Last week Congress finalized plans to guarantee that Veterans’ checks see the same cost-of-living boost as Social Security payouts. This could be the biggest margin that Veterans could see their benefits boosted by in four decades.
Federal officials aren’t expected to announce the Social Security benefits adjustment until mid-October. The non-profit Senior Citizens League predicted a cost-of-living increase of about 8.7% for 2023, based on inflation data through the first eight months of the year.
If the estimate is correct, it would be the highest annual increase since 1981. The 2022 cost-of-living adjustment was 5.9%.
For a Veteran receiving about $1,500 in monthly payouts, that level of increase would mean about $130 extra each month.
Social Security and some other federal benefits are adjusted each year, to reflect increases in basic family costs like rent, groceries, and utilities. But for Veteran benefits, that process isn’t automatic. Lawmakers must pass legislation annually to link the two sets of benefits to ensure that Veterans’ payouts keep pace with those increasing costs.
The House passed the legislation on Sept. 15 and the Senate soon after followed suit. Lawmakers called it a simple but significant move.
The VA COLA increase legislation would apply to payouts for disability compensation, clothing allowance, dependency, and indemnity benefits, as well as other VA assistance programs.
Advocates have pushed in the past to permanently link the Veterans benefits and Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, but thus far have not been successful. The President is expected to sign the measure into law in coming days.