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Consumer Prices Increased in April
May 22, 2015

Relevant to the cost-of-living-adjustment to civil service annuities for 2016, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased by 0.20 percent in April.

As determined in October, federal retirees received a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their civil service annuities beginning in January 2015, the same increase for Social Security benefits and military retirement annuities.

The new CPI-W figure for April 2015 was 231.520, 1.16 percent lower than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2014, which was 234.242 (1982-84 = 100). The 2014 third quarter average will be the reference figure for determining the 2016 COLA.

Under current law, COLAs for federal retirement annuities, as well as for military retiree annuities and Social Security payments, are determined in reference to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is calculated by economists and statisticians with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI-W is the current index used for measuring increases in the prices of consumer goods, including food and beverages, housing, clothing, transportation, medical care, recreation, education, communication, and more. To learn more about how the BLS calculates the CPI-W, please click here.

NARFE continues to support strong COLAs based on fair assessments of increases in consumer prices to protect the value of federal annuities from inflation. NARFE specifically supports a switch to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which would result in higher COLAs and opposes a switch to the Chained CPI, which would result in lower COLAs.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) received a 0.3 percent COLA in March 2015.

This number was determined after the December 2014 CPI-W was released (229.909) and compared to the December 2013 CPI-W. Because the December 2014 CPI-W figure (229.909) was 0.3 percent higher than the December 2013 CPI-W figure (229.174), FECA benefits will increase 0.3 percent in March.
FECA COLA’s are determined by a different statutorily-set methodology than the COLA for other federal retirees. Benefits awarded under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) to individuals suffering work-related injuries or illnesses, are adjusted according to each calendar year’s percentage change in the CPI-W (rather than as measured by the change from the highest previous third quarter average).  

Looking ahead to the 2016 COLA for FECA benefits, the April 2015 CPI-W figure (231.520) is 0.70 percent higher than the December 2014 CPI-W figure (229.909).

The Consumer Price Index for May 2015 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).


Monthly % Change

% Toward 2016 COLA

July 2014 234.525 - -
Aug 2014 234.030 -0.21 -
Sep 2014 234.170 0.60 -
Oct 2014 233.229 -0.40 -0.43
Nov 2014 231.551 -0.72 -1.15
Dec 2014 229.909 -0.71 -1.85
Jan 2015 228.294 -0.70 -2.54
Feb 2015 229.421 0.50 -2.06
March 2015 231.055 0.71 -1.36
April 2015 231.520 0.20 -1.16



National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association)
606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

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