Congress introduces bills to increase veteran benefits, refund home loan fees, help women veterans

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While the House was busy passing its defense spending bill last week, other members of Congress were introducing other legislation aimed at helping veterans. 

Cost of living adjustment

Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, introduced a bill, the "Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act" to increase veteran disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The bill, co-sponsored by all the members of the SVAC, increases the rate of VA disability compensation, dependent compensation for Gold Star families and the clothing allowance for veterans. 

The cost-of-living adjustment for veterans matches the increases to Social Security recipients and is decided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index annually. The increase goes into effect Dec. 1, 2019, if the legislation passes the Senate and House and gains a presidential signature. 

“My top priority is to ensure that veterans and their families receive the benefits they earned while serving our country,” Isakson said. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to increase benefits for disabled veterans in keeping with rising costs of living.”

Home loan fee refunds

Tester and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., introduced a bill to ensure VA repays the thousands of disabled veterans for home loan fees wrongfully charged. 

An Inspector General report revealed that the VA wrongly charged nearly 73,000 disabled veterans $286.4 million in home loan fees and the VA has known it owes those veterans the money since at least 2014. 

The bill would require VA to:

  • Report to Congress with a plan to ID all of the veterans wrongfully charged a fee,