Editor’s note: This article by Jim Absher originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
The Department of Defense has announced the 2022 Continental United States (CONUS) Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) rates, with rates dropping across the board and several areas seeing the monthly payment disappear in the new year.
CONUS COLA is different than Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) COLA because it is a taxable pay rather than a non-taxable allowance. Also unlike OCONUS COLA, it only changes once each year, rather than monthly, and is based on the cost-of-living rather than fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies.
CONUS COLA is paid to military members stationed in high-cost areas in the US. The rate varies by geographic location, rank, years of service, and dependency status.
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CONUS COLA also differs from the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) because it considers the costs-of-living that are unrelated to housing costs when computing the amount. CONUS COLA can also be paid to service members living in base housing, in barracks, or onboard ships.
2022 CONUS COLA Changes
In 2022 most recipients will see decreases to their payments for the upcoming year.
CONUS COLA base monthly payments range from $33 to $59 month for members with dependents and $22 to $45 monthly for those without dependents. For example, an E-6 with 10 years service, living in San Francisco will be eligible for a $120 monthly CONUS COLA in the upcoming year. This amount is taxable.
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The following Military Housing Areas (MHAs), with their multipliers, are eligible for CONUS COLA in 2022:
- San Francisco - 3
- Boulder - 1
- Nantucket - 2
- Long Island - 3
- New York City - 6
- Staten Island - 1
The COLA changes will also take effect in several locations in Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia which are not in DoD designated Military Housing Areas.