Through eight months of the measuring period toward the January 2022 federal retirement COLA, the count stands at 4 percent, following an increase of 0.9 percentage points in May in the inflation index used to determine the COLA.
Barring a substantial change in direction in the consumer price index between now and when the count is completed in October through the September figures, the count appears to be on track to produce the largest adjustment since 2009. In that year CSRS retirees received 5.8 percent and FERS retirees eligible for COLAs received 4.8 percent (due to the 1 percentage point reduction affecting FERS when the number is above 3 percent).
Cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) are effective on December 1 of each year and are applied to the annuity payments made the following month. COLAs for those retired less than one year are prorated according to the date on which they retired. If you retire in January, your first adjustment will be made in January of the following year and will be for 11/12ths of the COLA amount. If you retire in February it will be 10/12ths, and so forth. Future COLAs will be for the full amount.
COLA Based on Consumer Price Index
The COLA is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI/W) average of the third calendar quarter of one year to the next. If the inflation count finishes negative, benefits are frozen but not reduced. Also, in that situation the starting point for the next COLA count remains the same.
Read more on COLAs – Federal Cost of Living Adjustments at ask.FEDweek.com