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Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

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What is Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)?

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is a permanent annual increase to your retirement benefit that is based on the cost-of-living index. Included in your monthly benefit (when you become eligible), it’s designed to address inflation as it occurs.

How COLA is Determined

COLA payments, subject to pension caps and limitations, equal 50 percent of the previous year’s annual rate of inflation, but never less than 1 percent or more than 3 percent of your benefit. The adjustment percentage is applied up to the first $18,000 of your Single Life Allowance (or the actual amount of your benefit, if less), even if you selected a different option at retirement. Once COLA payments begin, they continue automatically and you will receive an increase to your monthly benefit each September.

This Year’s COLA Increase

The September 2015 COLA equals 1.0 percent, for a maximum annual increase of $180.00, or $15.00 per month before taxes.

Eligibility

To begin receiving COLA payments, you must be:

  • Age 62 or older and retired for five or more years; or
  • Age 55 or older and retired for ten or more years (uniformed employees such as police officers, firefighters and correction officers covered by a special plan that allows for retirement, regardless of age, after a specific number of years); or
  • A disability retiree for five years; or
  • The spouse of a deceased retiree receiving a lifetime benefit under an option elected by the retiree at retirement. An eligible spouse is entitled to one-half the COLA amount that would have been paid to the retiree when the retiree would have met the eligibility criteria; or
  • A beneficiary receiving the accidental death benefit for five or more years on behalf of a deceased Retirement System member.

Receiving COLA

You will receive your first COLA increase in the month following the month you become eligible. This payment includes the prorated portion due for the month in which you became eligible plus the COLA for the month you receive the payment.

Once you are eligible, you will receive an annual COLA increase each September. We will send you a letter informing you of the amount prior to your September 30th benefit payment, when the increase goes into effect.

(Rev. 6/15)