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2011 COLA for military is zero again

The Federal Government announced that the 2011 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for military retirees, disabled veterans and Social Security recipients will be zero for the second year in a row.

Each year Military Retirement pay, VA Compensation and Pensions and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation. This annual Cost of Living Adjustment is determined by the Consumer Price Index for the previous year. In a normal cycle the CPI for a given year is compared to the previous year to determine the actual rate of inflation. However, since 2008 was the last year the rate of inflation was positive, it is the baseline for determining the 2010 rate of inflation.

For example, the 2011 COLA will be based on the 2010 rate of inflation. The 2010 rate of inflation was -0.1 percent when compared to 2008, therefore there will be no COLA for Fiscal Year 2011.

Retiree Cost of Living Adjustment differs from the Active Duty Cost of Living Allowance which is paid based on the cost of living in a given high-cost locality. This number will be released in late December.

Perhaps the most common change to retiree pay accounts are the Cost-of-Living (COLA) increases. Currently, federal law authorizes periodic increases to reflect rises in the Consumer Price Index. COLA increases impact your monthly gross pay, federal withholding tax, SBP premiums and annuities. While DFAS does not establish COLA increases, the agency does apply any authorized increases to your pay, SBP premiums and other account information.

COLA is applied depending on your date of entry into the armed forces and your date of retirement. If you entered service on or after Sept. 8, 1980, and became eligible for retired pay on or after Jan. 1, 1996, any authorized COLA will be decreased during your first calendar year of retirement. Full COLA increases will be applied for all subsequent years. Retirees who entered military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986, will have any authorized COLA increases reduced by 1 percent.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.