For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, November 18, 2001

See also: In The Military

Calculation error leads to
special one-time VA
benefits payment

Question: My VA disability check normally arrives on the first of each month. However, I got a VA check in the middle of last month. What was this for?

Answer: The Veterans Affairs recently announced that there would be a special one-time payment of benefits because of an error in the calculation of the 1999 Consumer Price Index, which for the last several years has been the factor in determining the annual adjustment of VA benefit rates. Some beneficiaries were underpaid as a result. Federal law requires affected agencies to compensate affected beneficiaries for the shortfall. The payment is based on your monthly rate during calendar year 2000. For example, if it was $40 to $999, you will get a check for $36. From $1,000 to $1,999 your check will be for $60.

You should have received a notice from the VA two weeks ahead explaining this one-time payment. For more information you can call 800-827-1000.

Because of recent problems with anthrax being distributed through the postal system and delays in processing mail, such as what occurred when the nation's airplanes were grounded, direct deposit ensures your benefit checks are in your bank or savings and loan immediately upon issuance and available to you.

Q: Can I build a new home with a VA loan? Can I be my own contractor?

A: Although they are allowed by law, most lenders do not make construction loans for VA loans, largely due to the risks and costs of construction disputes. You can be your own contractor, but you will have to find your own source for construction financing. You can get a VA loan once the home is complete to refinance the construction loan. Funds from the VA loan also can be used to pay off the balance of the loan on the land, provided the total VA mortgage amount does not exceed the VA reasonable (appraised) value of the property. The house would be considered an existing home once construction was complete. It will have to meet VA Minimum Property Standards that apply to existing homes. The property standards are listed in the Lender's Handbook available from the VA. For more information, call 433-1000 and listen for the loan guarantee selection.

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 can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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