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Maui Now : Veterans’ COLA Act Becomes Law

President Donald Trump signed the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2018 last week, legislation co-authored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

The new law provides a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for the rates of veterans’ disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children.

“VA disability compensation and other benefits earned through their service, provide a critical lifeline for millions of veterans and their families around the country, including thousands in Hawai‘i,” said Sen. Hirono said. “The much needed COLA increase made possible by the Veterans’ COLA Adjustment Act helps fulfill our duty to provide the men and women who served our nation in uniform with compensation that keeps pace with a rising cost of living.”

“Many Hawai‘i veterans and their families rely on their disability compensation and other earned VA benefits to make ends meet,” said Ron Han, director of the State of Hawai‘i Office of Veterans Services. “Much appreciation to Sen. Hirono for her dedicated work and advocacy in enacting this long-overdue cost-of-living adjustment.”

Under the law, which is effective Dec. 1, 2018, the new rates for these U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs will be increased by 2.8%, the largest increase since 2012 and consistent with the 2019 COLA increase for Social Security. For a veteran receiving $1,500 a month in benefits payments, the COLA increase equates to an additional $500 over the course of the year. According to the VA, there were over 27,000 disability compensation recipients in Hawai‘i during Fiscal Year 2017.

As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sen. Hirono has a long record of fighting to increase and improve veterans’ compensation. Hirono has cosponsored Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment laws every year since her Senate term began in 2013. In 2016, her Veterans’ Survivors Claims Processing Automation Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama as part of the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act (Public Law 114-315).

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