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Public Statements

Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2004

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


VETERANS' COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - October 08, 2004)

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the bill (H.R. 4175) to increase, effective as of December 1, 2004, the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans, and for other purposes, with a Senate amendment thereto, and concur in the Senate amendment.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey (during the reading). Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate amendment be considered as read and printed in the RECORD.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

(Mr. SMITH of New Jersey asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

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Mr. Speaker, H.R. 4175, as amended, would provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), in the same amount as given to Social Security recipients, to disabled veterans and surviving spouses. All veterans and qualified survivors of veterans who receive disability compensation would receive a full COLA beginning on December 1 of this year.

More than 2.5 million veterans were receiving service-connected disability compensation as of April 2004. The basic purpose of the disability compensation program is to provide a measure of relief from the impaired earning capacity of veterans disabled as a result of their military service. These benefits are paid monthly, and range from $106 for a 10 percent disability to $2,239 for a 100 percent disability. Additional monetary benefits are available for our most severely disabled veterans, as well as those with dependents.

Spouses of veterans who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability likewise are entitled to monetary compensation, as the Nation assumes, in part, the legal and moral obligation of the veteran to support the spouse and children. Depending on their spouse's rank or grade in service, a spouse receives between $967 and $2,063 monthly. Currently, there are more than 300,000 surviving spouses and more than 29,000 children receiving dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC).

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan measure.

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