Veterans will see a cost-of-living increase in their benefits payouts later this year, but it likely won’t be as big as the last one they received.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed into law the annual Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which guarantees that a host of veterans benefits will see the same annual boost as Social Security recipients.
Veterans benefits covered include disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowances, and dependency and indemnity compensation checks.
The measure is typically just a formality — it passed Congress again this year with no opposition — but is required annual work for lawmakers because federal statute does not link annual COLA increases for the two separate payouts. Legislative efforts in recent years to make the increases automatic for veterans have proven unsuccessful.
Navy veteran Elaine Lauria, D-Va., sponsored the measure and called it an important way for lawmakers to honor their commitment to individuals who served honorably in the armed forces.
“Providing quality benefits to our veterans and their dependents can change lives,” she said.
The official cost-of-living boost for social security beneficiaries won’t be announced until next month, but multiple analysts have said they expect it to be below the 2.8 percent adjustment awarded last January.
The annual COLA calculation is based on a series of economic indicators, including the private sector wage growth. In the last decade, Social Security recipients (and individuals receiving veterans benefits) have gone without an annual increase three times. It has only gone about 2 percent twice in that span.
Frequently, lawmakers don’t finalize the link between the veterans cost-of-living increase and the Social Security one until later in the fall, after the figure has been announced. Because of the timing of check distribution and the federal calendar, the increases in veterans benefits will be reflected in individuals December payouts.
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.