The Social Security Administration announced in October that cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) benefits for over 62 million Americans would increase 2.8 percent in 2019. Federal law requires COLA adjustments to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation and pension rates to be the same as Social Security benefits, so disabled veterans and military retirees will also benefit from the COLA increase.
The increase was based on the Consumer Price Index for the third quarter of 2017 through the third quarter of 2018. It marks the most significant increase in seven years. The COLA increase in 2018 was 2 percent, and no increase has exceeded that since the 3.6 percent increase in 2012.
The increase means that monthly compensation for veterans with a 10 percent disability rating goes from $136.24 a month to $140.05. A veteran with 100 percent disability goes from $2,973.86 a month to $3,057.13.
A 100 percent-disabled veteran can have their monthly payment increase to $3,437.10 if they have a spouse and two children. Veterans with a 30 percent disability rating or higher can be entitled to greater benefits if they have dependents.
The average VA disability check will increase approximately $4 a month for veterans with a 10 percent disability rating, and the increase will be about $83 a month for veterans rated at 100 percent.
Veterans with 20 percent disability ratings will go from $269.30 to $276.84, while veterans with 30 percent disability ratings go from $417.15 to $428.83. A veteran with a 40 percent disability rating will see an increase from $600.90 to $617.73, and veterans with 50 percent disability ratings go from $855.41 to $879.36.
Veterans with 60 percent disability ratings will go from $1,083.52 to $1,113.86, while veterans with 70 percent disability ratings go from $1,365.48 to $1,403.71. A veteran with an 80 percent disability rating will see an increase from $1,587.25 to $1,631.69, and veterans with 90 percent disability ratings go from $1,783.68 to $1,833.62.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) refers to compensation paid for special circumstances, such as the need for regular assistance or loss of a limb. Veterans receiving SMC benefits also receive a 2.8 percent increase in 2019 due to COLA.
Berry Law Firm founder John S. Berry Sr. is a Vietnam War veteran and Bronze Star recipient. Our team is made up of Veterans from all four branches of the military. We understand the difficulties veterans face when applying for VA disability benefits. We are veterans committed to helping other veterans.
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