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Senator, veterans groups line up against chained CPI

Representatives of veterans' organizations joined the incoming chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Dec. 19 to urge Congress and the White House not to adopt a proposed measure that would change in the way cost-of-living allowances are calculated—and produce gradual reductions in veterans disability benefits.

Representatives of veterans' organizations joined the incoming chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Dec. 19 to urge Congress and the White House not to adopt a proposed measure that would change in the way cost-of-living allowances are calculated—and produce gradual reductions in veterans disability benefits.

The proposed change has become a bargaining chip in the ongoing "fiscal-cliff" negotiations between the House leadership and the White House.

"We must do deficit reduction, but not by cutting programs for people who lost arms, legs and eyes defending our country," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "We must not balance the budget on the backs of men and women who already sacrificed for us in Iraq and Afghanistan."

According to Sanders, Congressional Budget Office figures show that switching from the use of the consumer product Index (CPI)—the measure currently used in calculating annual COLAs—to a "chained" CPI would mean that vets who start receiving Department of Veterans Affairs disability benefits at age 30 would see their benefits reduced by $1,425 by age 45, $2,341 by age 55 and $3,231 by age 65, compared to amounts they would see under the current formula.

Letters from veterans organizations, including the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, were posted on Sanders's website, as well as a letter to lawmakers signed by 18 veterans groups and veterans service organizations

Groups signing that letter included the Air Force Sergeants Association, Air Force Women Officers Associated, American Military Retirees Association , American Military Society, Association of the United States Navy, Blinded Veterans Association, Gold Star Wives, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, National Association for Uniformed Services, National Guard Association of the United States, National Military Family Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans for Common Sense, Veterans of Foreign Wars, VetsFirst, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

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