Legislative Update

COL Robert Schlegel, USA (Ret), Legislative Affairs Chair

Be Ready for a Lower COLA in 2024

By: Kevin Lilley, Lilley serves as MOAA’s digital content manager.

(From the MOAA Newsletter, dated April 05, 2023) Version Abridge)

The 2024 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for military retirees, Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, and others receiving various federal benefits won’t be set until October, but a quick check of the trend lines show a significant gap between this year’s figures and last year’s.

A short primer: The annual COLA calculations stem from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), an inflation measurement released monthly. The average CPI-W from July, August, and September is compared with the average of that period from the previous year to determine the increase. In 2023, for example, that average rose 8.7% above the previous year’s baseline, triggering the largest increase in four decades.


While CPI-W figures from earlier in the year won’t affect the calculations, they serve as a good indicator of where the adjustment could be heading. This year’s February figures, for example, were 1.1% above the baseline – less than a third of the increase from the same time last year.

Protecting Your COL

Just because the COLA boost may be less than recent years doesn’t make the adjustment itself any less of a target. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) proposal at the start of the 118th Congress suggested the government could save a quarter-trillion dollars over 10 years by changing how it calculated COLA, moving to a different index which would erode the value of these benefits over time.

[RELATED: How ‘Chained CPI’ Would Reduce Your Military Retirement Benefit]

There has been no legislative movement in this direction, but with the administration’s FY 2024 budget proposal just a few weeks old, and with debt ceiling and other financial pressures mounting, there’s no clarity on what Congress could put in place. MOAA has fought similar COLA-reduction plans with great success over the years – you can read a recap of these battles, dating back more than four decades, at this link.

Keep up with the latest on this and other MOAA legislative priorities via MOAA’s Advocacy News page. And be sure to register at MOAA’s Legislative Action Center, so you can make your voice heard by contacting your lawmakers on issues of importance to the wider uniformed services community. 

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