Senator Jay Rockefeller, the longest serving member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, today helped introduce a bill to provide disabled veterans and their families with an increase in their veterans' compensation payments.
The bipartisan bill will increase the veterans' cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) -- the amount equal to the Social Security COLA -- starting on December 1, 2013.
"Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our country and keep us safe. It's our responsibility to make sure that when they return home, they receive the benefits they've earned," said Rockefeller. "Many disabled veterans and their families are on fixed incomes, which makes it particularly important that their benefits reflect the rising cost of living so they can cover essential medications and other everyday expenses. Updating the COLA to better support our veterans each year is the least we can do to give back to our veterans, who have given so much for us."
Veterans' COLA was last increased on December 1, 2012, because of a bill Rockefeller introduced and helped pass in the Senate. The veterans' COLA will affect several important benefits including, Veterans' Disability Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for surviving spouses and children. An estimated 3.9 million veterans across the country and about 30,000 veterans in West Virginia received compensation benefits in 2012. It is projected that more than 4.2 million veterans and survivors nationwide will receive compensation benefits during the next fiscal year.
The Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the rate of veterans' payments to keep pace with the rise in expenses for Veterans' Disability Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for surviving spouses and children, and certain related benefits. The COLA increase for veterans would match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients. It is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living over time. The COLA rate is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.