Collection of debts owed by reason of participation in a benefits program.
(a) Scope. This section applies to the collection of debts resulting from an individual's participation in a VA benefit or home loan program. It does not apply to VA's other debt collection activities. Standards for the demand for payment of all other debts owed to VA are set forth in § 1.911a. School liability debts are governed by § 21.4009 of this title.
(b) Written demands. When VA has determined that a debt exists by reason of an administrative decision or by operation of law, VA shall promptly demand, in writing, payment of the debt. VA shall notify the debtor of his or her rights and remedies and the consequences of failure to cooperate with collection efforts. Generally, one demand letter is sufficient, but subsequent demand letters may be issued as needed.
(c) Rights and remedies. Subject to limitations referred to in this paragraph, the debtor has the right to informally dispute the existence or amount of the debt, to request waiver of collection of the debt, to a hearing on the waiver request, and to appeal the Department of Veterans Affairs decision underlying the debt. These rights can be exercised separately or simultaneously. Except as provided in § 1.912a (collection by offset), the exercise of any of these rights will not stay any collection proceeding.
(1) Informal dispute. This means that the debtor writes to the Department of Veterans Affairs and questions whether he or she owes the debt or whether the amount is accurate. The Department of Veterans Affairs will, as expeditiously as possible, review the accuracy of the debt determination. If the resolution is adverse to the debtor, he or she may also request waiver of collection as indicated in paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section.
(2) Request for waiver; hearing on request. The debtor has the right to request waiver of collection, in accordance with § 1.963 or § 1.964, and the right to a hearing on the request. Requests for waivers must be filed in writing. A waiver request must be filed within the time limit set forth in 38 U.S.C. 5302. If waiver is granted, in whole or in part, the debtor has a right to refund of amounts already collected up to the amount waived.
(3) Appeal. In accordance with parts 19 and 20 of this title, the debtor may appeal the decision underlying the debt.
(d) Notification. The Department of Veterans Affairs shall notify the debtor in writing of the following:
(1) The exact amount of the debt;
(2) The specific reasons for the debt, in simple and concise language;
(3) The rights and remedies described in paragraph (c) of this section, including a brief explanation of the concept of, and requirements for, waiver;
(4) That collection may be made by offset from current or future VA benefit payments (see § 1.912a ). In addition, the debtor shall be advised of any policies with respect to the use of credit bureaus, debt collection centers, and collection agencies; any other remedies to enforce payment of the debt, including administrative wage garnishment, Federal salary offset, tax refund offset, and litigation; and the requirement that any debt delinquent for more than 180 days be transferred to Treasury for administrative offset or collection.
(5) That interest and administrative costs may be assessed in accordance with § 1.915, as appropriate;
(6) That the debtor shall have the opportunity to inspect and copy records; and
(7) That the debtor shall have the opportunity to enter into a repayment agreement.
(e) Sufficiency of notification. Notification is sufficient when sent by ordinary mail directed to the debtor's last known address and not returned as undeliverable by postal authorities.
(f) Further explanation. Further explanation may be found for—