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Senate approves COLA increase for disabled vets

Oct. 20, 2011 - 01:36AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 20, 2011 - 01:36AM  |  
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The Senate moved Wednesday night to make sure disabled veterans receive the same 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment as Social Security beneficiaries and military retirees, but in typical congressional fashion it's not yet a sure thing.

By voice vote, the Senate passed S 894, the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Act of 2011, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to give disabled veterans the same increase on the same effective date as the rise in Social Security.

The result would be a 3.6 percent increase, effective Dec. 1 and paid in January, in veterans' disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors, additional dependent compensation and clothing allowances for some veterans.

This would be the first increase in two years.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of the bill, HR 1407, on May 24. It has similar provisions, but the bill cannot be sent to the White House until the House and Senate pass the same legislation. Final passage won't happen before next week because the House is in recess until this coming Monday.

Cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security, military retirement and federal civilian retirement are automatic, linked to annual changes in the Consumer Price Index. COLAs for disabled veterans are not automatic, because the House and Senate veterans committees refuse to relinquish the power of passing a COLA bill each year.

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