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Disabled Vets, Military Retirees May See Large Payment Increase in 2023

Higher payments likely to attract scam offers

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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.

Anyone due to receive a new monthly payment in 2023 should receive a notification in the mail or on their account statement. However, Meese recommends checking your account status and verifying your demographic information in advance. Military retirees can visit MyPay.dfas.mil and disability beneficiaries can log in at VA.gov to do so.

“What you want to make sure is that they have all of your accurate information,” he says. “If you moved, changed banks or have a new email address, you want to make sure that is kept up to date, so that nobody could impersonate you or potentially try to divert your benefits.”

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Be aware that the VA will never call and ask for specific information. If anyone calls saying they’re from the VA, take their information down and either verify it online or call the VA back at its main information line (800-698-2411). Other ways to contact the agency are on the VA’s Contact Us page.

Almost anytime the agency needs information from veterans, it sends a letter on official government letterhead with a contact phone number. “Anybody who’s calling you out of the blue, I would be very suspicious that they could very well be a scammer,” says Meese.

Recertify marriage if disability rating is 30 percent or higher

Veterans who are married and have at least a 30 percent disability rating are entitled to additional financial compensation. However, the VA may request information to recertify your marriage.

In some instances, that extra dependency compensation is lost when a request to recertify a marriage is sent to an old address and goes unacknowledged. To be safe, Meese recommends checking your marriage certification every year so the VA doesn’t falsely think a divorce or a death has occurred. Log in to your account at VA.gov to review your information. 

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to indicate the estimated pay increase of a military retiree.