In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey interrupted operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional office in Houston, Texas, as well as postal service in multiple Texas communities. In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria interrupted operations at the VA regional office in Puerto Rico, and postal service throughout the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands area. Correspondence containing claims, information, or evidence sent to VA during these periods was likely delayed due to interrupted operations of the regional office or postal service. VA aims to protect the interest of claimants who sent correspondence to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) through the normal channels of communication during these periods and prevent them from possibly being deprived of benefits solely because those channels of communication were disrupted due to events outside of the claimants’ control. Therefore, VA is instituting procedures to consider alternative dates as the date of receipt of correspondence.
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