House Passes Bill to Adjust Cost of Living, Expedite Benefits Payments for Veterans | Law Firm Newswire

House Passes Bill to Adjust Cost of Living, Expedite Benefits Payments for Veterans

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 25, 2015 - The House passed legislation on July 28 to speed up federal payments to veterans who have complex benefits claims and to raise the benefits compensation rate for disabled veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be required to pay benefits to veterans as parts of their claim are processed instead of waiting until the entire case is finished. According to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the typical benefits claim for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans is made up of eight components. She said the measure would “allow veterans to receive at least some of the benefits they earned in a timely manner.”

A bill was also passed for a cost-of-living increase in 2016 to VA-offered benefits for disabled veterans, to be released in October. Cost-of-living adjustments for veterans’ disability benefits are made to match inflation and must be approved by Congress each year. In 2015, the cost-of-living adjustment was 1.7 percent, representing an increase of around $20 per month for Social Security recipients. The adjustment affects benefits for around four million disabled veterans.

“Millions of disabled veterans and their families rely on income from VA benefits to pay for food, housing and other essentials. Therefore, it is necessary for the payments to match the rate of inflation. The measure to reduce wait times for benefits will also help veterans make ends meet,” said David Magann, a Florida-based veterans attorney.

Lawmakers also made a provision that would require the VA to pay the accrued benefits of a deceased veteran to their estate. Currently, the benefits are paid out to the family members of veterans who have passed away, such as a dependent child or a spouse. However, the department retains the benefits if the veteran dies without surviving family members who qualify to continue receiving payments.

“The move ensures that the VA does not cancel or withhold payments before it has identified all beneficiaries related to the veteran that could potentially be eligible,” said Magann.

David W. Magann, P.A.
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Brandon, FL 33511
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