Dividend checks continue to get fatter in corporate America, as more companies jack up their distribution rates.

Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher these past few days.

We can start with Ebix (NASDAQ:EBIX)The provider of enterprise software solutions for the insurance industry is giving its quarterly rate a 50% boost to $0.075 a share. Ebix's shares have been trading in the teens since stumbling in November. This is a way to reward patient shareholders.

Whiting USA Trust (NYSE: WHX) is also making its already fat yield even chunkier. The trust's first quarterly distribution of 2013 will be $0.577618 per unit, comfortably ahead of the $0.512336 per unit it shelled out three months ago. Whiting USA Trust units soared 14% last week, with most of those gains coming on Friday after the announcement.

3M (NYSE:MMM) is also "sticking" around for income investors. 3M's move to push its quarterly disbursements 8% higher to $0.635 a share also moves its impressive streak of annual hikes to 55 consecutive years. 3M also announced a $7.5 billion share buyback, giving the conglomerate another way to return money to its stakeholders.

Finally, we have Lear (NYSE:LEA) taking off. The supplier of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems is lifting its quarterly rate 21% to $0.17 a share. Lear is also accelerating the pace of its previously announced $1 billion share buyback. It's now committing to going through $600 million of that this year alone.

Checks and balances
Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results. A 30-day trial subscription will let you see if it's right for you.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.