PERS has posted the 2016 COLA for all the different retiree cohorts. This COLA will be payable on July 1, 2016 and receivable with the payment posted on August 1, 2016 (PERS always pays in arrears). The actual CPI-U change for 2015 was 1.23%, but because of COLA banks available for all members who retired prior to 2013, those members will receive a 2.0% COLA by drawing 0.77% from existing COLA banks. The full document, explaining the 2016 COLA, can be found at http://www.oregon.gov/PERS/RET/docs/general_info/2016-COLA.pdf. Note that this document contains a second hyperlink to the COLA bank document that breaks down both the current balance, and the balance after the 2016 COLA adjustment is made. Members who retired 2014 or later do not have a COLA bank because the cost of living change from 2013 to 2014 and from 2014 to 2015 was less than 2%. Therefore, the COLA adjustments for members retiring in that time period are less than 2%. You should save this document in your own library as it contains the figures you’ll need in the future if PERS does not publish the full bank figures in the future.
If we could figure out a way to get the Bureau of Labor Statistics to better reflect the changing costs of health care, which weigh more heavily on retirees than actives, the actual CPI changes would be “truer” to experiences we are all having. It is always helpful when the price of gas, heating oil, and other products heavily dependent on petroleum products go down in price, but when those decreases are more than offset by the expanding out-of-pocket expenses for medical care, it is never a neutral result. While I believe that the overall cost of living may have only increased by 1.23% during 2015, I have a hard time reconciling that with the increased costs of healthcare, increased automobile insurance costs, and increased costs of visits to the grocery store. Somehow I’ve always wanted to strive and prosper, but I never anticipated the corrosive and erosive effects of what appears to be nominal inflation. Nominal enough that no ones wages are increasing by a significant amount, but big enough that wage increases are necessary.
Trust me, I’m not complaining. I’m very happy to have a well-funded pension, and am glad that I made the choices I did. But still…….