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VIRGINIA BRIEFS: New Rates for Compensation, Pension Benefits in 2014

1/8/2014, 3 p.m.
Courtesy photo

Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs began receiving a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments Jan. 1.

“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”

For the first time, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Until this year, that was required by law. Veterans and survivors will see additional cents included in their monthly compensation benefit payment.

For Veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130.94 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858.24 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available on the Internet at www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp.

The COLA increase also applies to disability and death pension recipients, survivors receiving dependency and indemnity compensation, disabled Veterans receiving automobile and clothing allowances, and other benefits.

Under federal law, cost-of-living adjustments for VA’s compensation and pension must match those for Social Security benefits. The last adjustment was in January 2013 when the Social Security benefits rate increased 1.7 percent.

In fiscal year 2013, VA provided over $59 billion in compensation benefits to nearly 4 million Veterans and survivors, and over $5 billion in pension benefits to more than 515,000 Veterans and survivors.

For Veterans and separating Servicemembers who plan to file an electronic disability claim, VA urges them to use the joint DoD/VA online portal, eBenefits. Registered eBenefits users with a premium account can file a claim online, track the status, and access a variety of other benefits, including pension, education, health care, home loan eligibility, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

For more information about VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov, or call 1-800-827-1000.

Web Television Series with NOVA Faculty Nominated for International Awards

The web television series “Thurston,” which features the work of producers and actors from Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), is nominated for four 2014 International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) awards.

According to the official “Thurston” website, the show is a “Western drama about the residents of a remote mining town and their struggle for survival in the 1880’s Kansas Ozarks.”

“Thurston” was created by Kathryn O’Sullivan, a NOVA-Manassas communication and theater studies instructor. Former NOVA faculty member Paul Awad is a co-executive producer with O’Sullivan.

NOVA-Loudoun communication and theater studies instructor Lisa Nanni-Messegee and NOVA-Loudoun student Garrett Brennan are actors on the show. Former NOVA faculty member Todd Messegee and three other former NOVA students are also involved with “Thurston.”

The show is nominated for best dramatic series (O’Sullivan and Awad), best directing (Awad), best cinematography (Awad) and best male performance in a drama.

The series has primarily been filmed in Virginia and in Maryland. Filming locations in Virginia include Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre in Bristow, Spotsylvania County Historic Courthouse in Spotsylvania and Virginia City in Wytheville.

The 2014 IAWTV Awards were live-streamed online on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at a ceremony held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

According to the IAWTV, nominees will be voted on by the digital entertainment professionals who comprise the IAWTV membership.

O’Sullivan, Awad and Nanni-Messegee plan on attending the ceremony.

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