Every year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) office adjusts the amount of aid offered to help keep up with the cost of living. On June 14, 2023, President Joe Biden signed into law the Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act of 2023. This bi-partisan bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for Veterans benefits in 2024 equal to the COLA applied to Social Security benefits, as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).Typically, VA increases average around 2 percent. This year, veterans and their families received an 8.7 percent increase, the highest since 1993.
Which VA Benefits Increase?
The COLA increases many VA benefits, including disability compensation, clothing allowance for some disabled veterans, survivorship pension compensation, and burial benefits.
Under the new COLA guidelines, disability compensation increases by 8.7 percent. In dollar amounts, a disabled veteran with a ten percent VA rating (and no dependents) can expect about $13.28 more each month. A 100 percent disabled veteran with no dependents will receive $300 more monthly.
Spouses and dependent, unmarried children of qualifying veterans receive a COLA of 8.7 percent on survivorship pension benefits.
New Changes to VA Burial Allowance
The non-service-connected burial rate increased by nearly $600 from the 2022 rate to an all-time high of $893. The VA’s burial allowance now matches the amount the government pays for a plot.
Qualifying family members may apply for a burial allowance within two years after a non-service-connected death. There is no time limit to file for service-connected transportation or burial, plot, and interment allowance.
The VA gives qualified veterans or their eligible family members a financial break on burial, funeral, and cremation costs. Some of these benefits include:
- An allowance for burial, funeral, or cremation costs
- An allowance for the internment, plot, or grave marker
- Transportation reimbursement for transporting the remains to a final resting place
Burial benefits are the highest they’ve ever been right now. If you think you might be eligible for benefits you don’t currently receive, consider contacting the VA or a funeral provider in your area with experience helping veterans.
For more information about VA Burial Allowance, please visit the VA’s website.
Expanded Eligibility for VA Burial Transportation Money
More military families now qualify for the VA burial transportation allowance. The VA pays to transport a veteran’s remains from the place of death to the location of burial if the following is true:
- Veteran’s date of death is on or after January 5, 2023
- Death occurs within a state
- Place of burial is in a state
- Veteran meets any of the following:
- The veteran’s remains are unclaimed
- At the time of death, the veteran received VA disability compensation, military retired pay in place of disability compensation, or VA Pension (also called Non-Service-Connected Pension)
Transportation benefits for death while in VA care are always paid if the veteran dies in a VA Medical facility or another facility approved under VA expense.
Other Improvements in VA Benefits
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for service members exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.
One of the most extensive health care and benefits expansions in VA history, the PACT Act expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 events. Veterans or survivors can learn more and file claims here.
The VA can help pay for a specially equipped vehicle for veterans whose service-connected disability prevents them from driving. The vehicle allowance is a one-time special benefit of $24,115.12.
Some veterans qualify for a one-time or annual clothing allowance. This money helps service-connected disabled veterans replace clothes that a prosthetic or orthopedic device damages.
Do VA Benefits Allow You to Plan Ahead?
The VA’s office offers burial benefits as a reimbursement after the celebration of life. Because of this, there is no reason veterans can’t plan ahead for their funeral in advance for fear of missing out on their benefits. It’s essential for either the veteran or their family to look into eligibility early if they are interested in burial in a national cemetery. You can use this VA form to apply for pre-need eligibility.
Preplanning and preneed services are your tools for ensuring your family’s peace of mind even when you’re not around. Making arrangements in advance ensures your wishes are honored and spares your family from additional stress during a difficult time. It’s a thoughtful gesture that provides comfort and clarity when needed.
These enhanced VA benefits signify more than just financial assistance – they represent the recognition of our veterans’ sacrifices and dedication. Many ShareLife providers are certified Veteran’s Funeral Specialists. They are trained and certified to ensure veterans receive all the benefits, assistance, certificates, and awards available at their passing.