VETERANS CORNER: VA pay hikes, veterans benefit increases explained

by Gary Kennedy

There is a lot of interest on the upcoming VA pay increases, veteran’s percentage of increase and Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). I will share with you what I know and perhaps extrapolate some to use as filler. However, I should be very close. COLA is Cost of Living Increase.

We are all aware of what percentage we are being paid. Our range is from (0-100) percent. For the sake of argument, zero basically is VA’s way of saying that they accept the applied for condition as service connected/ aggravated. However, it may be used with another value somewhere in your ratings or it just doesn’t quite reach a value of meaningful substance, monetarily speaking. That is one item I always address for clarity with a Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO). This value might change with time or you can ask your V.S.O. about the substance of the matter. I touched on this last week but I will try to clear some things up.

Always keep an open mind and respectful tongue when speaking with a Service Officer as they are on your side and will give you good, professional advice and opinions. For the most part they have great training and carry great knowledge regarding veteran’s issues. You definitely want him/her on your side. In developing your claim they are the doorways to your success, they know veterans, veteran’s issues and many are veterans themselves. Their days are long and hard. They are dealing with issues which require a cool/calm manner and an up-to-date intellect. You want them to be your friends as well as your advisers.

So let me try and explain your pay check for 2024, which is paid on January 1, 2024. So, an extrapolation on my part is the amount of this coming COLA, Cost of Living Adjustment, on top of your current monthly check. This by the way also applies to your Social Security check. I have seen a couple of percentage increases but I choose to use the lesser of the two. “3.1 percent” Example: a 100 percent disabled veteran in receipt of $3,823.89, in this case has a wife. So, you would multiply the COLA amount by that figure ($3,823.89 X 3.1 percent). This should equal $3,823.89+118.54= $3,942.43. I believe I am pretty close with the math. Of course, we realize not all veterans are rated at 100 percent but the process remains the same. Just multiply your current check by 3.1 percent and then add the result to your current check. This will give you your amount of monthly income for 2024. Remember, do the same with your Social Security check and the result will be your SS monthly income for 2024 as well.

In regards to Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) that is an entirely different issue. Some veterans are in receipt of monthly income over and above the 100 percentile of monthly rating. The reason for this is the veteran’s higher rate of need, due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by someone else or because of a specific disabilities. Examples would be the loss of use of a hand or foot or the need for aid and Attendance. If you have a 100 percent disability and have an additional disability which can be rated at 60 percent or more you could be eligible for more. If you are housebound this would give you a higher amount of income. This means you are pretty much confined to your home. From here it tends to become complicated as some situations can take you to R-1, R-2 which allows the veteran nine to ten thousand dollars per month. If you are confined to a wheel chair and require a caregiver or Aide and attendance you will require special considerations. The V.S.O. can explain all of this.

My advice is, if I haven’t answered your questions then call Togus VA and speak with a V.S.O. You can make an appointment to go in. You can use or call direct at 207-621-6938 and make an appointment to visit. If you go there be prepared with what your mission entails so the officers can be prepared to help you, it saves a lot of time. Also, have a copy of your D.D. 214 and/or your VA card. If you want to discuss something with me you can use

I have shared with you in generality. Specifics are more complicated and are better served by Veteran’s Services, bldg. 248, Togus. If you know a lonely veteran, you know what to do. Sharing what you have will leave you with a wonderful feeling and most likely a true friend for life.

I will discuss more next time. Have a safe and happy end of summer weekend. God Bless.

Gary Kennedy is a freelance contributor to The Town Line. His views are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.


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