Disabled veterans will hopefully soon see a small increase in their monthly VA benefits after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a cost-of living adjustment recently. The measure is intended to provide veterans and their families with more money to keep up with rising costs of food, housing, and other costs of living paid for with their monthly disability benefits. According to the bill, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), the increase would go into effect December 1, 2015.
What The Legislation Provides
The U.S. House passed the bill, known as H.R. 675: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015, on July 28, 2015, by a vote of 409-0. Before becoming law, the measure will have to be passed by the U.S. Senate where it is currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. You can read a full copy of the legislation here. In addition to the cost-of-living, the legislation addresses a few other issues relating to judges’ compensation on the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and other minor changes related to VA claims processing.
The cost-of-living adjustment would provide for increases in disability compensation benefits, including the amount of additional compensation veterans receive when they are rated at least 30% and have dependents. Those receiving clothing allowances and surviving dependents of deceased veterans (both spouses and children) would also see the increase in their Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.
Details Still Pending
The amount of the cost-of-living adjustment is not yet known since it is not specified in the legislation. Rather, the increase for veterans is indexed to that for Social Security recipients. However, the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security will not be decided until October of this year. Last year’s increase was 1.7% of the monthly benefit. For more information on the amount of benefits disabled veterans and their families may receive, take a look at the VA’s current compensation rates.
This legislation is important since there is no automatic CPI-indexing provision in the law for veterans to receive an increase each year. Instead, there must be legislation each year to provide for any cost-of-living increase for veterans and their dependents.
Because the cost-of-living adjustment is only intended to help keep up with inflation, this proposed increase will not really improve disabled veterans’ ability to cover all their financial needs. If you or a loved one is a disabled veteran who believes an increase in VA benefits is deserved, you should consider applying for an increased rating on one or more service-connected conditions. For more information, check out our previous blog on increased ratings and contact us on this page or by phone for a free consultation on your veterans disability claim.