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VA may owe veterans millions in refunds on home loans fees

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More than 50,000 disabled veterans could be owed as much as $190 million in refunds from the Department of Veterans Affairs for home loan fees they were wrongly charged or no longer owe, an investigation has found.

Senior leaders knew about the problem for years but didn’t ensure veterans received what they are due, the investigation by the VA inspector general found. 

Veterans pay the fees when they buy homes with the help of VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program, but they are supposed to be exempt if they are disabled. Fees can total up to 3.3% of a home’s value. 

But the VA didn’t do that in thousands of cases dating back more than a decade because the veterans didn’t ask for the refunds.

VA loan managers, who knew about outstanding debts to veterans since at least 2014, told investigators that they had been focused on other priorities, including processing high volumes of applications.

Investigators from the inspector general’s office said in their report released Thursday that they found it “troubling” that the managers were “aware that thousands of veterans were potentially owed more than $150 million yet did not take adequate actions to ensure refunds were issued.”

“It is the review team’s opinion that requiring a veteran to submit a claim for a refund improperly places the burden and responsibility solely upon the veteran,” investigators said.

The VA issued a press release last month – as the inspector general was preparing to release the investigation results – announcing that the agency is now notifying veterans when they buy homes under the program that they are exempt from the fees if they are disabled or later determined to be disabled.

“Through an internal quality improvement effort, VA has put a plan in place to better inform veterans through key communications when the law allows VA to waive the fee for a veteran,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the release.

The release did not say what is being done to ensure veterans due refunds from loans in prior years are paid. The inspector general found the amounts owed in its review ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.

The VA said veterans who believe they are owed a refund should consult the agency’s website for more information about VA home loan funding fees.

Between 2012 and 2017, the VA collected roughly $10 billion in fees from veterans under the loan program.

The inspector general estimated disabled veterans who were wrongly charged accounted for $286 million of those fees. But the VA only refunded about $100 million, leaving an estimated $190 million that may still be due to 53,200 veterans.   

The Loan Guaranty program was established in 1944 to help veterans finance home purchases. Loans are provided by private lenders, but the VA guarantees a portion of the loans for eligible buyers. The lenders collect the fees and transmit them to the VA.

If a veteran wrongly paid the fees, the VA can refund the money directly to the veteran. If the fees were included as part of a loan, the VA pays the lender, which applies it to the loan balance.

In 2014, regional VA loan officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, notified senior VA managers that an analysis found nearly $150 million may be due in refunds to disabled veterans for fees on 48,000 loans issued between 2006 and 2014.

“As of January 2019, the review team received no indication that a large-scale effort had been initiated to issue refunds to these veterans,” the inspector general said.   

The director of the Loan Guaranty program since 2017, Jeffrey London, told investigators he “considered contracting out the task of issuing refunds, but never requested the award of a contract because other priorities…took precedence,” the investigators wrote.

The inspector general recommended the agency identify and pay all the veterans owed refunds. In addition, the VA should implement procedures to minimize the number of veterans who are wrongly charged fees and conduct periodic reviews to ensure those who are receive prompt refunds.

The VA told investigators some of the fees were incorrectly assessed by lenders, not the VA. But agency officials said in their response to the report that they “generally agreed” with the investigation’s findings and are consulting lawyers about complexities related to issuing refunds.

The agency “has drafted a plan with contingencies ready for implementation depending on the (legal) opinion,” the VA response said. The agency did not elaborate on what the plan is or when refunds will be issued.  

 

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1 Comment

  1. Kristine

    June 13, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Very good post. I’m going through this issues as well.

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Music

Lizzo Trying to Manifest Banging Drake After New Song Name-Drop

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Lizzo says she name-dropped Drake in her new song to turn the tables on an age-old trope of rappers doing the same for women — but it seems she’s actually trying to bang the dude.

During an interview with Zane Lowe, the singer mentioned Drake on her new song with Cardi B, “Rumors,” because she felt it’d be fun to give society a taste of its own medicine — and in this context, that means flipping the script on rappers/male musicians name-dropping fine women in their tunes.

If you didn’t hear the bar yet, it goes … “Last year, I thought I would losе it // Readin’ s*** on the internet // My smoothie cleanse and my diet // No, I ain’t f*** Drake yet (Ha).”

The Drake thing seems to have come out of left field … but Lizzo explained further in the ZL sit-down, jokingly saying she hasn’t quite been able to manifest some bedroom boom with Toronto’s Certified Lover Boy — even though it sounds like she’d love to take a dip.

All kidding aside, Lizzo says she included the line as a way to turn what rappers have often done in music — namely, name-dropping ladies/would-be sexual exploits — upside down on its head. It’s true … fellas have done that for a long time in the genre .

As far as their real-life relationship … Lizzo says she kinda knows Drake, and that he’s super cool.

Still, it seems she does, in fact, want some of what he’s got — at least based on her Twitter activity shortly after this interview aired. She tweeted right at Champagne Papi for the whole world to see, writing … “Hey big head @Drake.” Classic “wyd” vibes for modern dating.

Aubrey hasn’t publicly responded yet … but wouldn’t that be something if he did??? Unfortunately for her, he seems to have his hands full with
Johanna Leia and other things these days.

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Boxer Gervonta Davis Involved in Minor Plane Crash, Documents Aftermath

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Gervonta Davis just, miraculously, walked away from a plane crash relatively unscathed — and it sounds like what’s hurting him the most in the aftermath are his feet … and his caboose.

The professional boxer went live Saturday to document a terrifying encounter he says he and his crew had just gone through after boarding a private jet … which apparently failed to properly take off and crash landed back down to the airport grounds it was trying to leave.

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear the aircraft got very far up before coming back down to Earth — because Gervonta and other passengers seemed more or less okay … with their health and bodies intact.

That’s not to say Gervonta wasn’t feeling some hurt afterwards — on his live feed, he noted that his booty was aching like no other … this while he wrapped his feet in gauze. He’s pretty jovial about the whole thing, which is great to see, but this could’ve easily been way worse.

Gervonta also was able to get some shots of the downed plane, and it sure looks like something went wrong internally. There were also fire engines that showed up on the scene to evaluate the damage and tend to anyone’s injuries. Again, though, most everyone seems to be fine … which is absolutely incredible, because it appears there were even children aboard, based on a photo Gervonta posted shortly before getting on his flight. His video doesn’t capture any kids, though.

It’s unclear what exactly caused the malfunction — but you can hear Gervonta and his friends speculate on what happened … seems like there might’ve been some overheating of some sort. They also appear to be discussing some of the flight maneuvers the pilot(s) were using in the air … and the group seems to think that may have attributed to it going down.

Stay tuned while we here at Prestige try to get a hold of Gervonta’s team for more answers.

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News & Entertainment

Drake Takes Shot at Kanye in New Verse, Calls Him ‘Burnt Out’

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Drake is stirring the pot again on his rap beef with Kanye West — taking a new shot at the guy in a song he just dropped with Trippie Redd … and it might be the ultimate insult.

The rapper is featured on TR’s new track, “Betrayal,” and at one point in Drizzy’s verse, he brings up Mr. West by name … acknowledging that they are, indeed, still apparently beefing — while also going so far as to call Kanye “burnt out” … and noting it’s irrelevant to him.

Here’s how the Kanye bar goes … “All these fools I’m beefin’ that I barely know // Forty-five, forty-four (Burned out), let it go // Ye ain’t changin’ s*** for me, it’s set in stone.” He adds … “Rollin’ stones, heavy stones (PinkGrillz) // Precious stone, let me make my presence known.”

The “Ye” reference could possibly be interpreted as “they” or “you” — but based on Drake touching Kanye’s exact age (44) … it seems clear he meant the former with some clever word play. The folks over at Genius heard it too … they wrote out the lyric as “Ye.”

Now, for some analysis — as to why Drake is randomly bringing up Kanye again after years have passed since they beefed, with Pusha T in the mix, is anyone’s guess at this point.

However, some people have a theory on these old foes — there’s been speculation of late that Kanye is, perhaps, trying to set up his “Donda” release so that it lines up with Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” album … which he’s on record as saying would be out by the end of summer at the latest. That’s just a few weeks away … and neither project has dropped.

There’s no evidence to prove it one way or another … but the fact that Kanye continues to delay the release date — with seemingly no end in sight — is curious in this context. That, coupled with the fact that Drake’s going after him anew, is even more eyebrow-raising.

In any case, we’re always here for some new beef. And, if it means more music from these two in the process … we’ll take it and then some. Ball’s in your court, Ye (we think).

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