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2015 COLA increase is 1.7 percent

On Oct. 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced an increase to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for federal payments. The 2015 COLA for military retired pay, Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability and survivor benefits, and Social Security benefits will be 1.7 percent. This change will be effective Dec. 1, 2014, and it will appear in January 2015 payments, which will be paid on Dec. 31, 2014, because Jan.1, 2015 is a federal holiday.

There are two groups of retired military servicemembers who will not receive the full 1.7 percent increase: servicemembers who retired in 2014, and servicemembers who selected the Career Status Bonus (CSB)/Redux retirement plan.

Military retirees who retired in 2014 will receive a pro-rated COLA based upon the amount of inflation experienced in the calendar quarters since they retired. Those who retired in the first quarter of the 2014 year (January, February or March) will receive the full 1.7 percent COLA, and those who retired in the last quarter of the year (October, November or December) will receive no COLA adjustment. Those who retired in the second quarter of the year (April, May or June) or the third quarter of the year (July, August or September) will receive pro-rated COLAs. However, those amounts have not yet been announced. All who retired during 2014 will receive full-year COLAs in future years.

Military retirees who chose the CSB/Redux retirement plan agreed to accept reduced COLAs in exchange for the Career Status Bonus received while serving. Redux retirees’ COLAs are 1 percent less than the regular COLA rate.

FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act updates

House and Senate staff members of the Armed Services Committees continue to draft a compromise Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the NDAA, S. 2410, and sent it to the Senate floor. It’s on the Senate calendar and awaits debate. The bill provides $514 billion, including $496 billion for the Department of Defense base budget and $17.7 billion for other national security programs.

The likely bill to be worked on by the Senate is the House-passed H.R. 4435, the Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently on the Senate calendar. The legislation authorizes $521.3 billion for the base budget and $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, primarily in Afghanistan.

Even though the Senate has not passed a NDAA bill, the committee staff members are pre-negotiating a conference committee bill at this time for review when Congress returns in mid-November.

 

TRICARE warns of scam

TRICARE is warning beneficiaries of the need to be aware of a telephone scam affecting beneficiaries older than 65 and on Medicare. Do not give any personal identifiable information, such as birth date, Social Security number, or banking information if you receive such a call. TRICARE representatives never ask beneficiaries for this information when calling for an official DoD survey.

For more information on fraud and abuse reporting, visit the TRICARE Fraud and Abuse website: www.tricare.mil/fraud