The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act passed unanimously in the House and without objection in the Senate earlier in the summer. By the time you read this, President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law.
Military Times’ recent article entitled “Veterans benefits could see a big cost-of-living boost later this year” explains that the legislation links the cost-of-living boost for veterans benefits to the planned increase in Social Security benefits. Although the Social Security increase is automatic every year, lawmakers must approve the veterans benefits increase annually.
The amount of the increase for next year is still not certain. The Social Security Administration is expected to announce the COLA rate for 2022 in October, based on economic trends over the last few months. That increase will go into effect for benefits checks sent out starting this December.
The cost-of-living bump hasn’t been above 3.0% since 2011, and has averaged less than 1.3% over the last six years.
However, officials from the Senior Citizens League predicted that next year’s rise could top 6.2%, based on recent inflation and wage data released by federal economists. If so, it would be the largest increase since 1983 for Social Security and VA benefits recipients.
Lawmakers praised the bill passage as needed support for American veterans.
“The cost-of-living adjustment to veterans’ benefits is so much more than a rate adjustment tied to inflation,” said Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., in a statement. “It is a quality-of-life guarantee in the retirement years for veterans suffering with service-connected disabilities and ailments.”
VA officials will announce the plan soon, which includes a review of service records to see if individuals’ eligibility for benefits should be approved.
Committee ranking member Mike Bost, R-Ill., said the increase is critical for veterans and families who rely on disability benefits as a primary source of income.
“Many veterans rely on disability compensation payments to make ends meet; this was especially true during the pandemic,” he said in a statement. “For millions of veterans and their families, this adjustment is more important now than ever before.”
The VA COLA increase applies to payouts for disability compensation, clothing allowance, dependency and indemnity benefits and other VA assistance programs.
Reference: Military Times (Sep. 21, 2021) “Veterans benefits could see a big cost-of-living boost later this year”