Cost-of-living adjustments


Q. My sister’s husband passed away in December last year, and she received his CSRS benefits at 55 percent. She was told she is not entitled to any pay raises sense he retired, which was in 1996. But if she is entitled, who would she contact?

A. She isn’t entitled to any pay raises that her late husband would have received if he had continued working up to the day he died. Instead, she is entitled to 55 percent of the annuity he would have received if he hadn’t elected a survivor annuity. That base survivor annuity has been increased by any annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that occurred since he retired. She, in turn, will be entitled to receive any future COLAs that are added to the annuities of retirees and survivors.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

Leave A Reply