The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 10, 2013

Rockefeller wants to give disabled veterans COLA

Some 30,000 veterans in West Virginia receiving disability payments through the Veterans Administration might see an increase by the end of the year, depending on legislation Sen. Jay Rockefeller offered Friday.

The longest serving member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is proposing an increase in the cost of living adjustment that would equal that provided to Social Security recipients.

Under the bipartisan legislation, the increase would become effective Dec. 1.

Rockefeller succeeded with similar legislation a year ago, and disabled veterans and their families received the increase Dec. 1.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line to defend our country and keep us safe,” Rockefeller said.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that when they return home, they receive the benefits they’ve earned.”

In effect currently for both the Social Security recipients and disabled veterans is a COLA of 1.7 percent.

Rockefeller said the proposal would cover a number of key benefits, such as the disability compensation, and the dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

Across the nation, an estimated 3.9 million veterans were provided benefits last year.

The COLA rate is computed in line with the consumer price index maintained by the Bureau of Labor.

In the coming fiscal year, the senator said, it is believed that more than 4.2 million veterans and survivors will be given such benefits.

“Many disabled veterans and their families are on fixed incomes, which makes it particularly important that their benefits reflect the rising cost of living so they can cover essential medications and other everyday expenses,” Rockefeller said.

Approval of the cost of living adjustment on an annual basis is “the least we can do to give back to our veterans who have given so much for us,” he added.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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