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Veterans to receive 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase

SUN Columnist

Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime veterans.”

For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar.  Until this year, that was required by law.  Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.

For veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent.  The full rates are available on the Internet at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.

The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.

Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits.  The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.

In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 veterans and survivors.

For veterans and separating servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits.

Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

Thanks

Many thanks to Yerton Plumbing for the work done at the American Legion Post home, to repair our system and put it in working order.

Further information

For further Information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regular scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 0900-1200.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 1400.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 0830 to 1000 every Thursday.

• Home visits/Pine Ridge outreach, second and fourth Thursdays, back at 1400.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans, leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

The following Veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday, 6 p.m. St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

• Point Man Ministries’ Breakfast for Veterans 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Vincent:  (435) 618-0049, Vfortunato777@gmail.com.

• The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

This story was posted on December 19, 2013.