Baucus, Tester pass cost-of-living increase for Montana’s veterans

Boost will affect nearly 17,000 Montanans

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana’s two U.S.Senators have helped pass a cost-of-living increase for nearly 17,000 Montanans who rely on VA disability or survivor benefits.

Max Baucus and Jon Tester supported the VA’s annual cost-of-living adjustment this week. When signed into law, the measure will increase annual compensation rates for veterans with service-connected disabilities, veterans with certain severe disabilities, and disabled veterans with spouses and children. Surviving spouses and children of vets who died from service-connected injuries will also see an increase in benefits.

The exact amount of the increase will be determined in October, based on the Third Quarter Consumer Price Index. It is expected to be about 2.5 percent.

“Our veterans laid their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoyed as Montanans and Americans – they shouldn’t now have to fight for what they deserve,” Baucus said. “I’m proud to work together with Jon to make sure our veterans they receive the benefits they need and should receive.”

“It shouldn’t take an act of Congress for Montana’s veterans to get the benefits they deserve and were promised,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “We’re trying to get that changed. But until then I’m glad the Senate did the right thing by approving this fair increase.”

Tester has introduced legislation to make the VA’s cost-of-living adjustment automatic every year, so veterans don’t have to rely on annual legislation.

The measure passed by Baucus and Tester is S. 2617, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2008.