VETERANS CORNER: Election, SSI and COLA time

by Gary Kennedy

This is election time and also an SSI and Veteran COLA time. (Cost of Living Adjustment). The veterans historically receive the same as SSI recipients. This is usually what occurs in the fiscal year, October 1. As it stands now the percentage relied upon is using the Consumer Price Index and as it stands at this time it looks like the increase will only be 1.6 percent which is not a whole heck of a lot. Defined, this is an increase in Social Security benefits to counteract inflation. This automatic annual COLA began in 1975.

The largest COLA was in 1980 at 14.3 percent. The new COLA will affect 69 million Americans. I personally believe this COLA is based on a better quarter than we are in. In any case veterans will receive the same. So the way I figure it veterans will receive approximately an additional $38.80. Not a thrilling amount and that is based on 100 percent service connection. If your check is less, then, of course, that amount will go down. Just multiply your check by 1.6 percent and that will be your increase. The origin of this was basically a grocery issue. Not news I like to share but that is the way of it.

Bernie Sanders in 2015 found that the cost of living amount if any was outrageous; I have addressed this issue with Sen. Susan Collins and with President Donald Trump. We’ll have to see what the outcome is. I believe someone should take issue with this as in regards to our elderly, disabled and veterans. The amount given to SSI recipients is based on an average of approximately $1,500 monthly, with an increase of $24. The maximum base is fixed for SSI at this figure. Most Vietnam era disabled veterans also receive SSI so they receive both.

Other issues which veterans have discussed with me regard the political theater in this election year. I advocate for veterans to help them get health care as well as monetary benefits. I do a lot of that, and I have for 47 years. I have always used senatorial offices to aid my veterans. I was very impressed with our first female senator Margaret Chase Smith. She was the first female senator and she didn’t play games. There were several things that impressed me but the one that started my relationship with that office was, she was given the designation of “Mother of the Waves” for her efforts to advance women in the military (Navy).

I started using that office when Sen. Olympia Snowe who was the second woman and of Greek origin, become senator. She was easy to deal with and didn’t care about my political stand. I don’t believe in all the years I dealt with John Cummings, her right hand man, I was ever asked about my political views. I went there only for veteran issues, with much success.

Now we have Senator Susan Collins who likewise has aided me and veterans that I have sent there with very good success at dealing with our issues. She gave her blessing to the homeless housing and the hospitality house at Togus V.A. I have never found others to be as accessible.

Sen. Collins said in the beginning she would only serve two terms but has served 23 years, to date. Veterans and S.S.I. recipients have benefited from this. Many veterans fear they might lose this support as this will be the second time she has stepped away from her party. The race for the Senate looks like a dead heat between her and Sarah Gideon. Whoever wins, I promise I will remain loyal to my commitment to veterans and will seek the aid of whomever to benefit them and SSI.

Since veterans also receive SSI, I have asked the proper questions regarding this and Medical Stands. Nothing will change to harm you. Unfortunately, politics can be a nasty business as we have seen in both state and federal elections. Just because we are retired we should not live in fear. There are many good politicians out there that have elderly family members. I am very active with all of this and more and I see no negative changes on our horizon. I, like you, depend on my check and Medicare. Veterans, I hope this gives you information and answers your questions. Don’t worry Maine, all will work out. God bless you and God bless America.


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