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Pentagon announces 2.8% benefits raise for military vets, survivors

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook briefs reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon. (Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/Department of Defense)
November 08, 2018
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Military retirees and survivors will see a pay increase starting New Year’s Day 2019.

Retired veterans and military survivors will receive a 2.8-percent pay increase, effective Jan. 1, 2019, a Pentagon news release said Tuesday.

“Most military retirees will receive a 2.8-percent increase to their retired pay beginning with the pay they receive on Jan. 1, 2019,” the Pentagon release said.

“Likewise, survivors of members who died on active or inactive duty, or survivors of military retirees who participate in the Survivor Benefit Plan, will, in most cases, see a 2.8 percent increase to their annuities beginning in January,” the release added.

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Survivors who receive the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) will also have their SSIA payments increased by the 2.8 percent, up to a maximum payable amount of $318.

The SSIA was made permanent by the 2018 defense budget, Military.com reported. It was introduced in 2008 as a temporary benefit to provide partial reimbursement for reduced Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments to those also receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments.

The 2.8 increase will be applied to those receiving benefits before Jan. 1, 2018. Those who received benefits after that date, as well as those on a REDUX retirement plan, will receive smaller pay increases based on pay tables in the recently released DoD memorandum.

The 2.8-percent Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for 2019 is the highest to take place since the 3.6-percent increase in 2011.

COLA is adjusted based on “the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the four quarters ending with the third calendar quarter of 2018 (July, August, and September 2018), and generally go into effect for all pay received beginning in January 2019.”

This method is intended to maintain the value of benefit payments despite inflation.

COLA increases are also the legally mandated standard of increase for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. More than 67 million Americans receiving these benefits will also receive a 2.8-percent increase next year, according to the Social Security Administration.

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The Social Security Administration announced the COLA increase last month, serving as the baseline for VA benefit payouts.

“So many veterans rely on disability compensation payments to make ends meet, and this cost-of-living adjustment means that they will be able to continue to do so,” said Rep. Phil Roe, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

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