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How Pay Raises Impact Disabled Veterans – A Comprehensive Overview

Each year, those who receive military retirement pay and VA disability compensation receive an increase in their monthly payments. This is known as the COLA.

Last year, veterans and Social Security recipients saw the most significant jump in their COLAs since the 1980s. They can expect a similar increase in 2024.


Veterans who receive disability payments through the VA are likely to get a cost of living increase next year. The growth results from the VA Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2023 and is designed to help veterans keep up with inflation.

The VA assigns a disability rating to Veterans based on the percentage of an injury or illness acquired in service that impacts their lifetime earning capacity. These ratings range from 0% to 100% and are determined through an internal review of a combination of service treatment records, private medical records related to the disability, and VA disability examinations.

Many disabled veterans also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The government’s decision to approve a pay raise for disabled veterans is a positive step toward acknowledging their service and providing increased financial support for their needs. These tax-free benefits provide additional income to support themselves and their families. In addition, SSI and SSDI provide health care coverage. The VA assigns a separate disability rating for these programs; in most cases, you can only receive one at a time.


Veterans with service-connected disabilities may qualify for compensation, including a tax-free monthly payment and access to full-service health care at no cost. The VA may also pay for travel and other expenses and a clothing allowance. In addition, a disabled veteran or surviving spouse may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC).

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) periodically evaluates and adjusts disability payout rates to keep pace with inflation and rising costs. This is called a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). In 2023, the VA paid its disabled vets an additional 8.7% due to the COLA increase passed last year, the most significant bump in years.

Disabled veterans should always review their benefit eligibility as family situations change, such as a new marriage, the birth of a child, or the death of a dependent parent. Reporting these changes to the VA immediately is essential to avoid missed payments or overpayments.

Hiring Managers

Each year, inflation erodes the purchasing power of the US dollar. To combat this, the VA offers cost-of-living adjustments that increase disabled veterans’ disability payments to keep pace with inflation.

In 2023, the COLA is expected to be 3.2 percent. For disabled veterans with a 100% rating, their monthly compensation rates will jump by 8.7 percent.

VA disability compensation is a tax-free payment compensating former military service members with a qualifying illness or injury. This includes service-connected disabilities incurred during military service, as well as preexisting conditions that were exacerbated by active duty.

In addition, eligible Veterans receive special monthly compensation (SMC) to help pay for their additional needs, like the cost of a live-in nurse. Veterans also receive preference in the hiring process, meaning they are placed at the top of certification lists for noncompetitive positions. They can convert these noncompetitive appointments to career or career-conditional at any time. Preference is awarded to those with a service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.


If you are a disabled veteran, your monthly compensation depends on the severity of your service-connected condition and other factors. Many veterans who have severe disabilities, such as those missing limbs or suffering from severe depression, will qualify for individual unemployability (IU) payments.

The VA will review your condition and assign a disability rating based on internal medical records, comparing your symptoms to diagnostic codes. Combined ratings from multiple states determine your total disability rating and compensation amount.

The VA annually adjusts its rates to keep pace with inflation. This year, veterans and their families are set to receive a 5.7% cost-of-living adjustment. This is the most significant increase in more than 30 years. It will help offset the impact of high inflation. The COLA is also tied to Social Security’s annual growth. This prevents veterans’ benefits from falling behind the rest of society. This means you can expect a higher cost of living for your VA payments in 2024.

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