Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted and approved a bill giving larger benefit checks to veterans this year. The bill was sent to President Obama for signature. The approved increase is a 1.5% cost of living adjustment for veterans benefits, meaning that for every $100 dollars a veteran received in benefits last year, the veteran will now receive an additional $1.50.
The Bill, S. 893, directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase, as of December 1, 2013, the rates for veterans disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for qualified disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. The increase in benefits is the same percentage as the increase provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.
Update: The American Heroes COLA Act
An effort was made to pass the American Heroes COLA Act, H.R. 570, which would authorize a COLA every year without Congressional action. Representative Jon Runyan, R-NJ-3, introduced the bill in February 2013. It requires that, whenever title II Social Security Act benefits are increased, so would veterans benefits as a matter of law. Under H.R. 570, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would increase the benefits listed above by the same percentage as the increase for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, this law to expedite COLA increases has not passed.
Net Effects of the 2013 Cost of Living Adjustment for Veterans Benefits
The COLA is expected to disburse around $0.9 million in additional benefits to veterans, according to information from the Congressional Budget Office. These additional benefits are greatly needed when unemployment among veterans remains higher than the national average.
How To Apply for Veterans’ Benefits
If you are not receiving veterans’ benefits but think you may qualify, we encourage you to learn here about types of veterans’ disability compensation as well as other federal veterans’ benefits. Keep in mind that many states offer their own state veterans’ benefits, too. Free help is available to you when you apply for most benefits.