For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military Sunday, July 14, 2002

See also: In The Military

Bankruptcy may not
put home loans out of reach

Question: Can I get a Veterans Affairs home loan if I have had a bankruptcy in the last few years?

Answer: If you and/or your spouse have been adjudicated bankrupt, you are not necessarily disqualified for a VA home loan. These are the rules:

>> If the bankruptcy was discharged more than two years ago, it may be disregarded.

>> If the bankruptcy was discharged within the last one to two years, it is probably not possible to determine whether you and/or your spouse are a satisfactory credit risk unless both of the following requirements are met: You and/or your spouse have re-established satisfactory credit, and the bankruptcy was caused by circumstances beyond you and/or your spouse's control (i.e., unemployment, medical bills, etc.).

>> If the bankruptcy was discharged within the past 12 months, generally it would not be possible to determine whether you and/or your spouse are satisfactory credit risks.

If you want to get more information on home loans, contact VA benefits at 433-1000, and follow the automated instructions by pressing 2 and then 3 for loan guarantee information.

Question: I have heard a lot of talk about speeding up the disability claims processing. Is anything being done to help my veteran service organization representative?

Answer: The VA developed new software, to be released this summer, that will help veterans' service organizations prepare claims on behalf of veterans.

With the new software, an organization representative who holds power of attorney for a veteran will be able to review medical information in the veteran's electronic record at a VA health facility -- information that is needed to prepare claims for benefits based on medical conditions.

Two features in this software provide read-only access to medical files, which are protected by federal law: Users will not be able to add, delete or modify information in the medical record, and the software limits a user's access to the record of only those patients for whom he or she holds a valid power of attorney.

Currently, representatives with power of attorney can request medical records in paper form from VA. With the new system, representatives will be able to review information electronically as well, speeding the claims process.

Representatives will have access to information from all VA hospitals in which a veteran was treated.

Veterans' service organization representatives are located on the first floor of the Honolulu VA's E-wing and include the state Office of Veterans Services, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and former POWs. For more information, contact the VA at 433-1000.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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