Largest COLA Adjustment Ever?
Largest COLA Adjustment Ever?
The cost of living adjustment for federal retirees is shaping up to be one of the largest in recent memory.
Skyrocketing consumer prices are putting pressure on Americans’ wallets.
Much of the rise has been fueled by gasoline, home, used car, travel and food prices.
2022 CPI-W (COLA) Adjustment
For federal employees, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) determines each annual COLA.
According to a press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI-W increased 6.1% over the last 12 months to reach a level of 266.412.
The current trend is a 5.1% 2022 COLA adjustment.
To put that in perspective, the last 5 years of FERS COLA adjustment have been 1.3%, 1.6%, 2.0%, 2.0% and .3%.
There have also been three, zero-percent, or “no-COLA” adjustments in the last 10 years.
The CPI-W will still fluctuate as prices rise and fall throughout the months of July, August and September, however.
The actual COLA for 2022 will be determined in an announcement made in mid-October.
COLA adjustments apply to CSRS annuities, FERS annuities and also Social Security benefits.
CSRS vs FERS COLA Calculation
There are small differences in the COLA percentage received between CSRS and FERS employees.
FERS employees receive the same CSRS COLA adjustment if the amount is between 0 and 2.0%.
When the CSRS COLA is between 2.0% – 3.0%, the FERS COLA received is 2.0%.
If the FERS COLA is above 3.0% the FERS COLA received is the CSRS COLA minus 1.0%.
To illustrate, here are two examples.
CSRS COLA = 1.5%. FERS COLA would also receive 1.5%.
CSRS COLA = 5.1%. FERS COLA would be 5.1% – 1% = 4.1%.
How COLA Adjustments Affect Employees
For FERS employees, the COLA applies to your basic annuity amount (the monthly pension you receive) — it does not apply to the special retirement supplement.
The COLA adjustment also applies to the survivor annuity.
One caveat, in order to receive the full FERS COLA increase, annuitants need to be over age 62 (there are a few exceptions to this rule).
CSRS employees receive the full COLA increase for all annuities, regardless of age.
It’s important to maintain your purchasing power in retirement. As the costs and goods and services rise, it’s smart to have strategies in place to offset the rise in prices.
If you’d like to learn more, schedule your complimentary federal benefits review and retirement analysis here with a licensed insurance professional.
For additional information, you can also contact your friends at GPIS by calling 866-201-7829 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Sam Wiss, RICP
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