(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel released legislation on Thursday sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Cleopatra Tucker, and Annette Quijano to provide an increase and annual adjustment in allowance paid to veterans with certain wartime service-connected disabilities.
“Any state allowance, especially one that supports veterans and their families, not subject to an annual adjustment for cost of living should be no longer acceptable,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “New Jersey’s veterans have earned our support for their sacrifice. We must do all that we can to help them provide for themselves and their families in the current economy.”
Currently, the state pays an annual allowance in soldiers and veterans with certain disabilities. A blind veteran, under current law, receives $750 annually under the Blind Veterans’ Allowance Program; this amount has not been changed since 1971. A veteran with certain other described disabilities also receives $750 annually under the Paraplegic and Hemiplegic Veterans’ Allowance Program; this amount has not been changed since 1981. This bill increases these annual payments to $1,500.
“Costs of living never stays exactly the same from year to year, so neither should the amount veterans have earned in allowance for their sacrifice and service,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “This legislation ensures that the allowance veterans receive is aligned with the current cost of living not one from twenty years ago.”
“The world and the price of living in it have changed considerably since 1971 and 1981,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This increase is way overdue and well-deserved for disabled veterans who have given so much in their lifetimes to ensure our protection here and overseas. It’s time to update our laws to better provide for our disabled veterans today.”
The legislation also provides for an annual adjustment in this allowance in direct proportion to the percent change in the Consumer Price Index over each 12-month period beginning November 1 and ending October 31. Under the bill, the adjustment is to be made only if the percent change in the Consumer Price Index results in an increase in the allowance; the allowance will not be reduced if the index experiences a decline.
The sponsors note in the bill that the purpose of the adjustment is to provide a mechanism for ensuring that, for the benefit of these disabled soldiers and veterans, the amount of this allowance keeps pace with cost-of-living increases.
The bill was released by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.