Disruption of Mail Service, 53064-53065 [2020-18839]

Download as PDF 53064 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Notices individual SSN and name control, IRS will disclose the following to the Agency: Payee account number; Payee name and mailing address; payee taxpayer identification number (TIN); payer name and address; payer TIN; and income type and amount. SYSTEM(S) OF RECORDS: Public Law 98–369, Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, requires the Agency administering certain federally assisted benefit programs to conduct income verification to ensure proper distribution of benefit payments. The records in this match are to be disclosed only for purposes of, and to the extent necessary in, determining eligibility for, or the correct amount of benefits under, these programs. IRS will extract return information with respect to unearned income from the Information Returns Master File (IRMF), Treas/IRS 22.061, as published at 80 FR 54081–082 (September 8, 2015), through the DIFSLA Computer Matching Program. Ryan Law, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Privacy, Transparency, and Records. [FR Doc. 2020–18863 Filed 8–26–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Disruption of Mail Service AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Notice of exception to date of receipt rule. ACTION: In response to the declaration of a national emergency, announced on March 13, 2020, due to the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID–19) pandemic in the United States, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) instituted temporary provisions for determining the acceptable dates for the receipt of correspondence through the United States Postal Service mail and other mail delivery systems. This is an updated notice to VA’s April 20, 2020, Federal Register publication. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cleveland Karren, Director, Policy and Procedures, Compensation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420, 202–461–9700. (This is not a toll-free telephone number.) SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States signed a declaration of national emergency due to the COVID–19 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 pandemic in the United States, beginning March 1, 2020. The COVID– 19 pandemic required VBA to dramatically alter its operations in concert with the Federal Government’s efforts to combat the spread of the virus. VBA, as part of its efforts to protect veterans and employees, has in many locations maximized the use of telework from home. In addition, VBA has temporarily closed public contact units within VBA regional offices. Although the United States Postal Service operations have continued, limited physical staffing at VBA regional offices could lead to delays in the ability of these regional offices to receive mail and process it in a timely manner. At several VBA regional office locations the processing of correspondence (containing claims, pertinent beneficiary information or related evidence) mailed to VA during this period could be interrupted due to VA’s involvement in the Federal Government’s effort to combat the spread of COVID–19. VA aims to protect the interest of claimants who send such correspondence to VBA through the normal channels of communication during this period and could possibly be deprived of benefits solely because these channels of communication are disrupted during this time of national emergency. Therefore, VA has instituted temporary provisions for determining the acceptable dates for the receipt of correspondence through the United States Postal Service mail and other mail delivery systems (such as courier mail), as updated in this notice. VA regulation 38 CFR 3.1(r) allows the Under Secretary for Benefits to establish exceptions to VA’s rule on the date of receipt of claims, information or evidence by a notice published in the Federal Register. Ordinarily, ’’date of receipt’’ means the date on which a claim, information or evidence was received in a VA office. This regulation states that exceptions may be established when a natural or man-made interference with the normal channels through which VBA ordinarily receives correspondence has resulted in one or more VBA regional offices experiencing extended delays in the receipt of claims, information or evidence to an extent that, if not addressed, the delay would adversely affect such claimants, through no fault of their own. The COVID–19 pandemic has interrupted operations at all VBA regional offices since the beginning of March 2020. Correspondence containing claims, information or evidence sent to VA during this period was likely delayed due to interrupted operations of VBA regional offices. Because VBA PO 00000 Frm 00123 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 regional office mail systems were impacted, VA has established the following updated exceptions to the standard date of receipt rule. Exceptions to Date of Receipt Rule for Claimants Affected by the COVID–19 Outbreak VA previously gave notice that for purposes of determining entitlement to benefits, any correspondence received by VA from any claimant, during the period March 1, 2020, through 60 calendar days past the date the President ends the national state of emergency, that contains claims, information or evidence, is considered received on the date of postmark. That guidance remains in effect unless existing regulations permit an earlier date of receipt, such as in 38 CFR 3.108, 3.153 or 3.201, or in the case of Veterans Pension, if its application would, in rare instances, unduly disadvantage the claimant. VA also previously gave notice that, in the event there is no mail postmark or date stamp by the through the United States Postal Service mail and other mail delivery systems, VA would consider the correspondence as received no later than February 29, 2020. This updated notice provides that, effective immediately, VA will consider any correspondence with no postmark or date stamp as received 10 calendar days prior to the document’s scanning date at the centralized claims intake center, counting the date of receipt at the intake center as the 10th calendar day; except in such cases where the mailing clearly shows that the receipt date would be erroneous. This change is necessary to account for the length of the COVID–19 pandemic and the realities of current mail processing. Due to length of the COVID–19 pandemic, it is no longer reasonable to assume that mail lacking a postmark was received prior to March 1, 2020. Most mail sent to regional offices is forwarded directly to VBA’s claims intake center for scanning and processing; however, some sites are excluded from direct forwarding. At those sites, there are personnel onsite to review the mail and send it for scanning. Also, VA is aware of some minor delays in either forwarding, receiving and scanning the mail. In either case, treating mail as received by VA 10 calendar days prior to the date of the scanning at the claims intake center, is sufficient to cover the current delays in mail processing. VA, in applying this guidance, is attempting to give claimants the earliest and most accurate date of claim. As such, VA will treat mail that lacks a E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Notices postmark as if it was received by VA 10 calendar days prior to the date of the scanning by the claims intake center, except in such cases where the mailing clearly shows that it would be clearly erroneous. In situations where applying this liberal guidance would be clearly erroneous, VA will provide the best estimate for the date of receipt. This approach allows VA to utilize a date of mail receipt that is more aligned with the actual date of receipt. This guidance applies to correspondence received during the designated period from all domestic and foreign postal codes. Signing Authority The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Brooks D. Tucker, Acting Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this document on August 20, 2020 for publication. Luvenia Potts, Regulation Development Coordinator, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs. [FR Doc. 2020–18839 Filed 8–26–20; 8:45 am] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 8320–01–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:09 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Special Medical Advisory Group; Notice of Meeting The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App.2, that a meeting of the Special Medical Advisory Group (the Committee) will be held on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 from 9:30a.m. EDT to 2:30pm. EDT. The meeting is open to the public, the public will only be able to attend virtually, members may join in-person or virtually. Join by phone: 404.397.1596 Access Code: 1999272338# Join via Webex (please contact POC below for assistance connecting): https://veteransaffairs.webex.com/ veteransaffairs/j.php?MTID= md4560dd7a25a43364da73 e96187980cf. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Under Secretary for Health on the care and treatment of Veterans, and other matters pertinent to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The agenda for the meeting will include discussions regarding the pandemic response, challenges and future health care considerations, precision oncology expansion strategy PO 00000 Frm 00124 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 53065 and geriatrics health care future strategy. Although no time will be allocated for receiving oral presentations from the public, members of the public may submit written statements for review by the Committee to: Ms. Brenda R. Faas, Designated Federal Officer, Veterans Health Administration (10B), 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420 or by email at VASMAGDFO@ va.gov. Comments will be accepted until close of business on Friday, September 4, 2020. In the communication, the writers must identify themselves and state the organization, association of person(s) they represent. Any member of the public wishing to attend the meeting or seeking additional information should email VASMAGDFO@va.gov or call 202–461– 7005, no later than close of business on Friday, September 4, 2020. Dated: August 21, 2020. LaTonya L. Small, Federal Advisory Committee Management Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–18814 Filed 8–26–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P E:\FR\FM\27AUN1.SGM 27AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 167 (Thursday, August 27, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53064-53065]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-18839]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


Disruption of Mail Service

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

ACTION: Notice of exception to date of receipt rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In response to the declaration of a national emergency, 
announced on March 13, 2020, due to the coronavirus disease of 2019 
(COVID-19) pandemic in the United States, the Veterans Benefits 
Administration (VBA) instituted temporary provisions for determining 
the acceptable dates for the receipt of correspondence through the 
United States Postal Service mail and other mail delivery systems. This 
is an updated notice to VA's April 20, 2020, Federal Register 
publication.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Cleveland Karren, Director, Policy and 
Procedures, Compensation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 
Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420, 202-461-9700. (This is not a 
toll-free telephone number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 13, 2020, the President of the 
United States signed a declaration of national emergency due to the 
COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, beginning March 1, 2020. The 
COVID-19 pandemic required VBA to dramatically alter its operations in 
concert with the Federal Government's efforts to combat the spread of 
the virus.
    VBA, as part of its efforts to protect veterans and employees, has 
in many locations maximized the use of telework from home. In addition, 
VBA has temporarily closed public contact units within VBA regional 
offices. Although the United States Postal Service operations have 
continued, limited physical staffing at VBA regional offices could lead 
to delays in the ability of these regional offices to receive mail and 
process it in a timely manner. At several VBA regional office locations 
the processing of correspondence (containing claims, pertinent 
beneficiary information or related evidence) mailed to VA during this 
period could be interrupted due to VA's involvement in the Federal 
Government's effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. VA aims to 
protect the interest of claimants who send such correspondence to VBA 
through the normal channels of communication during this period and 
could possibly be deprived of benefits solely because these channels of 
communication are disrupted during this time of national emergency. 
Therefore, VA has instituted temporary provisions for determining the 
acceptable dates for the receipt of correspondence through the United 
States Postal Service mail and other mail delivery systems (such as 
courier mail), as updated in this notice.
    VA regulation 38 CFR 3.1(r) allows the Under Secretary for Benefits 
to establish exceptions to VA's rule on the date of receipt of claims, 
information or evidence by a notice published in the Federal Register. 
Ordinarily, ''date of receipt'' means the date on which a claim, 
information or evidence was received in a VA office. This regulation 
states that exceptions may be established when a natural or man-made 
interference with the normal channels through which VBA ordinarily 
receives correspondence has resulted in one or more VBA regional 
offices experiencing extended delays in the receipt of claims, 
information or evidence to an extent that, if not addressed, the delay 
would adversely affect such claimants, through no fault of their own.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted operations at all VBA 
regional offices since the beginning of March 2020. Correspondence 
containing claims, information or evidence sent to VA during this 
period was likely delayed due to interrupted operations of VBA regional 
offices. Because VBA regional office mail systems were impacted, VA has 
established the following updated exceptions to the standard date of 
receipt rule.

Exceptions to Date of Receipt Rule for Claimants Affected by the COVID-
19 Outbreak

    VA previously gave notice that for purposes of determining 
entitlement to benefits, any correspondence received by VA from any 
claimant, during the period March 1, 2020, through 60 calendar days 
past the date the President ends the national state of emergency, that 
contains claims, information or evidence, is considered received on the 
date of postmark. That guidance remains in effect unless existing 
regulations permit an earlier date of receipt, such as in 38 CFR 3.108, 
3.153 or 3.201, or in the case of Veterans Pension, if its application 
would, in rare instances, unduly disadvantage the claimant.
    VA also previously gave notice that, in the event there is no mail 
postmark or date stamp by the through the United States Postal Service 
mail and other mail delivery systems, VA would consider the 
correspondence as received no later than February 29, 2020. This 
updated notice provides that, effective immediately, VA will consider 
any correspondence with no postmark or date stamp as received 10 
calendar days prior to the document's scanning date at the centralized 
claims intake center, counting the date of receipt at the intake center 
as the 10th calendar day; except in such cases where the mailing 
clearly shows that the receipt date would be erroneous. This change is 
necessary to account for the length of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 
realities of current mail processing.
    Due to length of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no longer reasonable 
to assume that mail lacking a postmark was received prior to March 1, 
2020. Most mail sent to regional offices is forwarded directly to VBA's 
claims intake center for scanning and processing; however, some sites 
are excluded from direct forwarding. At those sites, there are 
personnel onsite to review the mail and send it for scanning. Also, VA 
is aware of some minor delays in either forwarding, receiving and 
scanning the mail. In either case, treating mail as received by VA 10 
calendar days prior to the date of the scanning at the claims intake 
center, is sufficient to cover the current delays in mail processing.
    VA, in applying this guidance, is attempting to give claimants the 
earliest and most accurate date of claim. As such, VA will treat mail 
that lacks a

[[Page 53065]]

postmark as if it was received by VA 10 calendar days prior to the date 
of the scanning by the claims intake center, except in such cases where 
the mailing clearly shows that it would be clearly erroneous. In 
situations where applying this liberal guidance would be clearly 
erroneous, VA will provide the best estimate for the date of receipt. 
This approach allows VA to utilize a date of mail receipt that is more 
aligned with the actual date of receipt. This guidance applies to 
correspondence received during the designated period from all domestic 
and foreign postal codes.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Brooks D. 
Tucker, Acting Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved 
this document on August 20, 2020 for publication.

Luvenia Potts,
Regulation Development Coordinator, Office of Regulation Policy & 
Management, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2020-18839 Filed 8-26-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P