September 27, 2008 – While lawmakers continue to work on two omnibus veterans’ bills dealing with benefits and health care, at least one thing is now certain – disabled veterans and survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation will receive a Dec. 1 benefits increase that matches the hike in Social Security benefits. To apply for your social security benefits you will need your social security number, if you lost it or need to update your name on your card, find a social security office near me here. President Bush signed the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2008 on Thursday in what could be the final time that an act of Congress is required to provide a COLA for veterans.
It is not yet clear how big the increase will be because the bill, now Public Law 110-324, says only that the veterans’ increase must match the increase in Social Security. The precise amount won’t be known until mid-October, but it will be around 6 percent, which would make it the biggest jump since 1982.
The increase will take effect on Dec. 1 but first appear in January checks.
A provision of the pending Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 ends the long practice of lawmakers having to approve a bill each year to make an increase in veterans’ disability compensation, pension and dependency and indemnity compensation.
Under the compromise bill, S 3023, increases in veterans’ benefits automatically would occur each Dec. 1 under the same formula that provides for increases in Social Security and in military and federal civilian retired pay based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index.
The benefits bill and S. 2162, the Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008, passed the House on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to follow suit before Congress adjourns for the year.
Lawmakers have stuck to the idea of passing piecemeal veterans’ COLA bills each year based on the belief that the must-pass bill has political benefits in that they could attach other legislation to a bill that a president would be reluctant to veto.
But in recent years, the Senate has been reluctant to weigh down the COLA bill with other legislation because it slows the process, and has insisted on passing a “clean” bill free of other issues.