Where Will Your COLA Land in 2024? Get the Latest Estimate From MOAA

Where Will Your COLA Land in 2024? Get the Latest Estimate From MOAA
Prakasit Khuansuwan/EyeEm/Getty Images

By MOAA Staff


Military retirees, Social Security recipients, VA disability beneficiaries, and others receiving benefits tied to the federal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will have to wait one more quarter to find out if their checks will get a boost in 2024.


Heading into the final three months of the 2023 fiscal year, rampant inflation looked like it might hit double digits, but the momentum tapered off. If this year’s pace continues, we may see COLA somewhere between 2% and 3%.


But if any of these slight increments peter out, and if the Fed’s efforts to curb inflation become realized, we might see a COLA at the very bottom of that range – as low as 2%, or just north of that. The most current data point is the June Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is 2.6% higher than last year's baseline, continuing an upward trend this calendar year – for now.




Finding the Figure

While the numbers through June may indicate important trends, they don’t determine the COLA – only the figures from the July, August, and September CPI-W make up the three-month average of interest to retirees and other beneficiaries. That three-month average is compared to the previous year’s three-month average to get the increase; more details are available at MOAA’s COLA Watch page.


The July figure, set for release in mid-August, will be the first of the three data points used to calculate the 2024 COLA.


The bottom line for retirees: Do not expect an adjustment rivaling the 8.7% from 2023, where a spring spike in inflation held steady for the rest of the fiscal year.  


A 2024 COLA of 3% would be the smallest since the 1.3% adjustment in 2021. A full list of annual adjustments can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website; note that the year corresponds to the first month of adjusted benefits, which in recent years has been December (reflected in the January payment). Also note that the process for determining a COLA for military retiree pay has not always been linked to the Social Security COLA process.


[RELATED: Why COLA Is a Battlefield for Your Earned Benefits]


Why It Matters to MOAA

MOAA provides monthly COLA Watch updates to allow members and other MOAA.org visitors to see trends in the CPI-W and use that data in their financial planning. But the association’s interest in COLA goes much deeper, rooted in decades of challenges to the adjustment – challenges that attack the value of the service-earned retirement benefit. Many of these fights are outlined in the “Battlefield” link above.


There have been no talks in the halls of Congress about reductions to this year’s COLA as a way to trim costs or balance budgets, but that doesn’t mean the issue is anywhere close to settled. One part of a much-talked-about Congressional Budget Office report on deficit-reduction options, for instance, discussed a plan to save $250 billion over 10 years by changing how the COLA is calculated. While this and similar proposals may seem attractive to the bottom line, their authors regularly neglect or downplay the fact that any savings will be chipped away from the earned benefits of military retirees.


MOAA continues its work on behalf of members and others whose service-earned retirement and/or VA disability benefits must be protected from inflation to ensure its continued value. Keep up with these efforts along with regular CPI-W updates at MOAA’s COLA Watch page.


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