U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, supported a bill to give a 1.5 percent increase in veterans benefits. The cost-of-living increase matches the projected 2014 increase in Social Security payments.
The Senate passed the bill last month, and the House approved it today by unanimous consent. It now goes to the White House for the President to sign it into law.
"We can honor our veterans year-round, not just on Veterans Day, by making sure they receive the benefits they have earned," Larsen said. "Many veterans in Northwest Washington depend on their monthly benefit checks to make ends meet. This cost-of-living increase will help vets keep up with rising costs for food and housing."
Larsen has put forward several initiatives to help veterans.
Earlier this year, Larsen successfully attached language to a VA funding bill that directs the VA to update the Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities according to up-to-date, medically accurate standards. The change was driven by a Clinton, Washington, resident who wrote to Larsen asking for assistance when the disability rating she received for her fibromyalgia was not consistent with standard medical assessments.
Working with Sen. Patty Murray, Larsen introduced a bill last year to improve health care for female veterans and provide advanced fertilization treatment for veterans with service-connected disabilities who are trying to start families. The VA enacted a portion of that bill earlier this year, and Larsen has secured 51 additional cosponsors for the measure in the House.
Larsen also introduced the bipartisan Veterans Education Transparency (VET) Act, which would allow colleges to access information about veterans’ educational benefits so they can provide better counseling to veterans.
Larsen’s staff in Everett and Bellingham work one-on-one to assist veterans with their benefits claims, having completed more than 60 cases in the last year. His office also established a veterans skills-to-jobs initiative that works with veterans, local colleges and employers to translate veterans’ military experience to skills demanded by the private sector.