VA OCCUPATIONAL TEST REIMBURSEMENT
VA Occupational Test Reimbursement: The Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 provides new benefits for veterans which went into effect 1 MAR 01. The VA will now pay veterans reimbursement for the costs of licensing and certification tests taken on or after March 1. One of the most important improvements of the new law allows veterans the use of basic education assistance for payment of vocational or professional licensing or certification tests. Veterans can be reimbursed for examination costs up to $2,000 per test. They must be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill or the Veterans' Educational Assistance Program. The benefit is also available to veterans' survivors who qualify for dependents' educational assistance. According to the VA, a veteran does not have to pass a state bar examination or a plumber's qualification test, for example, to qualify for the benefit and may retake the test if necessary.
The benefit also can be used to renew an existing license or certificate, and tests can be taken in foreign countries if approved. There is no limit on the number of tests a veteran can take. VA pays only the cost of the tests and not any other fees connected with obtaining a license or certification. The benefit payments are sent directly to the individual veteran. Approval of tests for reimbursement depends on the department's partnerships with state agencies that certify education programs for GI Bill benefits. In general, if the testing organization is non-governmental, the test must be accepted within the industry and meet other requirements, such as having been used for at least two years. Because it is a new program, few tests were immediately authorized, but the VA is encouraging organizations that administer occupational licensure and certification tests to ask state approving agencies to review their examinations. Additional info on the new benefits and how to apply for reimbursement online can be found at www.gibill.va.gov or by calling the VA at 888-442-4551. Organizations offering tests for occupational licenses and certifications can learn how to gain VA approval by calling 888-442-4551. [Source: May 8, 2001, Dave Eberhart Stars and Stripes News Editor]
Wallet/Purse - Stolen/Lost/Missing: As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know who to call. Keep those where you can find them easily (having to hunt for them is additional stress you WON'T need at that point!). File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was lost/stolen, This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). But here's what is perhaps most important: Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number.
The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
The numbers are:
Equifax 1-800 525-6285
Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration also has a fraud line at 1-800-269-0271
[Source: Joseph Barber - USS Portsmouth]