Veterans, their families, and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost of living (COLA) increase starting with their January 1, 2014 payment.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for veterans, their families and survivors,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime veterans.”
For veterans without dependents, the 1.5 percent boost in pay will result in compensation rates ranging from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available on the VA’s website.
Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. In 2013, the increase was 1.7 percent.
The 2014 adjustment marks the first time that payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar, as previously required by law. This will mean veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.
“While this may be a relatively small token when considered in terms of the enormous sacrifices that our veterans have made, it does represent movement in the right direction,” said James Fischl, associate director of field services operations at Paralyzed Veterans of America. “As advocates for VA benefits, we at Paralyzed Veterans applaud this favorable change.”
Paralyzed Veterans also supports initiatives like the 2013 Putting Veterans Funding First Act (H.R. 813), which would require Congress to fully fund the VA’s discretionary budget one year ahead of schedule, ensuring that all VA services will have timely, predictable funding in an era when continuing resolutions and threats of government shutdowns are all too common.
“The payment of VA compensation is part of the sacred trust which defines the character of a grateful nation,” Fischl said. “In the words of Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, ‘It is time for Congress to put the interest of veterans ahead of political benefit.’”
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Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.