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No 2016 Federal Retiree COLA: CSRS and FERS

October 15, 2015

Under current law, there will be no 2016 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients and annuitants in both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

The Social Security Act provides for an automatic COLA increase if there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was determined to the third quarter of the current year.  Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed that the September 2015 CPI-W was (232.661). Combined with the CPI-W for July (233.806) and August (233.366), the 2015 third-quarter average is 233.278, or 0.41 percent lower than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2014, which was 234.242.  

The BLS reported that declines in energy costs outweighed increases in costs of food and shelter.  "In contrast to the energy declines, the indexes for food and for all items  less food and energy both accelerated in September. The food index rose 0.4  percent, its largest increase since May 2014. The index for all items less  food and energy rose 0.2 percent in September. The indexes for shelter,  medical care, household furnishings and operations, and personal care all  increased; the indexes for apparel, used cars and trucks, new vehicles, and  airline fares were among those that declined," a BLS news release said today.  For more information on how the BLS calculates CPI-W, go here.

In the years 2010 and 2011, there was also no federal retiree COLA. These two no COLA years were followed by a 3.6 percent COLA in 2012, 1.7 percent COLA in 2013, a 1.5 percent COLA in 2014, and 1.7 percent COLA in 2015. Social Security trustees project a 3.1 percent 2017 COLA

For more information, see also: Guide to Federal Retiree COLAs: What Are They and How Are They Calculated?