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The Size of the COLA for Vets This Year

An Update on the PACT Act for Vets
Veterans and retirees will see an 8.7% cost-of-living increase in their Social Security benefits starting in December, the largest increase in 42 years, federal officials announced on Thursday.

What is the size of the COLA for Vets this year? Military Times recent article announces “Veterans, retirees get 8.7% Social Security cost-of-living boost” . The big increase reflects the rising cost of inflation throughout the last year. In a statement, acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said the move will give beneficiaries “more peace of mind and breathing room.” At Beck, Lenox & Stolzer Estate Planning and Elder Law, we are very happy for our Veteran clients and their families.

The Military Times article says the move will directly impact roughly 65 million Americans getting Social Security benefits. VA officials said the average beneficiary will see an increase of about $140 in their monthly payouts. For a vet getting about $1,500 in monthly payouts, that level of increase would mean about $130 extra each month. And while the increase is for 2023, some veterans and retirees will see their first increase in their December 2022 checks.

The announcement also affects veterans and military retirees, whose benefits increases are tied to the Social Security figure. Last month, Congress approved legislation linking veterans payouts to the Social Security mark—a non-controversial but annual requirement for lawmakers. President Biden signed the measure into law this week.

The 2022 COLA was 5.9%. The 8.7% figure is the highest announced since 1981, when the COLA adjustment was more than 11%.

Whether the size of the COLA for Vets this year will be enough to address higher grocery and fuel costs is unclear. Advocacy groups in recent months have pushed for more assistance for vets and retirees dependent on the payouts, as inflation costs have risen.

Federal officials announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a formula that measures the average change in the price of consumer goods, was at 8.2% in September. That’s higher than many outside analysts had anticipated. It could be a sign of continued higher costs for consumers for months to come.

About five million veterans and two million military retirees get benefits checks each month. The COLA increase legislation would apply to payouts for disability compensation, clothing allowance, dependency, and indemnity benefits, as well as other VA assistance programs.

In a statement, Representative Elaine Luria, D-Va. and the sponsor of House legislation linking veterans benefits to the Social Security boost, called the announcement “critical financial help to our veterans and their families during these challenging times.”

If you know a Veteran who, due to age or a non-service connected disability, may need additional VA benefits such as Aid & Attendance pension, see the Beck, Lenox & Stolzer website for more information.

Reference: Military Times (Oct. 13, 2022) “Veterans, retirees get 8.7% Social Security cost-of-living boost”


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