Reg Jones Expert's View

We’re all familiar with the term "counting your pennies." Well, the up-coming cost-of-living adjustment for retirees, survivors and Social Security beneficiaries will give you a chance to do that. It’s 1.7 percent. As the old saying goes, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But how much better?


If your annuity is $50,000 and you’ve been on the annuity roll for at least a full year (beginning no later than December 2011), your annuity would be increased by $850. If you were only on the annuity roll for six months, it would be increased by $425. Roughly speaking, for every month you were on the annuity roll, your annuity would be increased by $70.33.

All you have to do to find out how much your own annuity will be increased is to use the following formula: .017 x your current annuity. If you will be on the annuity roll for less than 12 months, divide the dollar figure by 12 and multiply the result by the number of months you’ll be on the annuity roll before December 1, 2012.

By the way, not every retiree will be eligible for the 2013 COLA. Those who will be are:

* CSRS retirees

* survivor annuitants

* disability retirees

* all special category retirees, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers

* Social Security beneficiaries

On the other hand, most FERS retirees will only be eligible for a COLA when they reach age 62.

In closing, I want to point out that this is only the third time since 1999 that CSRS and eligible FERS retirees and survivors have received the same COLA. In every case is was because the COLA was less than 2 percent. By law, if the COLA is less than 2 percent, everyone who is eligible gets the same amount. If it’s between 2 and 3 percent, FERS eligibles get 2 percent. If it increases by 3 or more percent, FERS eligibles get 1 percent less than that number.