CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, July 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5588, the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on June 28, 2016, by Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
H.R. 5588 would increase, as of December 1, 2016, the rate of Wartime Disability Compensation, Compensation for Dependents, Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to a Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to Children by the same percentage as any increase in benefits provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits for disabled veterans. Veteran disability compensation programs provide relief from the impaired earning capacity of disabled veterans as the result of their military service, and vary according to the degree of the disability. Each year, the Committee approves and reports legislation that sets the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by reference to the Social Security increase. Although the Committee typically passes such legislation each year, veterans must wait for Congress to act before they are granted such an increase. In contrast, Social Security beneficiaries receive an automatic and annual COLA if there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in the previous year.
The House passed similar language by a vote of 409 to 0 on July 28, 2015, that was included in Title I of H.R. 675, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015.
 See CRS Report “Veterans’ Benefits: Disabled Veterans” January 10, 2013 at 2.
 See House Report 114-405 at 25.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not currently available. However the COLA authorized by this legislation is assumed in CBO’s baseline, consistent with section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, and therefore would have no budgetary effect relative to the baseline.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.