Veterans with the highest ratings will see an almost $100 bump in disability pay each month starting in 2019, the largest increase since 2012.
That 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which kicks in Jan. 1, was made official Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Military retirement, other VA disability benefits, Social Security and federal civilian retirement will see that same increase.
For veterans with a 10 percent disability rating, that bump brings monthly compensation from $136.24 to $140.05 each month, while a veteran entitled to 100 percent disability will go from $2,973.86 to $3,057.13 monthly.
Veterans with a 30 percent disability ranking or higher are entitled to greater amounts if they have dependents. A 100 percent-disabled veteran with spouse and two children will see their monthly payment increase to $3,437.10. Veterans can also get increased payments if they have a child over 18 attending school, or if they have a disabled spouse.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) will also see a 2.8 percent raise in 2019. SMC is paid in addition to regular disability compensation to a veteran who suffered the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities as a result of their service.
Like most federal benefits, disability compensation rate increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses.
The CPI is compared to the previous year's numbers. If there is an increase, a cost-of-living adjustment is made. If there is no increase, there is no COLA.
In 2018, the COLA was 2.0 percent; in 2017, retirees saw a 0.3 percent increase. There was no increase at all in 2016. The last time COLA increased by more than 2.8 percent was 2012, when compensation rates got a 3.6 percent hike.
Federal benefits have been calculated this way since 1975.
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."