2014 cost of living adjustment to be 1.5 percent

Thomas Crisp Contributing Columnist

November 22, 2013

It’s official. The 2014 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for military retired pay, SBP annuities, Social Security checks, and VA disability and survivor benefits will be 1.5 percent, effective Dec. 1, 2013. It will first appear in the January checks, which will be paid on Dec. 31.

For the month, the CPI increased to 230.537. The COLA baseline for next year is 230.327. The 1.5 percent 2014 COLA will be the fourth-lowest COLA since the turn of the century – trailing only the zero-COLA years of 2009-10 and the 1.4 percent of 2002. But there are two categories of military retirees who won’t receive a 1.5 percent COLA. [Source: MOAA Leg Up 1 No 2013]

Vet food stamps

About 900,000 veterans and 5,000 active duty troops received cuts in their food stamp benefits Oct. 31 as $5 billion was automatically trimmed from the SNAP program for low-income families.

“The reduced benefit cut will reduce SNAP benefits, which are already modest, for all households by 7 percent on average, or about $10 per person per month,” according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Nationwide, in any given month, a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011,” according to an analysis of census data, the Center’s report said.

The SNAP program received a boost under the 2009 Recovery Act, or stimulus bill aimed at lifting the nation out of recession, but that temporary increase expired Thursday as Congress continues to debate a new farm bill which would separate farm subsidies from food stamp benefits.

In addition to the 900,000 veterans, the cut in SNAP benefits will impact about 5,000 military families that currently receive food stamps, mostly from the junior enlisted ranks, according to the Defense Department.

An agriculture department report last year showed that more than 5,000 of the total of 48 million Americans receiving SNAP benefits listed their employment status as “active duty military,” Pentagon officials said.

The SNAP program currently costs about $80 billion per year and provides food aid to 14 percent of all U.S. households, or about 48 million people. Thousands of veterans from every state are affected by the food stamp cuts, ranging from the 109,500 in Florida and 105,700 in Texas in the SNAP program, to the 2,200 in North Dakota, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Of the active duty troops, “military members who receive SNAP tend to be made up of members in junior pay grades with larger than average household sizes,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman, said in August in commenting on the potential for benefit cuts [Source: | Richard Sisk | 29 Oct 2013]