House Passes Berkley Bill to Increase Benefit Payments for America's Veterans
The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously approved legislation coauthored by Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) that increases benefit payments to veterans and their survivors through a cost of living adjustment, or COLA.
"Providing our veterans with a COLA will ensure that benefits paid to these brave men and women will maintain their purchasing power even as the cost of living continues to rise. This increase will help veterans and their families who count on VA benefits to maintain their current quality of life and to pay for necessities like food, clothing and gas," said Berkley.
Through her seat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Berkley was instrumental in passing both this year's COLA and a similar increase for veterans last year. The bill also includes a provision authored by Berkley that extends the COLA increase to a monthly payment of $250 given to military spouses with dependent children who have lost a husband or wife in the line of duty.
"Our nation has an obligation to care for the families of those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no reason why we should not apply the same COLA we award to other benefits earned by our veterans to payments made to families with children who have lost a parent as a result of military service. Extending this increase in benefit payments sends the message that we honor our commitments to America's veterans and those they leave behind," said Berkley.
Without the Berkley COLA legislation, benefits to these individuals would not keep pace with the higher costs of goods and services and general inflation. The COLA bill would provide the same increase in benefits to service-disabled veterans and their survivors as is awarded to Social Security beneficiaries. While the overall amount of the increase will be determined later this year, the COLA for VA beneficiaries passed for 2006 was 4.1 percent.
As the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Berkley joined Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) in introducing H.R. 4843, The Veterans' Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2006. The legislation helps service-disabled veterans and survivors maintain the purchasing power of their federal benefits through an increase in benefits tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).