Abraham’s Veterans Compensation COLA Act heads to the President’s desk
WASHINGTON – A bill by Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, to provide veterans with a cost of living adjustment awaits only the President’s signature before it becomes law.
The House of Representatives passed Dr. Abraham’s HR 5588, the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016, on Monday, July 11. The bill is required before veterans can become eligible for a cost of living increase.
The Senate followed suit and passed the bill on Wednesday, July 13. The President is expected to sign it.
“Providing a cost of living adjustment for veterans is an important step to ensure their financial stability. Our veterans took care of our nation, and now we need to take care of them,” said Dr. Abraham, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. “I appreciate the broad bipartisan support this legislation found in both the House and the Senate, and I look forward to the President’s signature so we can make this bill the law.”
HR 5588 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase, as of Dec. 1, the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses.
The amount of the increase will be equivalent to the increase provided under Title II of the Social Security Act. The precise amount of the adjustment will not be known until the end of the calendar year.
Veterans depend on Congress to act each year to provide them with benefits adjustments. Last year, Dr. Abraham’s bill to provide veterans with a COLA passed the House but never made it out of committee in the Senate.
However, Dr. Abraham is pushing to make veterans’ COLA adjustments automatic, thereby removing the need for Congress to act each year. His bill HR 677, the American Heroes COLA Act, would grant veterans a benefit adjustment each year Social Security recipients receive an adjustment.
HR 677 passed the House on Feb. 9, but the Senate has not acted on it.
“It is certainly encouraging that both houses in Congress have passed my COLA bill this year, but we need to go further, especially considering the Senate failed to act last year. Veterans deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing a COLA will come annually, rather than hoping Congress can break its gridlock to provide for them,” Dr. Abraham said.