View Full Version : House approves increase in veterans' benefits

07-13-05, 02:51 PM
Courtesy of Mark aka The Fontman

House approves increase in veterans' benefits
By Rick Maze
Times staff writer
July 13, 2005

The House has approved a cost-of-living increase in veterans' benefits, including disability and survivor pays and the new monthly benefit for minor children of deceased veterans.

The bill, HR 1220, assumes a 2.3 percent increase in veterans' disability compensation and in the survivor benefit known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. The bill would mandate the same increase in surviving-spouse payments for children under age 18, a new benefit approved by Congress in 2004.

The increase would take effect on Dec. 1, and first appear in January checks.

The House passed the bill by voice vote. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee is expected to pass similar legislation next week.

About 2.6 million veterans get service-connected disability compensation, while about 307,000 surviving spouses and 29,000 surviving children receive dependency and indemnity compensation, according to a report by the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

The percentage increase in benefits is designed to match the increase in Social Security, which is set under an automatic formula indexed to the rise in consumer prices. The Social Security increase, which also applies to military and federal civilian retired pay, won't be set until October. Lawmakers promised to adjust the veterans' benefits increase to match the exact percentage change in Social Security benefits.

The 2.3 percent increase included in the bill is based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office about current trends in consumer prices. That increase, if it holds, would be less than the 2.7 percent increase in Social Security and veterans benefits last year.

Disability compensation rates vary depending upon the severity of disability. A 2.3 percent increase would make the lowest monthly rate $110 per month and the highest $2,632.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation would be $1,015 a month for a spouse and $255 for a minor child under the bill.

The surviving-children benefit is available to a family only for two years or until there are no longer children under age 18, whichever comes first. This new benefit was created in the wake of concerns that were raised about problems facing the families of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.