On Wednesday April 19th, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) passed two bills authored by Chairman Jon Runyan (R-NJ). Both H.R. 4114, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012 and H.R. 4142, the Americans Heroes COLA Act were passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support. H.R. 4114 would direct the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase the rates of veterans' disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowance, and compensation for surviving spouses and children for 2013. H.R. 4142 would make cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) automatic each year, eliminating the need for Congress to pass a veterans' benefits COLA bill each year.
"I am pleased that these two important bills are quickly moving through the legislative process," said Rep. Runyan. "Our veterans sacrifice so much to defend our nation and our freedoms and they deserve these COLAs. More importantly, they should not have a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their heads when it comes to these cost-of-living adjustments, which is why I am so proud of H.R. 4142. I am hopeful that these two bills will quickly pass the full House Veterans Affairs Committee and be brought to the floor for a vote by the entire House of Representatives."
Since 1975, if the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) saw an increase from the 3rd quarter to the 4th quarter, Social Security benefits were automatically increased. Unfortunately, this is not true of veterans' benefits. Even though veterans' benefits are also tied to the CPI-W, to receive an annual COLA, Congress is required to enact legislation. In an effort to change this inequity, Congressman Runyan introduced H.R. 4142, the American Heroes COLA Act. This bill would require that whenever there is a cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would also be required to increase veterans' disability benefits by the same amount. The COLA for veterans' benefits would be the same as the COLA for Social Security recipients.
Representative Runyan is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, House Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Natural Resources Committee. He also serves as the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.