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I Didn't Get the Full Military Retiree COLA. What's Up? Thumbnail

I Didn't Get the Full Military Retiree COLA. What's Up?

Retirement Funding Military Pay and Benefits

You retired in 2019 and heard that the COLA was 1.6% for the year. But your military retirement pay didn't go up one stinkin cent. What's up with that? Let me see if I can explain.

Military Retired Pay COLA Depends on Retirement Plan and Month of Retirement

The amount of COLA you receive in the year you retire will depend if you're covered by the old retirement system (Final Pay) or the kind of old retirement system (High-3) and Blended Retirement System (BRS...though probably not too many of you have retired as of this writing). It also depends on the month you retire, if you're covered by the High-3 or BRS.

Final Pay Retirement Recipients Receive Full COLA

For those who retired in 2019 that are covered by the Final Pay retirement system (admittedly a small number) they received full COLA regardless of the month that they retired.

High-3 and BRS COLA is Adjusted

If you first became a member of a Uniformed Service on or after 8 Sep 80, your retirement COLA is adjusted based on the date of your retirement.

For 2019 the breakout was as follows:

  • Retirement date from 1 Jan 19 - 30 Jun 19 gets the full COLA of 1.6% (Some years, only those who retire in the first quarter get the full COLA)
  • Retirement date from 1 Jul 19 - 30 Sep 19 the COLA is 0.2%
  • Retirement date from 1 Oct 19 - 31 Dec 19 the COLA is 0%

Military Financial Planning is Different

There are a lot of unique benefits and tax rules that apply to active and retired military members. We think you should work with someone who lives and breathes military finances every day. If you'd like to do so, give us a call.

If you found this article useful, you might like the following blog posts:

Military Tax Break: Sale of Primary Residence

Military Retirement, VA Disability and Your Taxes

Retired Military Finances 101: Taxes

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