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THE PACT ACT OF 2022
President Biden is delivering on his promise to strengthen health care and benefits for
America’s veterans and their survivors by signing the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath
Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
Named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, a decorated combat medic who died
from a rare form of lung cancer, this historic legislation will help deliver more timely benefits
and services to more than 5 million veterans—across all generations—who may have been
impacted by toxic exposures while serving our country.
The below hyperlinks describe in detail what exactly the PACT ACT covers and explains in detail
how to file a claim, and a timeline from when the PACT ACT was first introduced until it
passages on August 10,2022.
Military Retiree and Disability Pay Increase 2023
Military retirees and disabled veterans will see their monthly checks increase by 8.7% for 2023, thanks to an annual adjustment to the federal Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) due to inflation.
This will be the largest increase since 1981 Retirees saw a 5.9% increase in 2022 and 1.3% in 2021; the annual adjustment has averaged 1.9% for the last 10 years.
The COLA increase was announced by the Social Security Administration. Most government disability and retirement payments are required by law to increase annually by the same amount.
Retirement Pay Increase
For 2023, retired military members will see a $87 increase for each $1,000 of military retirement pension they receive each month.
Retirees who entered military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986, and opted for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan) will have any COLA increases reduced by 1%, so they will see a smaller increase of $77 per $1,000 in 2023.
Survivors receiving Survivor Benefit Plan payments will see their payments increase by the same amount as retirees.
VA Disability Increase
Disabled veterans will also see their benefit payments increase in the upcoming year. The average VA disability check will go up about $13.28 per month for those with a 10% rating, and $289.89 for those rated at 100%.
For Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will mean an extra $145 per month for the average beneficiary.
How the COLA Is Determined
Each year, military retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan Annuities, VA Compensation and Pensions, and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation.
The Department of Labor determines the annual COLA by measuring the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measurement of a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year; if there is an increase, there is a COLA. If there is no increase, there is no COLA; benefits will remain the same – not decrease.
The COLA increase affects about one in every five Americans.
Retirement and VA Disability Pay Offset
Military retirees with combined VA disability ratings of 40% or lower whose injuries are not combat related can only receive that amount in either their retirement pension or their disability check – but not both. That rule is known as an “offset” and is a matter of law. Since disability pay isn’t subject to the federal income tax but retirement pay is, most veterans elect to receive it instead of their retirement pension for the offset amount.
That means even though both retirement and disability payments will see the COLA increase, some veterans will benefit from only one, not both.
Benefits Committee Update 12.12.22
As the spouse or dependent child of a Veteran or service member, you may qualify for certain benefits, like health care, life insurance, or money to help pay for school or training. As the survivor of a Veteran or service member, you may qualify for added benefits, including help with burial costs and survivor compensation.
This is basic info and I have highlighted some answers to common questions, and as always if you have questions, please see a veteran service officer or someone on the Veterans Committee and we will get you the info or in touch with someone who can help.
Am I eligible for education benefits?
You may be eligible for VA education benefits (Chapter 35 benefits) if you’re the child or spouse of a service member and one of these descriptions listed is true of the service member.
One of these must be true:
- The service member died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, or
- The service member is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
- The service member was detained (held) by force while in the line of duty by a foreign government or power, or
- The service member is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability, and is likely to be discharged for that disability. A service-connected permanent and total disability is a disability resulting from your service that doesn’t go away.
You may be eligible for VA education benefits (Chapter 35 benefits) if you’re the child or spouse of a Veteran and one of these descriptions listed is true of the Veteran.
One of these must be true:
- The Veteran is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
- The Veteran died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability
If you’re a dependent who doesn’t meet the above criteria, you may still qualify for VA education benefits if the Veteran or service member transferred some or all of their Post-9/11 GI Bill entitlement to you while they were on active duty.
Different programs cover Veterans (VGLI), service members (SGLI), and family members (FSGLI). You may also be able to get short-term financial coverage through TSGLI to help you recover from a traumatic (severe) injury. And if you’re disabled because of an injury or illness caused—or made worse—by your active service, you may be able to get coverage through S-DVI to continue your life insurance beyond 2 years after you leave the military.
Note: If you’re ending your military tour of duty soon, you’ll need to get new coverage quickly. In some cases, you must act within 120 days of leaving the military to be sure there’s no break in your coverage.
Who’s eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery?
Veterans, service members, spouses, and dependents may be eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery, as well as other benefits, if they meet one of these requirements.
One of these must be true:
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is a Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is a service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is the spouse or minor child of a Veteran, even if the Veteran died first, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is in some cases, the unmarried adult dependent child of a Veteran
Am I eligible for allowances to help pay for a Veteran’s burial and funeral costs?
You may be eligible for Veterans burial allowances if you’re paying for the burial and funeral costs and you won’t be reimbursed by any other organization, like another government agency or the Veteran’s employer. You must also meet all of these requirements.
One of these relationships or professional roles describes your connection to the Veteran:
- You’re the Veteran’s surviving spouse (Note: We recognize same-sex marriages.), or
- You’re the surviving partner from a legal union (a relationship made formal in a document issued by the state recognizing the union), or
- You’re a surviving child of the Veteran, or
- You’re a parent of the Veteran, or
- You’re the executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate (someone who officially represents the Veteran)
The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and one of these circumstances must be true:
- The Veteran died as a result of a service-connected disability (a disability related to service), or
- The Veteran died while getting VA care, either at a VA facility or at a facility contracted by VA, or
- The Veteran died while traveling with proper authorization, and at VA’s expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care, or
- The Veteran died with an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death, if they would’ve been entitled to benefits before the time of death, or
- The Veteran died while receiving a VA pension or compensation, or
- The Veteran died while eligible for a VA pension or compensation at time of death, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay
- The Veteran had been getting a VA pension or compensation when they died, or
- The Veteran had chosen to get military retired pay instead of compensation
Note: We’ll also provide an allowance for the cost of transporting a Veteran’s remains for burial in a national cemetery.
You can’t get burial allowances for certain individuals
We don’t provide burial allowances if the individual died:
- On active duty, or
- While serving as a member of Congress, or
- While serving a federal prison sentence
Am I eligible for VA DIC as a surviving spouse or dependent?
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As a surviving spouse
You may be eligible for VA benefits or compensation if you meet these requirements.
One of these must be true:
- You lived with the Veteran or service member without a break until their death, or
- If you’re separated, you weren’t at fault for the separation
And one of these must be true:
- You married the Veteran or service member within 15 years of their discharge from the period of military service during which the qualifying illness or injury started or got worse, or
- You were married to the Veteran or service member for at least 1 year, or
- You had a child with the Veteran or service member
Note: If you remarried, you can receive or continue to receive compensation if one of these describes you:
- You remarried on or after December 16, 2003, and you were 57 years of age or older at the time you remarried, or
- You remarried on or after January 5, 2021, and you were 55 years of age or older at the time you remarried
You’ll need to provide evidence with your claim showing that one of these descriptions is true for the Veteran or service member. Evidence may include documents like military service records, doctor’s reports, and medical test results.
Provide evidence showing that one of these is true:
- The service member died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training, or
- The Veteran died from a service-connected illness or injury, or
- The Veteran didn’t die from a service-connected illness or injury, but was eligible to receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability rated as totally disabling for a certain period of time
If the Veteran’s eligibility was due to a rating of totally disabling, they must have had this rating:
- For at least 10 years before their death, or
- Since their release from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately before their death, or
- For at least 1 year before their death if they were a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999
Note: “Totally disabling” means the Veteran’s injuries made it impossible for them to work.