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Murphy signs bill to raise veteran benefit payments

New law ends 40-year drought of increases

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, shown earlier this year during a briefing in Trenton, signed into law Thursday a bill that that increases state payments to qualified veterans.

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TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed into law a bill that increases state payments to qualified veterans.

For certain veterans diagnosed with disabilities from their wartime service, annual payments will increase to $1,800 from $750, Murphy’s office said. Payments for certain disabilities covered under the Paraplegic and Hemiplegic Veterans’ Allowance program had not increased since 1981, and payments to blind veterans covered under the Blind Veterans’ Allowance Program had not increased since 1971.

“A lot has changed over the past several decades, and it is important for our state to keep up with the rising cost of living in our support for New Jersey veterans,” Murphy said in a statement. “Veterans who were disabled in the line of duty made an immeasurable sacrifice on behalf of our nation. Ensuring these veterans receive the financial assistance they need and deserve from our state is how we can honor that sacrifice.”

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, cosponsored the bill with a mix of other senators.

“I am proud this legislation was signed into law today,” Testa said in a statement. “It is our duty to ensure the well-being of New Jersey’s veterans and their spouses.”

Testa said the bill is essential to caring for veterans who have accumulated challenging health conditions from their service while the cost of living has risen since the last increases were made.

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“This bill will offer some much-needed financial relief and stability to these injured veterans, and their loved ones, during their time of need,” he said.

Qualified veterans will see a bump in their compensation beginning Jan. 1, Murphy’s office said.

Murphy included the increase in this year’s budget proposal. The budget including the raise was signed into law in June.

The law will aid about 200 state veterans who obtained benefits and have lost eyesight, amputated limbs, osteochondritis, multiple sclerosis and permanent paralysis in their limbs or certain portions of the body, Murphy’s office said.

The bill’s Assembly version was introduced in the winter, first being given to the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in January, according to the New Jersey Legislature’s website.

After being shuffled through the Legislature, the bill passed both houses in June.

State Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Mercer, Middlesex, called the change long overdue, saying not accommodating rising costs of living for veterans has been unacceptable.

“While the increase of compensation in this bill cannot fully repay the sacrifice our disabled veterans gave, it can hopefully provide some aid as they live out the rest of their lives,” Greenstein said in a statement.

Contact Eric Conklin:

609-272-7261

econklin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressConklin

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