The inflation index used to set the January 2020 federal retirement COLA rose by 0.1 percent in January but through four months of the counting period toward that adjustment, the count remains negative at -0.5 percent. If the count were to finish negative, benefits would be frozen but not reduced.

There is no formal link between COLAs and pay raises.

COLAs on the FERS basic retirement benefit are 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 CPI/W increases by at least 3 percent in a given year, the COLA increase will be the CPI/W minus 1 percent.

Read more on COLAs – Federal Cost of Living Adjustments at ask.FEDweek.com