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Berkley Wins Increase in Benefits for America's Veterans

Location: Washington, DC

Berkley Wins Increase in Benefits for America's Veterans

The House Veterans Affairs' committee today 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. Through her seat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Berkley was instrumental in passing a similar increase last year.

"Providing our veterans with a cost of living adjustment will ensure that benefits earned by these heroes and their survivors maintain their purchasing power as living costs continue to rise. This COLA will help veterans and their families who count on benefits from the VA to pay for food and housing and to maintain their quality of life," said Berkley.

The Committee also adopted an amendment tom the bill offered by Berkley that would extend the COLA increase to a payment of $250 given monthly to 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 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. It is the right choice, it is the fair choice and it sends a message that we honor our commitments to America's veterans and those they leave behind," said Berkley.

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 will help 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).

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.

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