compensation for conditions related to your military service, and manage your benefits over time.

  • Education and training

    Apply for and manage your GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for college and training programs.

  • Pension

    Apply for monthly payments for wartime Veterans and survivors with limited or no income who meet certain age and disability requirements.

Need more help?

MyVA411 main information line: 800-698-2411