What Does the Latest Cost-of-Living Adjustment Mean for VA Benefits?



An inflation-adjusted federal Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will increase military retirees’ and disabled veterans’ monthly checks by 8.7 percent in 2023. This post will highlight what COLA is, who can claim the benefits, and how a Veterans Affairs-accredited attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process.

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Who is eligible for the 2023 COLA Increase? 

In simplest terms, everyone who benefits from Social Security disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will benefit from the COLA increase in 2023. The COLA for VA disability in 2023, therefore, will specifically affect two groups. The first would be disabled veterans receiving VA disability compensation. The other would be retired veterans with Social Security or VA pension benefits.

How COLA is determined

The COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is itself based upon the average cost of living in the United States, determined by a “basket of goods,” an estimation of what Americans spend their money on in a year. 

Naturally, as inflation occurs, the value of that basket of goods will decrease. This is where COLA comes into play. In simplest terms, COLA is a percentage increase for all benefits that come from the federal government. It’s essential to understand that the percentage increase from COLA isn’t standardized and is adjusted yearly depending on inflation. 

For example, in 2020, the annual Cost of Living Adjustment was only an increase of 1.3 percent. The COLA increase for 2023, however, will be close to 9 percent, reflecting the current high inflation. This is of significant interest to any veteran or retiree receiving federal benefits, whether from the VA or Social Security. 

What factors determine your VA disability claims

The COLA increase for 2023 will affect payments to all disabled and retired veterans. However, as these groups well know, not all disabled veterans currently receive the same payments.

Many complex factors go into deciding what VA payments look like, which you can browse here. These factors are used to determine a “VA Disability Rating,” typically represented in a percentage. 

Obviously, all disabilities are severe in some way or another. So how do you know what affects the determination of your own VA disability rating? There are three main factors to consider. 

First is the severity of the disability—how much the symptoms of your disability impact your overall quality of life. The other factors are the frequency and duration of your symptoms. Generally, the more the symptoms affect your daily living, the greater your VA disability rating.

How a VA-certified attorney can help

With the COLA increase for this year, there’s a significant incentive for veterans and their families to make sure they’re maximizing benefits. At the same time, it’s also essential for these interested parties that their veteran disability rates be as high as possible.

Arguing for a higher rate can be an intimidating process. This is where a VA-certified attorney can help. By providing you with legal advice and representation, they can make sure you’re getting fair and equitable claims. If you’d like to start the process of getting in contact with a VA attorney, make sure to fill out a free evaluation to speak to our local attorneys, or contact us today.