Congress appears poised to give disabled veterans a cost-of-living increase in 2016 after a series of legislative maneuvers in the days before their August break.
But veterans and federal officials will not know how much the hike is for another two months.
That's because the increase will be tied to the hike for Social Security benefits, which will not be announced until October. Still, the move provides some level of assurance to veterans that lawmakers want to ensure that their benefits are keeping pace with inflation, and with similar government payouts.
On July 28, just hours before breaking for their summer recess, House members unanimously passed the cost-of-living adjustments in disabled veterans benefits. The legislation typically is not controversial, but formal action is required every year because the hikes are not automatic.
House members called the move a commonsense adjustment, given the importance of having the payouts keep pace with rising rent and living costs.
The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved similar legislation earlier in July without opposition. The full Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on the issue, but no lawmakers have offered any public objections to the idea.
The 2015 cost-of-living adjustment was 1.7 percent, the third consecutive year that veterans and Social Security benefits increased by less than 2 percent.
The House legislation also includes several unrelated provisions dealing with training of claims processors and authorizing a presidential "moment of silence" decree every Veterans Day.
It also would require VA to pay accrued benefits to a deceased veteran's estate, even if a veteran dies without any family members eligible to continue receiving the payouts. Lawmakers said the move is designed to ensure that the department does not withhold or cancel the payouts before all potential eligible beneficiaries are identified.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.