Veterans receiving disability benefits would see a small bump in their payments this December if legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, becomes law.

Also this month, Tester sponsored a bill to better protect service members from retribution when reporting military sexual assault, fraud, waste and other abuses.

Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined eight Senate Republicans and several Democrats on Monday to introduce legislation to increase disability benefits paid to veterans.

“Veterans and their families deserve this increase to keep up with the rising cost of living,” Tester said. “This bill has strong bipartisan support.”

Under the proposed bill, disability benefits would increase based upon the rising cost of living, similar to an increase provided to recipients of Social Security. The amount is determined each fall by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

Tester sponsored legislation last year that raised veterans’ disability compensation by 1.7 percent for 2015. If approved by Congress, the latest increase would take effect on Dec. 1.

“In 2014, over 20,000 Montana veterans received disability compensation and over 4,000 VA disability claims were processed,” Tester said. “We must live up to the promise made to the folks who served our nation.”

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Last week, Tester also sponsored a bill to strengthen whistleblower protections and enhance safeguards for sexual assault survivors in the military.

The proposed Legal Justice for Service Members Act would update the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, helping protect those in uniform from retaliation after reporting instances of waste, fraud or abuse.

The bill also includes language to protect military sexual assault survivors against retaliation for reporting instances of sexual assault.

“This bill takes important steps to ensure service members are able to speak out against incidents of sexual assault, waste, fraud or other illegal activities without it unfairly tarnishing their military record or putting their job at risk,” Tester said.

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