Federal retirees, including those receiving federal disability retirement benefits, or their survivors should be reminded that a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment for 2015 should begin to show up in payments as of January 2.
A cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is a rate increase that reflects the fact that things cost more money due to inflation and other factors.
The 2015 COLA, which is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), will go to those who have received federal retirement benefits for at least one year under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Organization Retirement and Disability System (ORDS) as well as the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and FERS Special.
The Washington Post reports that the increase will amount to about $50 per month for retirees or survivors under the CSRS ($600 for the year) and about $20 per month for FERS retirees or survivors ($240 for the year).
To get the full COLA, a retiree or survivor annuity must have begun no later than December 31, 2013. If not, the increase is prorated to reflect when the annuity began.
FERS disability retirees will receive the increase unless they are receiving a disability annuity based on 60 percent of their high-3 average salary, or the highest average base salary they received over any three-year period, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Also, under FERS, if you have a CSRS component, that component is subject to the COLA calculation for CSRS. FERS survivors receive the FERS increase on their entire annuity – even where component service is involved.
Under either retirement plan, benefits are paid on the first business day of the month after the month in which they accrue. So, benefits that accrued in December 2014 are payable on January 2, 2015.
Active federal employees, including members of the armed services, will receive a 1 percent COLA in 2015.
How Do You Check Your Monthly Annuity Status?
Retirees or survivors may check the status of their monthly annuities at the OPM’s Retirement Services Online.
This is also a good tool for conducting some annuity housekeeping. For instance, you can check to make sure OPM has your correct mailing address, e-mail address and appropriate federal or state tax withholdings. You can also request a duplicate annuity booklet or print verification of your life insurance (FEGLI).
Benefit recipients can also use Retirement Services Online to sign up for direct deposit or a Direct Express debit card, or they can change the account or bank where their payment is sent.
The Services Online tool can also help you if you have lost or forgotten your password. Simply go through the steps to request your password through mail or e-mail.