Cost-of-Living Adjustment Coming in September

Eligible NYSLRS retirees will see a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in their monthly pension payments beginning in late September 2021. For payment dates, check our pension payment calendar.

This COLA is a permanent annual increase to your retirement benefit. It is based on the cost-of-living index and is designed to address inflation.

cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) coming soon

How Cost-of-Living Adjustment is Determined

COLA payments are based on the rate of inflation, as reflected in the consumer price index published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The law requires that COLA payments be calculated based on 50 percent of the annual rate of inflation, measured at the end of the fiscal year (on March 31st). In addition, the COLA cannot be less than 1 percent or greater than 3 percent of your benefit.

The COLA adjustment is applied to the first $18,000 of your benefit calculated as a Single Life Allowance, even if you selected a different pension payment option. Once your COLA payments begin, you will automatically receive an increase to your monthly benefit each September.

The September 2021 COLA equals 1.4 percent, for a maximum annual increase of $252.00, or $21.00 per month before taxes.

eligibility for cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)

When Will You See the Increase?

Eligible retirees will see the first 2021 COLA payment in their September pension payment. It will be available to those with direct deposit on September 30, 2021. If you receive a paper check, the COLA will be included in the check mailed on September 29, 2021.

You can sign in to your Retirement Online account to view a current breakdown of your pension payment. If you have direct deposit and are eligible for a COLA increase, you will receive notification of the net change in your monthly payment amount in September.

If you are not eligible for a COLA yet, you will receive your first increase in the month after you become eligible. This payment will include a prorated amount to cover the month you became eligible. After that, you will receive a COLA increase each September.

41 thoughts on “Cost-of-Living Adjustment Coming in September

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Please review the eligibility requirements outlined in the blog post graphic. Also, you can find out the date you will become eligible for COLA by calling our customer service representatives. Call 1-866-805-0990, press 2, then follow the prompts.

      You can also email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  1. Kenneth Lomando

    I retired in 1987 and saw the first cola many years later. If my memory serves me correctly there was a catch up increase for the retirees based on the year they retired. My question is will the NYSLRS be doing another such catch up increase for the retirees retired over 30 years. As we all know the pensions were a lot lower 30 plus years ago.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The State Legislature would need to pass a bill and the Governor would need to sign it into law in order to increase the COLA amount for retirees retired over 30 years.

      Reply
  2. Frank Coleman

    It was not the New York State Legislature that initiated , ( the initial ) COLA for NY State employees. The initial concept was introduced by former State Comptroller, H. Carl McCall. He traveled the state and spoke of the necessity for New York State to provide this benefit to its retirees because of the vast amount of investment returns that the retirement system was enjoying. Now, our investment returns are far, far greater than when former Comptroller McCall was advocating for a Cost of living benefit. Once he created this momentum, and the State’s residents realized that it would have no bearing on their taxes and that the monies generated to provide this benefit to State retirees would be generated through the investment returns made by the pension board, and that it wouldn’t be coming out of the taxpayer’s pockets, they had no opposition to it. Now, with the HUGE revenues that currently exist in the pension system; I’m wondering why Mr. DiNapoli is not out there advocating with a viable plan to provide a REAL cost of living allowance for NY State retirees? We, as State Employees have won multiple law suites against past Governors for raiding the pension system to balance the State budget. The State lost those law suites, in the NY State Supreme Court AND again in the Appellate Court, and were ordered to repay the money that they took from the pension account immediately, or face penalties. That set a precedent, that the pension system is OFF LIMITS for the State to use as its personal slush fund. Therefore, as a result of the State NOT being able to raid OUR pension fund and the fact that it has been managed quite well; we now have a huge surplus of money in the account. That money is for past, present and future retirees! A simple mathematical equation could easily provide for a substantial raise in our meager 1.4% COLA raise this year’s day every year! And, it doesn’t HAVE to be tied to the Consumer price index!, like it currently is. It could be tied to the ACTUAL cost of living increase. Those numbers reflect more accurately the REAL cost increases that we as retirees face. Health care increases, fuel increases, dental increases, food increases, etc. All we need is for our comptroller to lean into this, and outline that the pension system can handily sustain the additional spending, ( which it easily can!) and then get several sponsors ( Legislators ), to introduce the bill into the State Legislature and see it through to completion by the Assembly, State Senate and then have the Governor simply sign it. I’m all for keeping a healthy amount of money in our State Pension account, but we can afford a better benefit to current and future retirees, so why not? And yes we all realize that the market fluctuates. But our pension funds are professionally managed and have done well even in times of fiscal trouble, and have exploded with cash for at least six years now. All our professional pension managers have to do is set aside a healthy cushion of money ( which already exists!), to make sure that the pension system is solvent even if the market dips.

    Reply
    1. James DePasquale

      Great post!!! Constitutionally, they can’t raid our pension fund. BUT have you seen what’s going on these days? So many unconstitutional actions are taken in the name of “a national emergency”. Who’s to say when they run the state into the ground they won’t declare an emergency and raid the fund. Never say never. Especially today.

      Reply
  3. Wendy Feuer

    If I was considered a ‘retiree’ at age 55 and then started to work for NYC and received partial pension while working, then stopped receiving any NSLRS pension for about 10 years, does this count towards the 5 years to make me eligible for the COLA? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      For account-specific information about your COLA eligibility, please email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website (http://www.emailNYSLRS.com). One of them will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
      1. Donald Hawkins

        I would like to know how NYSLRS figures what the COLA will be as Social Security is predicting a much percentage increase.

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS Post author

          State law requires that COLA payments be calculated based on 50 percent of the annual rate of inflation, measured at the end of the State fiscal year (March 31). In addition, the COLA cannot be less than 1 percent or greater than 3 percent of your benefit.

          Reply
    1. joe esposito

      you are so right! hopefully some day soon they will make this happen. great comment that is rarely mentioned any time.

      Reply
  4. Gary Hal Hohenstein

    1.4 % ?? What a joke ! How much did the politicians get this past year? Inflation during the past year was actually around 5 % .

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Retirement benefits, including COLA, are established by law. The decision on whether to enact new laws comes from the State Legislature and the Governor. The State Legislature would need to pass a bill and the Governor would need to sign it into law in order to increase the COLA calculation amount.

      Reply
    2. James DePasquale

      It is ridiculous. The pension system is flush with money. They can afford to do much better. Besides, the state is going to raid our pension system soon enough. So we might as well get more while we can.

      Reply
  5. James DePasquale

    I don’t understand why the Cola isn’t based on my entire pension. 18,000 is an arbitrary number. 21 dollars a month doesn’t even cover the increase in gasoline prices let a loan food, taxes, etc. it’s kind of ridiculous.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Retirement benefits, including COLA, are established by law. The decision on whether to enact new laws comes from the State Legislature and the Governor. The State Legislature would need to pass a bill and the Governor would need to sign it into law in order to increase the $18,000 COLA calculation amount.

      Reply
    2. Fred Keyton

      I AGREE. THE SHOULD RAISE THAT 18000 TO MAYBE 25 AS MOST RETIREES MAKE MUCH MORE THEN WHEN THE COLA WAS STARTED.

      Reply
        1. James Hennessey

          I agree with James DePasquale and in addition I believe pensioners should get the full cost of living not one half the cost of living.

          Reply
    3. Walter Schmeling

      I too believe that the COLA based on the first $18,000 of your pension is obsolete. When was THIS number determined, decades ago? It should increase as pay scales increase, that would make sense. Secondly, I have called my NY State legislator on PEF issues in past years. When I was an active employee I served as steward, delegate and workers comp coordinator and I will tell you, my legislator did not take too kindly to NYS employee issues, it was just the feeling I had when I brought up PEF union/ State worker issues to him. Lastly, I would think an issue like this, increasing that $18,000 threshold, is more of a union issue. The union should fight to get that threshold increased for it’s retirees. After all, albeit a small amount, we retirees are still paying union dues, no?

      Reply
  6. John M. Cullen

    I never received my 2020 COLA increase in my Pension check, I call the pension system every month but it is still not corrected!

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We apologize for the trouble you are having. Your message is important to us and we have sent you a private message in response.

      Reply
  7. Barbara Ann Rivers

    My mother emma jane Frazier is deceased, two years ago,I was left as her benefits-barbara Ann rivers, do I still collect her benefits or it stop when she passed away.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      We are sorry for your loss. Whether a NYSLRS retiree has death benefits depends on several factors, including their retirement plan, membership tier and the pension payment option they chose at retirement.

      Please contact our customer service representatives for more information. You can call them at 866-805-0990 (518-474-7736 in the Albany, New York area), or email them using the secure email form on our website at http://www.emailNYSLRS.com.

      Reply
      1. Susan Rossetti

        Susan Rossetti I also didn’t get my 2020 cost of living increase in my pension can I get it retroactive?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          For account-specific questions about COLA payments, please call our customer service representatives at 1-866-805-0990 (or 518-474-7736 in the Albany, NY area), press 2, then follow the prompts. You can also email our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our account representatives will be able to answer your questions. Filling out the secure form allows them to safely contact you about your personal account information.

          Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      We are the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), the retirement system for employees of New York State and municipalities outside New York City.

      If you have a question about a payment from a New York City retirement system, you can reach the New York City Police Pension Fund at 646-905-5596 or the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund at 718-999-2300.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Direct deposit payments are paid on the last business day of each month. For September, you should receive your payment on September 30. If you still have not received your payment after today, please contact us again.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      If you have direct deposit, you will receive notification of the net change in your monthly pension amount in September if you are eligible for this COLA increase. The September 2019 COLA equals 1 percent, for a maximum annual increase of $180, or $15 per month before taxes.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Social Security disability does not determine your eligibility for a COLA from NYSLRS. Any COLA that you would receive from NYSLRS would be based on your NYSLRS pension benefit.
      For more information about NYSLRS COLA eligibility, please visit our COLA page.

      Reply

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