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VA disability on COLA 2023 adjustment: is there an increase for military retirement?

The Social Security Administration announced another record cost-of-living adjustment for beneficiaries which will also affect VA payments in 2023.

Update:
Military retirees and disabled veterans get 8.7% pay increase
Tom WilliamsGetty

Disabled veterans and military retirees will see their monthly checks get a boost in 2023. The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the biggest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) since 1981 after the September 2022 inflation report was released.

Military pensions and disability payments, like most other similar government payments, are required by law to use SSA calculation to keep benefits in line with rising prices. Starting in January 2023, an 8.7 percent increase will be applied to monthly payments surpassing last year’s 5.9 percent bump.

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How will the 2023 COLA affect military pensions?

For military retirees that didn’t opt for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan), they will see an additional $87 per $1,000 that they receive from their pension. Those that enlisted after 31 July 1986 and took the $30,000 CSB/Redux bonus on their 15th year of active service will see a smaller COLA of $77 increase per $1,000. Those receiving Survivor Benefit Plan payments will also receive the COLA increase starting January 2023.

How much will veteran disability payments be in 2023?

While the official figures from Veteran Affairs won’t be out until 1 December 2022, disabled veterans will also benefit from the 2023 COLA boost to monthly payments. Using the 2022 VA disability pay chart, those with a 10 percent rating should see a raise of $13.28 per month next year increasing their monthly payments to $165.92.

Can you get both Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits?

Since 1957, Social Security has covered all active duty military service and active duty training members, and was expanded in 1988 to include those on inactive duty service in the armed forces reserves.

As such, you can get both the standard military retirement payments from the VA and Social Security benefits. The two are independent programs, meaning that there is no reduction of your Social Security entitlement because of retirement benefits. The size of your Social Security benefits is based on your work history, earnings level and the age at which you chose to start claiming the payments.

What is the point of the COLA increase?

The COLA increase is designed to keep the monthly benefits in line with inflation as the cost of living rises year-on-year. The price of goods and services rises over time so benefits programs like Social Security must reflect that.

How is the COLA calculated?

The SSA calculates the annual cost-of-living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Put together by the BLS, the CPI-W is a measure of how the cost of goods and services changes over time.

By comparing the CPI-W in the third quarters (July, August and September) of the current and previous year, the SSA determines how much benefits need to increase by in the coming 12 months to avoid falling behind the rate of inflation.

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