It was touch-and-go for a while, but the U.S. Senate has finally passed a bill that will give disabled veterans and their survivors a cost of living adjustment (COLA) next year.
Passed just before the Nov. 30 deadline, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012 authorizes a 1.7% increase in benefits for nearly 4 million veterans and survivors, starting with checks mailed in January 2013.
The 1.7% increase matches the COLA given to Social Security recipients for 2013.
The COLA will affect veterans' benefits including disability compensation and dependency, as well as indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.
According to the bill's sponsor Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the COLA will result in an additional $500 in benefits for disabled veterans and their families next year.
"Veterans fought hard for this country and earned all their benefits," said Sen. Tester in a press release. "It's my job to make sure those benefits keep pace with economic realities, and I will fight to improve the lives of veterans across Montana and the country."
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Sen. Tester's bill was passed in the House by a voice vote on July 9, but according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, was temporarily blocked in the Senate by an "unnamed Senate Republican."
"A cost-of-living increase for our veterans is well deserved," said Sen. Murray. "Particularly in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet. I am so glad we were finally able to move forward with passage of this bill. Caring for our nation's veterans should never be a partisan issue."