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VA disability on COLA 2024 adjustment: is there an increase for military retirement?

The Social Security Administration will soon announce its cost of living adjustment for benefits which will include support for veterans.

Darrell Bush, 96, left, a former US Army Staff Sgt., from Camp Springs, Maryland, and a WWII veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, places a flower with his wife Dorothy Bush, during a centennial commemoration event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arl
Alex BrandonAFP

Disabled veterans and military retirees will see their monthly checks get a boost in 2024. Military pensions and disability payments, like most other similar government payments, are required by law to use Social Security Administration (SSA) calculation to keep benefits in line with rising prices.

The cost of living adjustment (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.

Starting in January 2024, a likely 3.2 percent increase will be applied to monthly payments.

How will the 2024 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 $32 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 increase .

Those receiving Survivor Benefit Plan payments will also receive the COLA increase starting January 2023.

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.

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.