No COLA

Govexec and the Senior Journal report as expected that the federal government confirmed today that federal and postal annuitants and Social Security recipients will not receive a cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) in their retirement benefits for 2016.

Today also is the beginning of the Medicare open season. For the second year in a row, CMS has failed to specify the Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles in advance of the open season.  Absent Congressional action, many CSRS annuitants will see a spike in the Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles as detailed in this Forbes article.

The absence of the COLA for 2016 is attributable to non-existent inflation.  As someone who lived through the raging inflation of the 1970s, the FEHBlog does not see the absence of inflation as a bad thing. Nevertheless, the FEHBlog recognizes that no annuity bump for 2016 is a problem for folks on a fixed income. Perhaps Congress should consider changing the COLA measuring stick.

On the bright side, the addition of a self plus one enrollment type to the FEHBP should help married annuitants.  Today, OPM issued a benefits administration letter about significant plan changes to the FEHBP and FEDVIP. There are no significant plan changes to FEDVIP for 2016. The significant plan changes in the FEHBP for 2016 are described in this OPM attachment and Fast Facts that accompanied the BAL.  Take a look at these documents if you are an FEHBP enrollee.

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