The FERS amount is lower because the final number for the counting period toward that COLA, announced Thursday, fell between 2 and 3 percent. FERS retirees further are generally ineligible for COLAs until age 62—with exceptions for survivor beneficiaries, disability beneficiaries, and retired law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers.
Under both systems, relatively recent retirees will receive smaller increases. To get the full amount in January, someone who retired under CSRS would need to have retired no later than December 3, 2017. Someone who retired under FERS, and who is otherwise eligible for a COLA would need to have retired no later than November 31, 2017.
The full 2.8 percent amount applies to other inflation-adjusted programs including Social Security and military retirement.
The COLA increase almost certainly will outstrip the pay raise for active employees; the two differ year to year, sometimes significantly. The House went out of session through the elections—the Senate is set to recess after next week—without finalizing an appropriations bill that will be the vehicle for that decision.
The choice is essentially between the 1.9 percent advocated by the Senate and a freeze, which the House originally backed but more recently has softened on. Most likely the final word on the raise won’t come until late November or in December.
More on COLAs – Federal Cost of Living Adjustments at ask.FEDweek.com