Veterans always get the same annual cost-of-living increase as Social Security recipients. But there's no guarantee that will continue.
Earlier this month, House lawmakers adopted the so-called "American Heroes COLA Act," which would provide an automatic cost-of-living adjust for veterans benefits such as disability compensation, payouts for dependents, and other Veterans Affairs living allowances.
Under current law, those annual increases are automatic for Social Security benefits, determined by the executive branch without intervention from Congress. But veterans benefits fall into a different category, one that requires lawmaker intervention each year to become law.
But Abraham and other lawmakers point out that congressional infighting in recent years has sidelined other legislation assumed routine, including the budget fights which resulted in the 2013 partial government shutdown.
By making the veteran benefits increases automatic, that political turmoil is no longer an obstacle.
Officials from the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees have been discussing an omnibus veterans reform measure to bring before both chambers later this spring, with the COLA fix among the issues under consideration.
Last year, neither veterans nor Social Security recipients saw an increase in their payouts, with federal officials citing a drop in consumer prices as evidence that an increase was not needed.
The bill would not affect adjustments for military retirement pay, which are calculated through other methods.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.