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Vets, retirees will see a 0.3% COLA hike in 2017

October 18, 2016 (Photo Credit: Military Times)
Military retirees and individuals receiving veterans benefits will see only a 0.3 percent cost-of-living increase in their federal benefits next year, a nominal increase matching 2016’s hike.

On Tuesday, officials from the Social Security Administration announced the small raise, the third consecutive year the benefits adjustment will be under 0.5 percent. Since 2009, the cost-of-living hike has been more than 2 percent only once, when it reached 3.6 percent in 2011.

Veterans benefits are not automatically tied to the Social Security increase, but in July lawmakers passed legislation linking the two benefits for 2017. In the last few decades, veterans have seen their annual adjustment differ from the Social Security COLA only one time, and then only due to minor rounding differences.

The Social Security COLA is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ periodic Consumer Price Index, a statistical estimate of the anticipated price of a variety household goods and services.

This year, officials are estimating only small increases in those costs, identical to the rise seen in expenses heading into 2016.

The Social Security, military retiree and veterans benefits changes affect more than 70 million Americans, about 22 percent of the country’s population.  

According to the Associated Press, the 0.3 percent adjustment will mean less than $4 more a month for a Social Security recipient who sees the average payout of $1,238.

The adjustment will go into effect for beneficiaries starting Dec. 30.

Veterans using Medicare for health coverage may not see anything at all once those medical costs come into play. The Associated Press reports that Medicare Part B premiums, which are usually deducted from Social Security payments, are expected to increase next year, effectively wiping out the COLA hike.

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at .
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