Your 2013 COLA: 1.7%

Social Security today announced their benefit changes for 2013.  The cost-of-living adjustment that Social Security recipients will receive, beginning in their January payments, will be 1.7%.

It is expected that OPM will soon announce 1.7% COLAs for all CSRS retirees and for FERS retirees eligible for the COLA.  FERS retirees (other than special category employees) do not begin earning a COLA until age 62.

Here are additional Social Security changes that were announced today.

2013 2012
Amount of income out of which SS payroll taxes are taken $113,700 $110,100
Amount needed to earn a quarter of coverage (credit) $1,160 $1,130
Earnings test from age 62 until the year full retirement age is reached $15,120 $14,640
Earnings test in year full retirement age is reached $40,080 $38,880
Substantial gainful activity for disability recipient $1,040 $1,010

John Grobe’s latest book, The Answer Book on Your Federal Employee Benefits, has just been released by LRP Publications. The book is written in an easy to understand question and answer format and covers all areas of federal benefits from the perspective of an employee at various stages of their career. Order your copy at

© 2016 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.

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  1. Common Sense says:

    Talking to my cousin’s husband today. She is a county worker. He was complaining about how pitiful her cost of living pay adjustment will be this year. So I asked him what it was and he goes — those cheap bums. It’s only 3%.

    Anyone who works for the feds is so very foolish. The state and local pay adjustments are so much better. My father-in-law lives in Illinois. He spent his career as a junior high teacher and he has been getting a 3% annual adjustment for the past 25 years since he retired.

  2. ibetired says:

    Federal workers will get a 1% raise if Congress and Senate approve it and the President signs it. Oh by the way why wouldn’t they approve it when some of their re election is on the line LOL I know one thing I’m voting for candidate who has never held that office

  3. Hostess1953 says:

    A COLA is only for retirees; working personnel get a raise (or continue not getting a raise).  BIG difference and one that a lot of people don’t understand.

  4. unhappy working slob says:

    “MY COLA?”  I don’t think so.  I am not retired, but still working, and yet, although everything is costing more (or serving sizes are shrinking), I am NOT getting any 1.7% COLA this year.  It will probably be the third year in a row.

    • Hostess1953 says:

      A COLA is only for retirees.  If you’re still working, it’s a raise (or not getting a raise).

      • Sandra Moore-1 says:

        …then make sure you vote for someone that ensure that you do get a raise.

      • CNCS Union says:

        In our agency, there are salary adjustment (raise), cash bonuses (one-time award) and the COLA.  Everyone gets the COLA (when it’s authorized AND approved by our CEO) but only high performers get the first two.  Of course, the first two are dependent on adequate funding which hasn’t been the case for most of the agency’s existence.  Hence the problem with federal “pay for performance” systems.

  5. HappilyRetiredFed says:

     This is SSA recipients. Nice for them. The federal employees and retirees are still receiving zip until a budget is reached. And at that time we will get a whopping half of one percent. Wow!

  6. Retired CSRS.. says:

    Did anybody notice that FECA increase is 1% higher than SS and CSRS?  Does that mean that OWCP folks require a larger percentage to survive?  Most of them are paid 75% and pay no taxes anyway.  Just sayin’

    • RetiredIRS says:

      The FECA COLA Increase is computed using a different time period. They may get a little more or a little less in a given year than the Social Security or CSRS Annuitants. It tends to even out at the end.

      • Retired CSRS.. says:

        and it shouldn’t be a different time period or different formula..  so far they have at least a 1% advantage for the last couple of years..

  7. Ed says:

    Why does max SS earnings cap go up 3.2% while cola jump is only 1.7%?  Am I missing something?

  8. VA ISO (Retired) says:

    Effectively eaten up by increases in health insurance costs.

    • Ed says:

       Still confused.  When we had no COLAs (2009, 2010) SS payroll max also stayed put.  Why the discrepancy now?  Put another way, what’s different this time around?

    • JG4 says:

      Please explain as 1.7% is a great deal more money than the 3.8% average increase in health care costs across FEHB, not unless your healthcare costs are more than 1/2 of your income…. my insurance isn’t going up at all… maybe you need to change plans

    • Program Analyst says:

      Be happy there is something there to be eatten up vs. insurance eating into your pay.  For 3 years in a row it will be no COLA for federal workers while health insurance costs have gone up.  We effectively are making less as we are not compensated for the increase.

      • OldRet says:

        Federal employees NEVER get a COLA!

      • Ross200 says:

        As a retiree, I am fortunate. The treatment of current Federal Employees is unfair as regards to the continuing pay freeze.  Moreover, if as expected, the temporary Social Security Tax Cut is not extended, most Federal Employees will be seeing a de facto  pay cut in January 2013.  

      • OldRet says:

        ..but you’ve had a 2% FICA tax break over the last two years. This year will be bad when there is no tax break and no pay increase!

      • wombat1951 says:

        Fed employees NEVER get a COLA.    What they get is an annual pay increase voted on by Congress each year, which is supposed to be based on “comparability” formulae.

        Just like nobody has EVER “paid in” to Social Security.   You paid a TAX.

      • Hostess1953 says:

        Working federal employees don’t get a COLA; it’s called a raise.  Only retirees get COLAs.

    • Dennis20d says:

      My annuity is going up by over $100 a month and my health insurance premiums are going up by $5 a month.  I am fortunate that my “high three” was based on a GS-14 Salary.  I am far and away better off. I suggest to anyone seeing large increases in health premium, shop around and find a better deal. 

    • Ptassara1953 says:

      And the 3% increase in your federal taxes when they don’t extend the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012.