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Retired military and disabled veterans could see the largest increase in their monthly compensation payments in decades when the next cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is implemented early next year.
Forecasters predict that rising inflation will cause payments to jump by as much as 8 to 10 percent, reflecting the COLA determined by the Social Security Administration.
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Once that figure is announced in October, those who receive military retirement pay or indemnity and disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can expect an increase in their monthly payment by January, said Mike Meese, president of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association.
The annual COLA is calculated using Consumer Price Index (CPI) data comparing the cost of certain goods and services to what they cost the previous year.
If the 2023 COLA increase is determined to be 9 percent, a 100 percent disabled married veteran would see their payments increase by $316, from $3,517 to $3,833 per month, Meese estimates. A Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer who retired at the E-8 pay grade would receive a $456 jump, from $5,069 to $5,525 monthly.
“The key thing for veterans as well as retirees is to take advantage of the substantial government benefits that are available to them,” says Meese. “If their conditions have worsened since they left the military, they can always go back to the VA and have those conditions reassessed to see if their compensation may be increased.”
A prime time for scammers
Once the COLA is announced, Meese expects scammers to prey on military communities by posing as the VA or a phony benefit support service and trying to deceive veterans into turning over their accounts or divulging their personal information so they can seize the accounts themselves.