November 1, 2002, 08:00:00 AM
WASHINGTON – Monthly compensation for 3.3 million veterans and survivors will increase 1.4 percent in December.
The annual cost of living increase in veterans benefits matches the increase to Social Security beneficiaries using a formula that considers the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.
"Part of the nation's commitment to care for veterans disabled in service to their country and to aid their survivors is to ensure those benefits keep up with inflation," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi said.
The increase in payment rates was provided by the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2002, which was signed by President Bush on October 23.
The 1.4 percent increase will first appear in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) payments received in January that reflect benefits earned in December, when the increase becomes effective.
Those affected by the increase include 2.4 million veterans receiving compensation for disabilities sustained or made worse during their military service, as well as 347,000 wartime veterans who are totally disabled from civilian-life causes and who receive a pension under an income-based program.
The increase also will go to 310,000 survivors of veterans who died in service or from a service-connected condition and another 239,000 who are served by an income-based program for survivors of wartime veterans.
Most veterans and survivors will receive their increased VA compensation or pension through direct deposit, which VA encourages because of its superior security over mailed checks.
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