Veterans will no longer be able to use multiple bank accounts for different Veterans Affairs benefits under new anti-fraud measures being rolled out by department officials over the next two months.

The move is expected to affect about 50,000 current GI Bill users who also receive other veterans stipends, but VA leaders are promising they will not cut off benefits to anyone as a result of the changes.

Instead, if veterans fail to consolidate their bank accounts by April 20, department processors will begin sending all of the benefits to a single account. Still, such a move could cause significant financial problems for individuals expecting to find the money in a specific account to cover bills and expenses.

Officials said they will spend the next two months aggressively contacting the thousands of student veterans potentially impacted by the new rule, and explaining the reasons behind it.

“Maintaining a single account for the payment of this benefit provides an added layer of security against the increasing threats of fraud we experience as part of our daily lives,” VA Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs told reporters on Wednesday.

“Veterans have earned these benefits through their service to the nation. And ensuring they’re safeguarded from those with malicious intent is a significant feature of this single account initiative.”

VA officials said veterans may use different bank accounts for different benefits for a variety of reasons, including ease of bill paying and simply forgetting to update old accounts.

But Jacobs warned that such an arrangement makes it easier for fraud or theft, and harder for VA officials to provide oversight of the funds. He said the changes come as “we are working to modernize our payment systems so we can protect the integrity of the veterans benefits” across multiple systems.

VA has enacted similar bank account mandates in the past, including in 2017, when Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits were required to be sent to the same place as medical stipend payouts.

Veterans impacted by the change can update their bank records or find out more information about the new policy through the department’s website.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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