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CCK LIVE UNDER 5:00 : 2021 Pay Rates & COLA

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Christian McTarnaghan: Hi everyone. My name is Christian McTarnaghan. I am an attorney at Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick. And today we are going to be discussing COLA and disability pay rates for 2021. All right, so you might be asking, what is Cola? So that is an acronym for the cost of living adjustment. The yearly change in the cost of living as determined by the Social Security Administration or commonly referred to as the SSA.

Christian: In 2021 Americans who rely on Social Security benefits, VA disability benefits, military retirement pay, and other government benefits will see a 1.3 percent increase in their monthly compensation. How does the government determine what the cost of living adjustment would be? The Social Security bases the COLA rates on the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earnings and clerical workers, otherwise known as the CPI-W. It determines that from the third quarter. So from July, August, and September of the previous fiscal year and they compare it to the third quarter of the current fiscal year. And so that is where we see the one point three percent increase. It is going to go into effect on December 1st of 2020.

Christian: How are these pay rates determined? We are going to go through what the pay rates are based on the percentage of disability in detail, every single one, a little bit later in this talk. But the pay rate is determined by your combined disability rating. So VA uses the COLA rate to adjust these monthly disability compensation amounts each year. Just a reminder, you are not going to receive separate compensation for each of your service-connected disabilities. You have a thirty for your right knee, a thirty for your left knee, you are not going to get two thirties. You get one monthly payment based on all of your disabilities combined into one disability rating. So it is important to note that you can get additional monthly compensation if you’re a veteran, if you have qualifying dependents, if you have a combined disability rating of at least thirty percent. Qualifying dependents include minor children under the age of eighteen, children between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three who are still in school, your spouse, and dependent parents if you have them.

Christian: What are these disability rates for 2021 that we are talking about? So as you can see from the chart on the screen the increase in compensation is going to vary depending on your rating and your number of qualifying dependents. Since it is a percentage, each of the levels of compensation is going to change by a different amount. In 2021 if you have a ten percent rating, you are going to get a hundred and forty-four dollars and fourteen cents a month. That is an increase of a dollar and eighty-five cents. Just to show you sort of an example of how the COLA affects the rate. So a twenty percent rating, you are going to get two hundred and eighty-four dollars and ninety-three cents a month. If your combined rating is thirty percent, you are going to get four hundred and forty-one and thirty-five cents a month. For the forty percent rating, you are going to get six hundred and thirty-five dollars and seventy-seven cents. Fifty percent rating is nine hundred and five dollars and four cents. The sixty percent rating is one thousand one hundred and forty-six dollars and thirty-nine cents. So that is going to be a change of about fourteen dollars from the previous year’s rate. The seventy percent rating is one thousand four hundred and forty-four dollars and seventy-one cents. The eighty percent rating is sixteen hundred seventy-nine dollars and thirty-five cents. The ninety percent rating is eighteen hundred and eighty-seven dollars and eighteen cents. And then finally the one hundred percent rating is going to be in three thousand one hundred and forty-six dollars and forty-two cents in 2021.

Christian: We have a lot more information on this topic. And if you want to learn more, please visit our blog it is We are going to have a link to the rates in the comments section. And please do not forget to follow us on social media to stay in the know on the latest veterans topics.