NewsBytes October 14, 2022    

In this issue:
2023 COLA Announced
Annual Veterans COLA Sent to President 
Veterans Suicide Declining 

2023 COLA Announced
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently announced that the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for 2023 will be 8.7 percent. Historically, increases at or above 8.7 percent have occurred only three times. All those hikes happened decades ago — from 1979 to 1981 — and were during times of high inflation.

The new COLA rate is effective Dec. 1, 2022, and the adjustment will appear in Dec. 30, 2022, payments. This increase pertains to military retirees, veterans receiving disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security recipients and others. 

By law, COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education. 

Annual Veterans COLA Sent to President 
The Senate passed, the “Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act” (H.R.7846) and it will be sent to the president’s desk for his signature. Certain VA benefits including disability compensation, clothing allowances, and dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors will receive the same cost-of-living adjustment as Social Security benefits. The adjustment will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2022, and the first checks to reflect the new rate will be on Dec. 31, 2022. The annual Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) for retirees is automatic and does not require legislative action.  

VA Report: Veterans Suicide Declining 
The recently released Department of Veterans Affairs 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report shows that veteran suicides decreased in 2020 for the second year in a row. Fewer veterans died by suicide in 2020 than in any year since 2006. In 2020, there were 6,146 veteran suicide deaths, which was 343 fewer than in 2019. The unadjusted rate of suicide in 2020 among veterans was 31.7 per 100,000. 

The VA is implementing a 10-year Suicide Prevention Strategy Plan started in 2018 that includes funding local suicide prevention programs. While results are encouraging, the VA stresses that there is still much more to do. The VA has made it easier to reach the VA National Suicide Crisis Hotline by changing the program to align with the regular National Crisis Hotline that all Americans can use. The new VA Crisis Hotline is now 988 and when the crisis line responds, select option 1, and you will be transferred to the veterans’ part of the crisis hotline. A copy of the report is available online.

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