CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
S. 407 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) on February 10, 2009.
S. 407 directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the amounts paid to veterans for disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency compensation, at the same cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment rate payable to recipients of Social Security. This increase would take effect on December 1, 2009.
The funds covered by this increase are the Wartime Disability Compensation, Additional Compensation for Dependents, Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to Children.
The Department of Veterans Affairs administers a service-connected disability program which provides monthly cash benefits to veterans with disabilities suffered during active duty in the Armed Forces. The amount of compensation is dependent on the severity of the disability and other factors. The Department estimates that it will provide disability compensation to over 3 million veterans in 2009.
Veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or more may receive additional compensation on behalf of a spouse, children, or dependent parents. Such compensation is prorated based on the disability rating. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs pays dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of service members and veterans who died on active duty on or after 1957. The VA estimates it will pay such benefits to approximately 343,000 survivors in 2009.
Cost-of-living allowances, or COLAs, adjust benefits, entitlements, and salaries based on changes for inflation. Federal programs like Social Security, the Civil Service Retirement System, and the Federal Employees Retirement System utilize COLAs.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "the COLA that would be authorized by this bill is assumed in CBO's baseline... Furthermore, based on its current economic forecast, CBO does not anticipate a cost-of-living increase in 2010 for Social Security; thus, CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have no impact on spending for those programs."