2013 Cost-of-Living Adjustment
Judy Beard, Director
(This article appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Beginning in January, retirees will enjoy a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of 1.7 percent. COLAs, which are based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), are added to annuities.
For Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) retirees, the increase will be applied to monthly benefits before any deductions are taken, and rounded down to the nearest whole dollar.
For Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) retirees, the COLA will be 1.7 percent. (When the increase in the CP is 2 percent or less, the COLA is equal to the CPI. When the CP exceeds 2 percent, the cost-of-living adjustment is limited to an amount less than the actual CPI.) FERS retirees do not receive a COLA until age 62 (except in the event of disability, when receiving survivor benefits, or under other special circumstances).
As many members know, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has had a serious backlog of retirement claims for some time now, a problem the APWU has been monitoring closely. The latest data from the OPM indicates that the backlog has decreased by 32 percent, but many retirees are still waiting months for their applications to be processed.
We invited a representative of OPM to attend the APWU National Retirees Meeting at the 21st Biennial National Convention. The representative spoke to the retirees about how to navigate OPM’s Retirement Operations Center over the phone and online. She also set up an onsite Customer Service Center and assisted people on an individual basis, explaining how their retirement applications are processed, how their pay is calculated, and how they can access information and change their benefits. We appreciated her participation, and we are optimistic about continuing to improve our working relationship with OPM.
If you are planning to retire soon, we recommend that you set aside some funds to cover your personal expenses while you are waiting to begin receiving your annuity payments. Be sure to download your personnel folder from Shared Services; request an estimate of your annuity, and talk it over with your family. Remember that OPM is still backlogged in making annuity payments despite the recent progress in reducing the backlog.
Remembering Beverly Shealy
APWU retirees lost a great friend on Sept. 16, when Beverly Shealy passed away. Beverly served as the APWU Central Region Retiree Delegate since 2000 and president of the Cleveland, OH Retiree Chapter since 1997.
Beverly was active on legislative and retirement issues, and she clearly enjoyed her work! The Cleveland Retiree Chapter often had the largest delegation at national events.
She will be truly missed. Our hearts go out to her family and her union brothers and sisters.
We Are One
In November, our nation observes National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to educate our fellow union members and families about the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. Please visit the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org for more information on the illness and how to take action.
November is also National Caregivers Month, a time to thank those who care for family members, neighbors and friends, or who perform volunteer work as caregivers. Thank you for your compassion.
As the year comes to a close, we mark our calendars with holidays. These special occasions offer a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our union family, cherish our loved ones, and honor our values. In embracing the true spirit of these holidays, we really don’t need a special date on the calendar to remind us to love and respect one another, and to live and work together as one.