3.6% COLA for Retirees in 2012

The final inflation figures for the 2011 fiscal year have been released, and the news is good for retirees who are hoping for a Cost of Living Adjustment in January 2012.  The 2012 COLA for military retirees will be 3.6% – a significant increase and most welcome after two years without a COLA.  The 3.6% adjustment will become effective 1 December 2011, and will be reflected in January 2012 retired pay, Survivor Benefit Plan, Veterans Administration, and Social Security payments.

There are two groups of military retirees who will not see the full 3.6% COLA applied to their current payments.  First are retired servicemembers who entered service on or after Aug. 1, 1986 and chose the REDUX retirement plan.  The REDUX plan gave a $30,000 Career Status Bonus at 15 years of service.  In return for the bonus, those servicemembers agreed to accept reduced retired pay and also a reduced COLA.  REDUX retirees’ COLAs are calculated at 1% below the normal COLA rate, so they’ll see a 2.6% COLA.

The second group who will not see the full 3.6% COLA are those servicemembers who retired in 2011.  They will receive a smaller COLA for just this one year, as they already benefited from the active duty pay in January 2011.  All future COLAs will be the same as everyone else.

I know that there are many people who are going to be very, very happy about this.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Richard Mathias

    what about disabled veterans ?

    • Dor eld

      Thanks USA we have Va % and retirement pay we adopted 2 special need Grandchildren we were behind in mortgage and payed check This month reduced $600 We were just hanging on. We wont be evicted until after Christmas. That is what we get for serving 27 years. No Christmas for kids thanks White House Grinch.Where do we go to live? We were almost caught up on mortgage and now what? Does the white house have room. They do not care about 2 children or anyone else. Merry Christmas what do we tell 2 kids? Tell us what veterans Do

      • Rufina Brazil

        I feel your pain. My hubby is also retired and has had 2 major surgeries. One on his intestines, so he has been cut to the front, and his 3rd on his spine, and he has applied for Unemployability thru the VA since July 2011, and to date no response. It’s a shame how VA treat the veterans and not being aware of how it affects the spopuse and children.
        I meant my husband and my relationship has diminished so that I’m truly contemplating leaving. I feel beaten up. I’m tired of the run-a-round rederic from the VA. Should my marriage fall apart I am truly contemplating suing the Dept. Of Veterans Affairs, am sick of it!!!

        • Cyberpigue

          That’s what my ex-wife did – left me when I needed her most. The VA settled 3 days after my divorce and awarded me $52k in back pay. For better or worse? Oh, by the way, the court made her take care of me financially, too. They didn’t much like her leaving her disabled husband because things got a little tough.

          • Ed

            Similar story here. A long battle and stress on stress financially. My wife said she couldn’t take anymore and would move out. Five!! Days later my rating and in employability came thru with a $41000 chech to boot. Luckily we worked it out. Six months later a five year battle with Social Security was won, representing myself. Eighty three thousand in bak pay came not a moment too late. All my family paid back and us a nest egg. So, you spouse who said I DO!!, Do!!!! That’s life.
            Those of who are broken must realize that their is no perfect marriage. Five days and I would have continued to claimed the perfect marriage never knowing my wife’s true limitations. Lady in prior post, Appreciate who you have and when life gets heavy, keep on keepin on, because you promised. Be true.
            Life ain’t about You! Selfless is sweet, Selfish is lonely.

      • kat

        Sorry Dor eld: I am a DD social worker and your monitary problems are primarily due to 1) your obvious dependency on Fox news for information and 2) sorry case management from whatever county in which you live. Children adopted with DD are entitled to SSI. Have you investigated at the county level their eligibility on their own for Medicaid services? If you are willing to bash the President and take the VA dollar, which you can certainly rationalize any way you want, it is still a government entitlement just like Social Security. Then certainly you can take these children to obtain the resources that they need to become as independent as possible. I am a disabled vet (80%) myself, female, still working, and I truly understand “the system” that people complain about. Do a little research why don’t you.

        • kathy

          Social Security is not an entitlement we pay into it and expect it to be there when we need it

    • Kevin

      what about those who entered service 1974 BUT retired in 2011?

      • KateKashman

        Kevin, service members who retired in 2011 will receive a prorated COLA from the date of their retirement for the 2012 adjustment. You will receive the full COLA in the future.

  • Michael

    Hi Rich,

    Do you receive VA disability compensation as well as military retired pay? If so, then the 3.6% cost of living adjustment will be applied to both.


    • Scott

      I was told that i can only recieve the higher of the 2! VA 100% so i take that and use tricare for family medical But dont get a penny Retired pay!

  • mar wright

    what about CSRS and FERS retired federal employes?

    • DaveSFCRET

      No not for five years

  • Lynn3765

    Except TRICARE fees are going up 13%. What happened to capping TRICARE increases to the COLA?



  • ron

    yes! ron

  • coloneldan

    VA comp COLA has not passed or sent to Pres to sign as of Nov 1, 2012,
    REPUB HOUSE IS HOLDING trying to get more in budget cuts.. I expect it to pass by Vets Day…

  • Dave

    I retire next month. So from what I’m reading this cola increase will have no affect my checks?




  • Buford

    I have heard that the COLA for retired military, Social Security and Dissability is retroactive to Jan 1 2011. Is this true?

    • KateKashman

      Buford, I have not heard anything like that. The guidance I read said that it would be effective 1 December 2011 and paid with the January 2012 payments.



  • Danny Stevens

    I welcome the 3.6% increase to MilRet , VA disb., and Fed, employee pay but I find it disappointing that active military pay will be increased a mere 1.6%. In my small mind and being a dumb retired Marine I do not understand this

    Major USMC (Ret) Mustang

    • Michael

      I’m not sure, but did active duty recieve pay raises last year?

      • Jason

        Yes 3.9

  • Carol

    I receive NSC disability,will I get the increase in January?

  • Ronnie B

    Actually medicare fees, which the standard premium for an individual that made $85,000 or less in 2010 which is when the last COLA adjustment was made is actually decreasing to $99.90. Since that is the last COLA adjustment rate that is the last income figures they are using. For families/married couples it is $170,000 or less.

  • Perry T.

    Does anyone know where to find out how much a retiree will be getting in his retired pay starting Dec. 1, 2011?

    • KateKashman

      Perry T, your 1 December retirement pay should be the same as the rest of 2011. Your 1 January 2012 pay, which will be paid on 30 December, will be 3.6% higher than the 2011 rate.

      If that wasn’t your question, let me know and I’ll figure it out.

    • Dale H

      http://www.mypay.mil and then sign into your account. It will have it under RAS.

    • paul bolding

      i have 22 years i retired as a e7 chief

  • tiger56

    Big Deal, a lousy 3.6 percent raise after freezing cola for two years.

    • Brian

      Quit your damn whining – there are millions of people out there losing their jobs / and millions of others not getting anything for an increase and haven’t for the past several years… Suck it up and be happy with what you have

  • jewsr

    what will the medcare increse will be?

  • mike

    i signed up for ss in oct to start recieving in jan i wasw told what my reward is going to be than . do i get the 3.6 raise on jan 1 also?

    • Charles

      You will have a 3.6% COLA (raise) in your January’s Social Security payment and each, every month after that.

  • Willie M Mills

    What percentage will the widow’s are entitle to? Also will our funds will be rectroactive in jan 20012? I’m a spouse of a 100% disable Veterans.

  • Enl Ret

    The 3.6% COLA will be effective Dec 1 and will be reflected in January retired pay, SBP, Social Security, and VA disability compensation checks. But there are two categories of military retirees who won’t receive a 3.6% COLA

    2011 Retirees: Servicemembers who retired during calendar year 2011 will receive a somewhat smaller, partial COLA for this year only, because they already received a January military pay raise (which also raised their 2011 retired pay). Members who retired between Jan. 1, 2011, and Sept. 30, 2011, will receive a partial COLA based on the calendar quarter in which they retired. Jan.-Mar. retirees will receive 3.6%; Apr.-Jun. retirees, 2.4%; and Jul.-Sept. retirees 0.4%. Those who retire after Oct. 1, 2011, will see no COLA this year. Members retired during 2011 will receive full-year COLAs in future years.

    REDUX Retirees: Servicemembers who entered service on or after Aug. 1, 1986 and elected to accept a $30,000 career retention bonus at 15 years of service agreed to accept reduced retired pay and COLAs as a trade-off for the bonus. REDUX retirees’ COLAs are depressed 1% below the normal COLA rate, so they’ll see a 2.6% COLA.

  • eric baker

    is this retro active to 2009 looking for annsers

    • Beans

      No, Eric, it is not retroactive. It is effective 1 December 2011 and will be reflected in the January payments.

  • mmmmhm

    So does this mean that on the back pay that “they” owe me for disablility they will add the 2.4% for evry freakin month that i have been waiting? I havent had my foot in the door long and I’m already feeling you guys pain that have been waiting for years. God Bless You All!!! WHen I got my first retirement check, I was like okay I will be getting my disability check soon. mmmmhm!!! Then life insurance came out, then dental insurance came out among othe fees. Its jus me and my spouse, if we had kids, I would be at a J.O.B.

  • tammie

    Is the increase for people who get va disability also?

    • KateKashman

      Yes, Tammie, it applies to VA payments also.





    • timg

      What does the Good Lord have to do with it!!

  • MacGregor Phillips

    Just looked at my RAS for 2012 on DFAS MyPay web site and it does not reflect any pay raise at all in Gross Pay for Feb 2012.. Retired in 1990.

    • Karen

      Same here! That’s why I came here, searching for an answer…

  • Phyllis T.

    I’m reading about the complaints of the cola increase – I’m happy for whatever I receive since I’m single and my only income is the military so each dollar is a blessing to me. I have no medical bills thank God since all my surgeries are done at the VA and all military related but I still struggle each month with mortgage and life struggle and yes I’m still waiting on disability approval that I requested after my 2nd tour in Iraq. So I’m blessed with the cola and will adjust my lifestyle to accomodate my one check a month

  • Jack

    Hey Folks,, We get what we Get, Lets be happy we get anything at all,,AFCM Usn Ret.

    • Retired Gunny USMC

      Great point, Jack. Amazed at the whiners on this and the site for the Post 9-11 GI bill benefit.

  • Ray

    How the one’s on the white house get there, they need a piss test and fire all !
    Bunch a international players, the Republican Candidate is looking to break the world record to add more flags in his resume as a player.

  • mitch

    were you go to find the pay scale, for va. in 2012

  • Shirley Jenes

    Thank god for what he has done for us. He will supply all our needs. I remenber a song titled that they is a rainbow after the storm, and i think this applies to us also, We all can get down and depressed,and when we put our faith in god he will see us thru. I know he gets credit for our raise and he is over the ones getting it passed

  • 3.6% adds independence for investment portfolio. I intend to purchase stock with it – I have no idea what I would have done without the Veterans Administration. My family did not pass $1.00 dollar to me in their death. The military was more polite than my family. They did not inform me of either parent’s death. They sent me to a hospital within 3 months of discharge in 1976. I think they were the handicap – I thought the USMC was more polite than my table talk quite frankly. Thanks to the Veteran’s that know how to wear the uniform and what side it really is to be on. I am proud of God and his people.

  • Bob

    Attention all disabled vets who are receiving disability payments. My 3.6% increase was not for the full amount. I checked with another vet and his increase was short also. Please take your old monthly amount and multiply it by 3.6%. I bet you will be a $1.00+ short also. Is the government purposely shorting each veteran $12.00 per year?

  • Jack

    How does the DoD justify us paying taxes on 13 paychecks for 2011, and then a full year’s taxes on 12 paychecks in 2012, based on the change for accounting purposes? Are we not getting screwed by paying taxes on one extra paycheck? Or am I missing somethig?

  • JM USN (ret)

    OK, so if I read this right, since I retired 31 May 2011, and I took the Redux, my COLA will be 1.4%, correct?

  • Mindy

    I get Va disability compensation but have not received a cola increase for 2012. Do you know why?

  • bsptss

    My husband is 100% VA disabled. He did not get an increase in his January payment and from what he can tell on the ebenefits website his payment for February does not include an increase either. He did get an increase his SSD. Is there a cap on the amount that affects eligibility for COLA? We live in PA if that makes any difference.

  • Sharon

    When the notice was sent to me about the 3.6% cola for retirees initially they didn’t say anything about service members that retired in 2011 would not see
    the 3.6% because of active duty increase in 2011. We got a whopping $4.00
    extra in his paycheck. The 3.6% would have been a nice increase since his
    retirement plus new job paycheck was together a loss of about 300.00 a month
    income, plus the new job had a wage freeze through 2012. I know I shouldn’t complain, at least we have a retirement check and a paycheck coming in.

  • Dylan

    What is meant exactly by saying that people who retired in 2011 “will receive a smaller COLA for just this one year…” I suppose Zero is smaller but I would like to hear something less vague since my check is exactly the same.

  • Zachary

    I was medicaled out in aug 07 at 60% and then uped to 90% last year. I didn’t see a change in my va check since the cola increased nor has a buddy of mine. Can anyone explain this issue?

  • pat

    does mil retired pay affect social security if taken at age 62?

  • William

    Will the retirement pay for military and VA disability pay be separated instead of taking out from those who recieve less than 50%

  • Tom

    Looking back at my 1099R’s…My gross distribution for 2012 DECREASED by 4.5%. Is this a mistake by DFAS or what happened? COLA was 3.6%, but I saw a -4.5%.

    • KateKashman

      Tom, I suspect it is because of the 13th payment that was received in the 2011 calendar year. Does that line up with what you are seeing? If not, more details would help me answer your question better.