1.7 Percent COLA Enacted
Patty Murray, (D-WA), with veterans.
President Obama has signed legislation providing a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 3.9 million recipients of VA disability benefits, dependency and indemnity compensation and pensions.
The COLA bill, which had been stalled in the Senate since late September, was freed up on Nov. 13 and unanimously approved in time for the increase to be included in the checks received in January. Additional delay could have stalled payments until February or later.
“VA compensation is a major source of income for many veterans and their families, so adjusting those payments for inflation is absolutely necessary,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski. “We’re pleased the Senate was able to pass the bill so quickly after the legislative election recess.”
“Veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “We were finally able to move forward with passage of this bill. Caring for our nation’s veterans should never be a partisan issue.”
Murray said the noncontroversial bill had been blocked by an unnamed Senate Republican. Under Senate rules, a single senator can block legislation by privately placing a hold on the bill. Senate Republicans reported on Sept. 27 the bill had been cleared, but by then, the legislative body had gone into recess.
The VA warned that if Congress didn’t pass the bill by Nov. 13, it would be unable to pay the December cost-of-living adjustment as scheduled on Jan. 1. The VA reported after the Senate passage of the bill that payments would be on schedule.
“This is a much-needed relief from the higher costs veterans must pay for a number of basic items, such as food and fuel,” said Jesinoski. The COLA is the same as the mandatory increase for Social Security recipients based on the federal cost of living index.
“We are grateful that the Senate worked with the utmost speed to approve the COLA once it returned to work,” he said. “It was the first item on the agenda and was approved without dissent—a strong sign of our nation’s commitment to honoring injured and ill veterans, their families and survivors.