OPERS announces 2020 cost-of-living adjustment

Based on Consumer Price Index, some retirees will see a 1.4% increase

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Aug. 14, 2019 – OPERS has announced the cost-of-living adjustments that will be available for retirees in 2020.

Those whose retirement effective date is prior to Jan. 7, 2013, will continue to receive a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

Members whose effective date of retirement is on or after Jan. 7, 2013, are scheduled to have next year’s COLA based on the CPI-W, the government’s inflation index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. According to state law, the annual COLA for these retirees is to be based on the change in the CPI-W index from the end of June 2018 to the end of June this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the CPI-W index increased 1.40 percent over that period. (For reference, click on “CPI-W, June 2019” on this page of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and refer to cell AD-7 in the spreadsheet.) Thus, the COLA issued to those retirees beginning with their 2020 benefit anniversary date will be 1.4 percent.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • Really, 1.4%. Won’t help much at all. (And I know this comment won’t be seen by anyone, as you only post positive comments.)

    • I agree, 1.4% will never cover my health care increases. The 3% has just barley covered the health care in the past.

      • All retirees should get the the same cost a living raise !!!!! I worked 30 years but because I retired in 2014 I only get 1.4 , this is wrong to do us this way!!!!!!!

        • Because you retired in 2014, your FAS was higher than those who retired earlier. By your reasoning, I should receive an adjustment to my 2008 base amount to match later retirees. In fact, your 1.4% could even be equal to or greater than my 3% depending on that base amount.

          • I don’t think you can make that blanket statement about FAS being higher for someone who retired after 2013. It all depends on how much you made. I agree that those of us who retired with 30+ years of service but weren’t eligible until after 2013 have not been treated fairly.

          • This is correct. The real percentage the current amount decreases every year after retirement. It stays the same amount based on 3% of the original amount at retirement.

        • C’mon. You have to look at those who retired say in 1997 and retired at a smaller percentage of their final income. I.e. 30,000 compared to 60,000 today.

          • I don’t know anyone who makes $60000.00 retirement on PERS! Us recent retirees worked in good faith, just like previous retirees did! Why should we be penalized because we’re younger. Isn’t that age discrimination?

          • Absolutely!. I am one of those employees retiring in 2001. Our salaries couldn’t compete with the salaries in 2019 or 2020. We also receive health subsidies. The only thing I object to and will always object to is the 50% we have taken from the Social Security benefits each year due to the Windfall Elimination Provision Offset stealing 50% of our already earned SS benefits year after year. I do not look for anything to change on this WEP OFFset , or its unfairness because it is too political. We paid into SS for years, earned benefits, only to have them taken when we began work for the State (only in 15 states however). Those of us who fell under this Offset since 1983 will never get back what we paid into the Social Security system, they have taken 50% of them unfairly. Yes, we receive health subsidies thru OPERS, and I appreciate that. BUT with the Medicare Advantage Plans, we pay very little for any premiums. But we still have the Windfall Offset to contend with., For most of us, we pay little, or zero premiums and had we received what we earned in benefits from outside jobs, we wouldn’t need the health subsidies. The WEP Offset continues to be unfair and wrong in my opinion. Average SS benefit is about $1,400, most of us receive one half that due to the Offset. It is what it is. Still needs repeal or receiving a partial reimbursement.

          • There are two bills pending in Congress, , HR 3934 Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act and HR 4540 Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act. We are proud to strongly support both pieces of legislation.


          • This legislation has been before congress before , more years than I can remember,it’s never going to happen.I doubt with the Social Security system going broke, they are worried about people with a pension. I hope it does, but you have to be realistic.

        • C’mon. You have to look at those who retired say in 1997 and retired at a smaller percentage of their final income. I.e. 30,000 compared to 60,000 today. I worked for 33 years and having 3% COLA is based on my salaries in the in the last few years of my employment. Therefore I am still not able to keep up with inflation.

        • I agree. Why are some with 30 years of service being rewarded with 3% and others being penalized with less than half of that. We all worked 30 years.

          • Hello Karen Q – Has nothing to do with 30 years of service. You had to retire before (Jan 7 2013) to get the 3% COLA for life. So everyone should have known if you were going to retire in 2013 or later you were going to receive the 3% COLA thru 2018. Then in 2019 you would start to get the CPI. But we are getting a bonus because were all getting the 3% for this year, be happy about that – I know I am. Because we should all (2013 retires and later) be getting the CPI in 2019. Not news to me I knew the above Info since Dec 2012. I retired 12/1/14 – (31.5yrs)

          • Exactly! A COLA stipulation should have never been included in a retirement clause. It is cost of living, one which the economy should be the only deciding factor!

          • I agree with others who also made a long, hard, life-changing decision on when to retire . We made our decision, based on the rules given to us by OPERS at that time. I was promised a 3% COLA. I want what was promised. OPERS should honor that promise!

        • I. Couldn’t agree with you more, it is NOT fair, I also worked thirty years and am not receiving the 3%… 😡


        • I’ve worked 40 years this December. I was told I was gonna have spousal insurance when I retired. Now I may not even have insurance myself if and when I retire.

        • They can’t work miracles people. They are trying to keep this pension alive and as healthy as possible for OUR future. A diificult task.

        • I absolutely agree with you! It’s not fair to keep penalizing the people that about to retire or just recently retired. Pretty soon, it will get to where there is no extra benefit for working for the Government. They’ve already taken away health insurance as it use to be at one time. It just keeps getting worse for all new retirees!

        • I did the same thing. Although I retired at age 50 with 30 years and went back to work starting out as a new employee. I cashed in the allowable amount of sickleave, lost my five weeks vacation a year started out as a new employee. Now they’re talking about taking the 3% from us. Had I known this I would’ve just stayed employed and not retired the first time.

        • Then you would prefer that everyone get a 3 percent cola and everyone lose there retirement in two or three years because the system would go bankrupt in a couple year if you retired after 2000 you are making more a month than me I retired in 1996 those years you worked you made more than several dollars an hour than those of us that worked in the 90s so just like us just take what you get and be thankful for what you get

    • Look at how the 3% COLA has raised our pension amounts whether you’ve been retired a few years, 10 years, or whatever. What would it take to give those who have recently to increase COLA from 1.4% to 2% and decreasing all others a few tenths of a percent, and what do members think about that idea? That might take 3 tenths of a percent off of the 3% COLA.

      Why not try to have as level a playing field as possible for all members? May help reduce the percent of people unsatisfied with OPERS health coverage.

      • I retired earlier than I planned for one reason only, to lock in the 3% COLA. For people to start suggesting that I and others give up part of it now to level the playing field is just wrong. You cant have people make retirement decisions based on certain rules and then suddenly change them after. I gave up several years of adding 2.5% per year to my pension amount to lock in that COLA. I’m sorry that they took away the guaranteed 3% for those who were not able to retire before the changes were made but please stop trying to punish those of us who made final decisions based on the rules we were given.

        • Kathleen, I agree with you 100%. I retired early to lock in the 3% as well. It was promised and passed into law. To try to remove it is unconscionable.

          And as we all know, it really is only 3% the first year after retirement. The percentage goes down every year.

          • You are right, you do not get 3% each year. That is only the first year. After that you get the same amount of money each year, but it isn’t 3% anymore. That amount of money will be the same on year 50 of retirement as it was on year one. I have been retired for 5 years now and my increase last month was the same as the other 4 years though my gross had gone up.

        • Dear Retiree,
          It is not just, right or fair for OPERS to distribute COLA unequally. If one group gets 3%, all groups should get 3%. If one group’s COLA is based on CPI, all groups should be based on CPI. Equality is important because it is the foundation of any fair society. Is OPERS being fair? I think not.

        • The rest of us would like to retire, instead we have had our service time extended and benefits reduced to provide for you something to enjoy the rest of us never will. Retiring early was YOUR choice, You should have planned ahead if the reduction of a few tenth of percentage point affected you financially that much. We have made retirement decisions and planned based on the old rules yet they was changed for us. WE are being punished for the benefit of you.

          • Want to Retire,
            Yes, retiring earlier than planned with 32 years was my choice. And I did plan ahead. I planned ahead and made my decision based on the changes that OPERS was making. I made an informed, well thought out and planned decision that was different from what I had thought it would be prior to OPERS’ pension reform. I had planned on working several more years but when faced with the choice of keeping or losing the guaranteed 3% COLA I did my homework and decided it was best for me to retire to keep the COLA. We all were made aware of what changes would affect us before they happened. The difference between your situation and mine is that you are still working. You have the ability to continue working and earn more towards your pension. I on the other hand cannot. I made a final decision. I’ll say it again, FINAL, based on a guarantee from OPERS that I receive an annual 3% simple COLA. So please think about that when you are insinuating that those of us who retired prior to 2013 are somehow receiving more than we deserve. This change to the COLA for those retiring after 2013 should not be a surprise. We’ve all been informed about it for nearly 10 years.

          • Stop working for the State then, and get a job in the private sector if you don’t like what’s coming.

          • Sorry Retiree
            I am not insinuating that your are receiving more than you deserve, but lets be honest, you are getting a far better deal than those of us who where not able to retire before 2013. Congratulations on being able to work 32 years but some of us only wanted to work 30 but was forced into extended service to be able to collect our pension and ensure you are able to continue to collect yours. If/when I am able to retire I will be working in the private sector, my reduced benefits and Cola will not afford me not to be working. I feel for the group C and possibly group B employees, will they get punished even more in the future? I pray that I will be grandfathered in the next scheduled pension reform.

          • Yes you are saying we are getting played too much I worked 32 years retired had also worked in jobs so i had all the points for retirement with so but was told i would only get 40 percent of what i was entitled to on ss and the union didnt care they didnt even try too help and we never got more than 1 percent cola and now people like you are bicthing cause they want too give the ones that retired before 2012 I got messed over when I retired both by the state and federal government an still am and the union is not helping

          • No….we were given a choice for a 3% COLA or an indexed COLA. We gambled and, in fact, could lose out if inflation increases in the coming years. It needs to be cleared that we were not just given the 3%. The fact that were given a choice means there was a risk either way.

          • You are not being punished. It’s just the facts that market changes influences the benefits due to the return on the OPERS investments.

        • I totally agree with “Retiree” and also retired earlier than I wanted to for that exact same reason! I ( and many, many others) certainly would NOT have retired when I did if there was any inkling that our agreed-upon COLA would be changed. The statements “you can’t have people make retirement decisions based on certain rules and then suddenly change them after” and “please stop trying to punish those of us who made final decisions based on the rules we were given” are entirely applicable. In my mind, to change the COLA rules on folks like “Retiree” and I agreed to would be TOTALLY wrong, a breach of contract, and very unfair.

          • No one is saying anything about Social Security they Keep 70% of your income. Yes I came out December 31,2012 and Yes I retired with 26 years and over 55 years old to get the 3%. I’m thankful that I did. Congress doesn’t care.

          • With respect, Joe, we all had the rules changed on us after the game was started!! When I was hired, I was told by OPERS that I would receive a 3% COLA and health care. I was told to save in their Additional Annuity Plan which would also receive the same 3% COLA that my pension would receive. All of those promises/statements are no longer valid! OPERS needs to be just and fair – foundation of our society. Everyone should receive the same COLA.

        • That it exactly what I did. They offer was made by OPERS, I accepted after much thought and deliberation OPERS would not say how long the offer would be open. Lots of pressure to decide. I gave up adding to my retirement pension to lock the 3%COLA. It can’t be touched.

        • My wife and I made the determination (and it was a gamble at the time) to opt for the 3% vs. the COLA based on an index. We took a risk that this would be the best choice; it has been so far, but may not be in the future when inflation increases. At any rate, it would be unfair to change the terms of our COLA after giving us the choice, which also entailed a risk on our part. OPERS has already tried to void this commitment in the past by changing our COLAs to an indexed COLA. And, by the way, when they tried to do this, they do not say anything about “sharing” with those who do not have a 3% COLA!

        • Ohhhh I totally agree with you. I retired in 2013 ONLY because OPERS stated that those who retired “by 2013 would be GUARANTEED a 3 percent increase yearly.” NOW they’re saying “on or before January 7, 2013”? I could have/WOULD have worked over my 30 years had I not been PROMISED the guaranteed 3percent! I don’t know how OPERS can make that statement and then take it back. I retired 9/1/13

          • I am sorry — JoEtta — that you were misinformed when you retired. I fully remember in Dec 2012 anyone who retires before Jan 7 2013 will receive 3% COLA for life (case closed). because their was two of my buddy’s that retired Dec 2012 just to get the guaranteed 3% COLA. And anyone retiring after Jan 7 2013 would receive the 3% COLA for 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018. Then starting in 2019 all retirees after (Jan 7 2013) would start to receive the CPI rate (Consumer Price Index). Which we are ahead of the game because were getting the 3% in 2019 (bonus). Yes 2020 is going to stink getting the 1.4%, then hopefully something in 2021 and so on. But I knew it was coming 7 years ago. I am envious of you (PRE – Jan 7 2013) retirees – good for you. I retired 12/1/14.


        • This is the most selfish post I’ve seen in a while. Everyone wants what they have earned and unfortunately none of us have a true guarentee of any of our benefits cause they will do want they want. You may not be in sight now, but you will be. It is what it is and as a true believer I know I will be taken care of.

        • I TOTALLY AGREE. We knew years before our retirement that it was going to change just like everyone else. They had the same opportunities that we had and chose to roll the dice. Life is a gamble.

        • I totally agree with you as that is why I retired when I did as well. It’s like all other laws, rules, etc., you have to set a starting point. I, too, have missed out on things in the past. Such is life.

          • The fact of the matter is this. The retirement groups need to be changed. Across the board it should be 35 years of state service before any employee can retire. No grandfathering in for any reason. All current retirees should be entitled to a 3%COLA every anniversary date. The current system is non sustainable.

        • I agree, I also retired earlier than planned for the 3% cola lock in. What is really sad is we should all be more than upset at our SS $$ being kept by the government classified as “ double dipping “. Do the math. As for me I paid into SS before I started working for public employment and am loosing a $600.00 monthly check. So, sorry about your cola changes but this issue is a much bigger rip off passed by politicians many years ago. At the very least reimburse all who paid into it our money back. Moral of the story…….. you deal with governmental entities you are chancing getting absurd changes in the middle of the game.

        • Definitely agree with you. I retired in April of 2012 for the same reason. I also gave up part of my deferred comp to buy my military time to increase my pension. We couldn’t control the decisions that were made then and why should we give up what we worked for.

        • YES. Those of us who retired pre-2013 when the 3% COLA was legally mandated should not feel guilty about it AT ALL! I feel that OPERS is now pitting groups of retirees against each other as a new strategy.

        • I completely agree. Had I known that the 3% could be taken away, I would not have retired. Well said! Also what about the major increase in our portion of our Healthcare costs in anticipation of the “Cadillac Tax”. To my knowledge that tax was not imposed so what happened to that money?

        • Imo, it was wrong for opers to lock anyone in with a guaranteed 3% cola. There is no such thing in today’s economy. So all this guarantee is doing is depleting the fund faster for every retiree. Healthcare coverage was never a guarantee, neither should there be a locked in cola amount.

        • Agreed. I concur. I wanted to make 40yrs., but left the last 3 hanging to lock in the COLA. I followed what they said to do on everything. Its been a steady drip of disappearing benefits. OPERS is the one doing all the changing and taking. We should be griping at them ; not each other.

          • I too wanted to work another 14 months to reach 25 years with last employer. I would have received another classification raise as well. But I left because of the promised COLA lock in. I can deal with the 2 year freeze in COLA. Not happy about it but I can deal with it. However, our COLA should not be changed to “level a field”. They (those after 2012) knew the deal when they retired. If it wasn’t sufficient, they should have put in more years to increase their percentage. Based on financial info given to me prior to signing papers, I looked at my financial projections and made the decision.

      • I retired in 1997 with almost 33 years of service. My benefit was based on a much lower income in 1997 than it would have been in 2012. So the 3% I get every year is based on that calculated OPERS benefit in 1997. So try to imagine trying to keep up with inflation based on a 1997 salary. If I was just now retiring I would have been making a lot more than I did in 1997 (theoretically hopeful) and be happy with 1.4%. Even though it’s always not fair to some, I’m glad they grandfathered in us older retirees.

        • 9/6/2019
          I retired in 1997 with 39 plus years and totally agree with you that my my pension is still based on what my salary was for the last 3 years of working. That is a far cry from what you cry babies are making now and still have years to increase your base number for retirement purposes. It is hard to keep up with inflation but some how I am doing fine and will hopefully continue. So stop crying and live with it.

      • You’ve got to be kidding me. How about they just be fair, and leave us alone. First they remove the spouses from the health insurance, unless you want to pay 1200.00 and over to keep them insured, then they keep raising our own insurance costs every year, (which was “0” premium cost), and now it is the cost of living. It has to stop. I’m sick of hearing, oh well, it’s the baby boomers, people are living longer, the economy, blah, blah, blah. We worked hard, paid 30 years or more of service into PERS. Niw they want to take it away, slowly and bit by bit.

        • I agree with you…have not seen my COLA increase in the last five years it it continuing to be taken up by insurance increases…and now the insurances are charging for all medications…and want you to pay before you get them….and they are going to drop retirees that aren’tof Medicare age…what do we do?

        • Kathy – the administrators (they) are not making these changes to be mean, there’s simply not enough money to continue providing all of these benefits for everyone. Yes, you and I worked hard for 30+ years and should expect a pension, but retirees outside the public sector receive nothing what so ever from their employers at retirement. People who retired years ago from other company jobs are having their pensions cut. I’m thankful to have been a public employee.

        • Yes, I’m considering going to a high deductible/health savings plan (catastrophic coverage) for my pre-Medicare health insurance. I expected yearly increases, but was unpleasantly surprised by how much. I too would have kept working, just for the insurance. I hope the next president fixes this insurance mess!

      • In 2012 we were told if we retired by end of year we would continue receiving 3% COLA. If you retired after, based on index you could get 0 – 3% after 2018. I wasn’t ready to retire bc I was due a decent pay raise in 13. I had planned to stay another 14 months. But I also did not want to lose the guaranteed 3% COLA. To satisfy those who retired after 2013, that would not be fair to those who took OPERS at their word.

        • I agree. I planned on working longer but decided to retire in 2012 to lock in the 3% cost of living. At the time it was a difficult decision because I enjoyed my job, but, felt I was making the right decision regarding my future.

      • There was a cutoff date for those who chose to retire before the final date and lock in the 3% COLA. Most probably could have continued to work but OPERS changed the rules so we played by them. We left to lock in the COLA as promised. Let’s hope OPERS will continue to do the right thing and pay that amount. It was the same deal for those of you who retired years past. Play by the rules.

    • Every single year pers changes the rules, so you never know what your going to get as far as cola or healthcare. So you older retirees-before 2013 stop crying about what you were promised, every year it’s a different promise and changed rules. Pers needs to keep the same playing field for current retirees and future that are still paying for their future. All for one and one for all. Keep it the same for everyone!!!!!

      • I am an older retiree — retired in 2007. I’m not crying — but I did retire under the rules at the time. Suddenly, OPERS came to us snatching things they gave us; things we were counting on — and basically told us to live with it. Why? So that everyone could have health care in retirement. Share a piece of the pie. Then another piece. Take even less. Be gracious. I’ve had a bellyful of being asked to keep sacrificing for the sake of the retirement system. Stop crying about older retirees who have already made plenty of sacrifices….

    • Will those who retired before 2013 be receiving only 3% COLA or will it be the COLA itself (5%, 10% whatever it may be)?

    • Opers is no better than social security now when you factor in the health care cost. On social security your spouse may have never worked, would still get half of yours and get Medicare from you working.

    • This is absolutely horrible!! It won’t even cover the increase in health care costs!! AND I don’t even use health benefits as I don’t need them. Something is very wrong here! So from now on, every year I am going to start seeing my take home pay go down….way to go OPERS!!

    • I agree but for a different reason, our cost of living is not a true cost of living it would if it was calculated based on your current retirement amount and not the amount when you retired. The way the cola is calculated prohibits anyone from keeping up from inflation. 1.4% of what you received as your first year of retirement is not equal to 1.4% of today economy.

    • they need to increase the contribution of current workers. it’s at 10%, make it 10.5%. and while we’re on the subject of retirement, eliminate the income ceiling for contributing to social security.

    • I saw it, but as you know…regardless how high the cost of living adjustment is, the cost of medical coverage seems to eclipse it. Sigh.

    • No. Those who retired before Jan. 7, 2013 will receive a 3% COLA. Those who retired after that date will receive a 1.4% COLA. They are not combined.

  • I would like to see OPERS revisit the cost of living adjustment. First, you broke apart Group A into 2 subsets, which you did not do with Groups B and C. Second, you caused many members in Group Aa to retire before they were planning to do so. Then, you left Group Ab to the US BLS to decide what they would see by why of a cost of living adjustment. Most probably assumed, and correctly, that would be much less than 3%. I never saw this as equal treatment for Group A members. Perhaps everyone should be subjected to more equitable guidelines in the future.

  • Great!!!..another way to thank the retirees that didnt retire before 2013 but still put 30 years in,besides all the other things we were promised when we hired

  • You want to save on health care? I’m am on disability and use my health care a ton of course. I could drop and use my wife’s but PERS won’t let me. Forcing me to use PERS funded health care. If I was to use my wife’s coverage, I alone would save PERS thousands a year. Let people on disability use a spouses coverage if available

    • I’m in the same situation. I would drop opers healthcare in a heartbeat. I can get on my husbands insurance for $ 47 more a month but I have to stay on opers and pay $300 a month because I am offered insurance. Also his pays substantially more than opers health care does and only a $500 deductible. To me someone is getting kickbacks from medical mutual because we are stuck with the worst insurance ever!

      • Thank you for your comment, Ms. Ross. I’d like to correct your information. A retiree is welcome to enroll in a plan outside of OPERS coverage. Retirees can drop health care coverage at any time and re-enroll during Open Enrollment or as the result of a qualifying life event as long as proof of coverage in another health care plan is provided. For more information, go to http://www.opers.org/healthcare/enrollment/index.shtml.

        Julie, OPERS

      • Teresa Ross,

        Check with your husbands HR and ask specifically about the fact you are retired. My company allows my husband on my health insurance because they say it is not the same as being employed full time with insurance. We just had to verify that he was retired. Many companies give the exception to the retirement insurance and allow retire spouse to be on the working spouses insurance. Good Luck.

        Patty Welch

    • I work hard for my retirement and don’t want anything to happen to it so stop crying and live with it enjoy it while you can because you never know what tomorrow brings .

    • I’m not sure when you retired, but you IN FACT can drop OPERS healthcare if your spouse has healthcare and can add you on her plan. I did this in Feb of this year. I cancelled my healthcare (medical) but kept my dental and vision. Call them.

  • Hello: Do you have any idea how much the medical cost each month will increase? I have Plan F and I am sure that will increase, but to what degree I would like to find out in case I have to get something else! Thank you.

    • Ms. Toney,

      More information on 2020 health care coverage options will be in the upcoming retiree newsletter and your Open Enrollment packet, which you should receive in early to mid-October. Open Enrollment runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7.

      Julie, OPERS

  • Disappointed. The federal tax increases, tariffs and the affects the weather and the tariffs have had on farmers; including corn, soybeans, and hay and the increasing costs of feeding livestock all add up to 2020 being an expensive year for the American consumer.

  • Question:
    The statement “Those whose retirement effective date is prior to Jan. 7, 2013, will continue to receive a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment.”
    Is this permanent, or is that scheduled to change in the future?
    I know that OPERS wanted to change the 3% for those retired prior to Jan. 7, 2013, and there was considerable resistance from retirees, but I do not recall the final outcome.

    • Under current law, those who retired before Jan. 7, 2013 receive the 3% COLA. For those who retired on or after Jan. 7, 2013, the COLA is calculated each year.

      Julie, OPERS

  • I am relieved to learn I will continue to receive the 3% cola, since I retired in 2011 with 31 years. But feel horrible for those who lost more than half of theirs , as I know my increase barely covered the increase in the insurance each year. At least the last 3-4 years.

  • oh my god, how am i ever gonna spend the 1.4%………………..?………….i don’t disagree that there needs to be a reduced amount, but it should apply to EVERYONE collecting OPERS funds………….and you may publish my personal information……………..

  • Where are the figures used gathered from. The cost of food alone has gone up at least 3%. I know the OPERS Board know this. Why is it not taken into consideration and lets just say the Board states they reconnize this and will give at least 2% to those after 01/07/2013.

    • Mr. Kelly,

      The Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, or CPI-W, is determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We use the CPI-W to determine the COLA each year for those who retired on or after Jan. 7, 2013.

      Julie, OPERS

  • Suggest a mini series of explaining the projected finances of the retirement fund. Readers Digest always reported at a certain reading level to make sure everyone understands. Financials, investments and legal issues are more difficult for the average person to fully understand.

  • Thank you I am so happy, I retired July 31,2009 with almost 33 yrs and employees made much less than employees that retired 2013 and later. My husband passed a year after I retired. Employees that also worked other jobs and paid into social security can only get about 25% because of windfall law. So appreciate and sorry for other employees getting less.

  • So pls explain rationale: the 1.4% increase based on CPI is computed on our original monthly pension quote NOT on our current pension distribtion? If so, what an insult to treat us who worked 35+ years and waited until a retirement age of 62+ to retire. You started changing so much that folks who bailed out early – prior to 2013- who were “early retirees – less than age 62 and/or less 30 yrs service” have the last laugh on the rest of us whose OPERS deductions were invested while the market made money for the plan. We older adults have subsidized younger retirees. Isn’t supposed to be the other way around!!

  • While 1.4% isn’t a lot, neither is inflation these days which has been under 2% for a number years now. Given the reality of our pension funding challenges I feel quite fortunate that PERS is able to continue providing a COLA for us, which isn’t the case for many pension systems across the country including Ohio STRS.
    To improve the chances that COLAs will continue for everyone I’m hoping PERS is pressing the state legislature to pick back up the Ohio House Bill 413 proposal that would have everyone’s COLA set to the CPI, a not so popular position I know for those retiring prior to 2013. This however would go a long way to preserving our pension fund, future COLAs for all, and in time likely have a positive impact on the health care fund.
    Any update, corrections or thoughts on this from PERS would be most appreciated.

  • what about us that retired in 96 and were penelized for working for the state and two or three other jobs so we would get all our points for SS and then get told we would only get fourty percent of what we were entitled to in SS even tho we had more points than were needed to get the full SS. Now we get less in retirement than we were entitled too

      • Chuck
        I too was affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision passed in 1986. I worked 20 + years under SS and then on to a 28 year career with OPERS, resulting with my designating my primary pension to be OPERS. I retired in 2009.
        Regarding the basis for calculation using CPI-W; isn’t this a current number that with future conditions and/or circumstances may flex upward to greater than the current 1.4% or may even go down?

  • I do appreciate the COLA, but as a post 2013 retiree, we are limited to the 1.4%. I understand that, but because it is based on the our retirement benefit when we retired the actual amount of the increase is only 1.2%, this will never keep pace with inflation. We will continue to lose more and more each year. I feel that if it is based on inflation it should compound the same as social security and other pensions.

    • Compounding would have made it more palatable for those thrown on to the CPI for our cost of living adjustment. There is a wide disparity between 3 and 1.4%! OPERS should strongly consider making the cost of living item more equitable and fair for all Group A members. At the time these decisions were drawn up by the board, I feel they served only to paint OPERS into a box! They should expect a great deal of push back with last weeks announcement.

      • I think OPERS needs to do the right thing and continue on with the Ohio House Bill 413 proposal that would be in everyone’s (including the recent hires) best interest for a long healthy pension.

  • Instead of pitting pre and post 2013 retirees against each other, why not restore the 3% COLA for everyone and increase employee/employer contributions by a small fraction? I survived several of these employee increases over my career, but I cannot survive a cut to my pension.

  • There are people who have been retired for years and never seen a union contract increase, and they retired making $6.00 an hour. Yes they have enjoyed the benefits of a spouse receiving free health care for years. Now they have pay for their own insurance, plus add to the not so affordable health insurance for their spouse. And now you want to take away the 3% cola that is no more than 20.00 a month from them. Some now have to spend their entire check just to pay for health care. Please leave these people alone.

  • As an OPERS retiree, we all were subject to the rules offered at the time, decisions were made…If you were lucky enough to have 30 years, you could stay and add on to your retirement amount or retire and your COLA will always be based on the original amount. We all have had to “pay the price” in our state employment. Either way I choose to be grateful for the COLA, we barely got raises when we were working, all day every day. OPERS is not perfect, but in comparison to some other retirement plans, they rank higher than most. They can’t please everyone but they do try to give us information to help us make our own informed decisions.

  • More than likely this COLA won’t cover the increase in my health insurance payment. I can see my take-home pension actually being reduced even with a COLA increase in the coming years. I realize that this rule was made several years ago, but I hope the people at OPERS realize that it is not sustainable in the long run. It simply isn’t fair to give different COLA’s to different retirees for any reason. Many of us had no choice as to when we could retire and future retirees are also being punished. I understand certain retirees based their retirement date on this rule but that still doesn’t make it fair to the rest of us.

    I know that OPERS has serious financial challenges for paying pensions and healthcare benefits and I appreciate your efforts, but this rule was flawed from the beginning. I hope in the near future you rethink this policy and grant an equal COLA (if any) to all retiree’s instead of this tiered mess that’s going to take place next year.

    • It’s not as messy as you make it,actually it’s quite simple.If you retired by Jan.2013 you get 3% COLA,if you retired after you get based on CPI.

      • Well said. I didn’t have the option to retire pre 2013. Not enough years in work and not old enough. Had to wait until Jan 2019. But I am grateful for what I get. And a small cola is better than no cola the way I see it. If you retired earlier good for you. And the rest of us need to be thankful for what we got. Think of it. It’s not bad!!

  • Although it may seem unfair to have unequal Increases it was published and members notified repeatedly. PERS is not doing anything new or unfair. Rules and laws get changed with grandfathering included. We are all told what to expect when we choose to retire. The lower increase was not a surprise. Are we in elementary school claiming foul or wanting others to give up theirs…since I can’t have it neither should you.
    Our energy should be spent to stop the reduction of our Social Security Benefits because of the “windfall clause”. We lose much much more money from Social Security because we collect PERS than we would ever collect with the COLA. If you don’t know what that is…SURPRISE!! That is truly unfair the way SS calculates your benefits if you collect PERS.

    • Hi Sam,
      My energy is focused on OPERS and COLA. The Social Security Windfall has been there since I started working for the State. However OPERS rules, regulations and policies are always in a state of flux / changing. If we want to assist OPERS and sustain it for future retirees, base everyone’s COLA on the CPI. I don’t mind giving something up if we all sacrifice and give it up. OPERS needs to revisit COLA since their investments aren’t panning out the way they thought they would (which makes me question the quality of their group that invests our money). Yes OPERS, revisit your stance on COLA!

    • I agree with others who also made a long, hard, life-changing decision on when to retire . We made our decision, based on what OPERS advised us,
      both in writing, and by making a trip to COLUMBUS. We spoke directly to their consultant. I was promised a 3% COLA based on OPERS rules. Why do I say “promised”? I say this because they didn’t say “Well you might get this, or we have the right to change this”. They told me what would happen, and I made my decision accordingly. I feel OPERS should honor their words to all of us who retired under those rules at that time. Those of us who made that same decision ALL deserve to be treated equally, which is 3%, not 1.4%.

    • Well said SAM, This is the smartest and most productive statement I have read in this Blog, Pers members are being divisive with each other when in fact the biggest factor in reduced benefits is the federal government windfall elimination clause to your social security.
      If you do not know what this is, educate yourself, when you do you will not be concerned with 3% or 1.4% from pers, You will so realize the federal government has greatly reduced Pers members pension $ on a huge scale simply because you paid into two pension plans being social security and the pers pension plan. What is pers doing to change this unfair penalty to pers member?

  • To the post 2013 retirees who believe they are “providing” for the pre 2013: During my 30 years of service, retirees were not only getting a 3% COLA, but low or no cost health care for themselves and their spouses. I paid into the system all those years but when it became my turn to retire, the game changed. Spouses were dropped and pre-Medicare premiums soared. I had the choice to retire in 2012 or work an extra year or two to gain an additional 2.5%. I chose to retire in 2012 to lock in the 3% COLA.

    That decision was permanent and final. I cannot go back and regain those years. To change the rules at this stage is just wrong.

  • Well, everyone had better read the OPERS August 2019 OPERS Board Report. The Board is reviewing several things — Health care, reduced allowances, etc. The Board also discussed a temporary COLA freeze for two years to help improve funding of the pension plan. Our OPERS Board (who we all voted for) needs to consider basing everyone’s COLA on the CPI. That would help tremendously!
    BTW, OPERS is very selective about which comments they post.

  • The only way I would be comfortable with COLA based on the CPI is if it were compounded. As it stands now, even those receiving 3% are not receiving a true 3%. The actual percentage goes down every year. It will never keep pace with inflation and neither will COLA based on the CPI unless it is compounded.

  • An increase in how much active employees should contribute is long overdue. And necessary. Just as the ceiling on wages subject to social security tax should be abolished to save that program.

  • I guess we all should definitely be writing to our public officials to make certain they are aware of what the OPERS retirees and future retirees are sacrificing, and make certain they are know how unhappy we are about the changes and cuts OPERS has been devising (some are so unjust that I can’t believe we all let it happen!). Basically, in my opinion, I think this is due to the fact that OPERS Board of Trustees (who we vote for) selected an investment group which, apparently, isn’t very good at investing. We work (and worked) hard for fairly low pay, but chose to stay with our State employers/institutions because we trusted them and trusted the Ohio PERS. I suppose the State will need to support us one way or another in the years to come – either via a viable pension or via Medicaid (because we won’t have enough pension to survive).

  • I would rather see a 3% COLA restored to everyone with no freeze, and a cut to health care. OPERS can take away health care at will, but they have to go to the General Assembly to change the COLA. They tried it before and are trying it again, but it is more difficult for them than cutting health care costs. And retirees have recourse – we can enlist the help of our representatives to stop cuts to COLA as we did last time.

    • Donna,
      Yes, I too would rather see a 3% COLA restored and see a cut to health care. We all know that OPERS doesn’t guarantee health care (I’ve heard it and read it many times). Maybe OPERS Board needs to read what their clients are writing. Restore COLA to 3% for all (because we know you’ll cut any type of health care benefits we have). Let us live out our retired lives with just a bit of dignity!

  • I think that if they want to reduce the COLA, then they should be putting a lot of pressure on our legislatures (both state and federal) to do away with the social security windfall. I think if we all got the social security we deserve we would be more open to the changes they say are needed. I too retired early because of the changes in the COLA.

    • GPO and WEP are federal laws implemented by the Social Security Administration. OPERS continues to advocate for the repeal of GPO and WEP.

      • WEP is theft. I did not pay into SS at a reduced rate so I should be able to draw the amount of SS I’m entitled to without. WEP.

  • I worked 49 years. 33 in soc sec, 15 pers. my pers retirement is more than ss. I retired 3 years ago and don’t have any complaints. Because of my years in ss I opted for Medicare.

  • Folks, Opers is a business. They care about profits and their wages. They ceased to care about you the second you retired. 1.4% is better than nothing. Want more? Run for a position on the board and change things. Complaining from the side is like spitting in the wind.

  • I, like many others worked for over 30 years and then retired. And because I retired after the 2013 date I do not get the 3% COLA. However, I worked for about 25 years with the understanding that I was going to get the 3% COLA every year after I retired. Well, you changed that. I see no reason you cannot change the COLA for the other people who have retired before 2013. Either we all get 3% or we all get a COLA based on the CPI. You are not treating us equally and fairly.

  • Everyone needs to remember that the 3% increase is based on the Final average salary the year you retired. That amount is the same amount that your pension increases every year. So after 10 years while you’re increase is 3% of your original retirement sorry it is not 3% of the current check that you receive.

  • I am more concerned with having healthcare as a non-medicare healthcare person. But, I feel we should be locked into whatever was proposed 10 years BEFORE retirement. does changing the game after retirement or within 10 years of retiring is a bit disconcerting.

  • Those who left to lock in the 3% should be able to keep. I had to work longer because my Social Security gets cut about 50% when I took retirement and now I have to except what OPERS COLA will be. With other costs retires can’t win. My household bill’s already have increased more than the COLA they give out. I worked hard for over 43 years and put in the required taxes and retirement for both private and public jobs and now someone else tells me what I can live on.

  • Really I imagine that someone in the cronyism system is not taking a hit but rather benefits from the cuts. We retirees have few options rather than to bite the bullet. Life is not ever fair and we all have to live with the consequences of that. I was fortunate to have VA for health care (all though military service cost me a family) and miss the healthcare I was promised when I retired. As we’re all aware even 3 percent does NOT come near the damage endless money printing by the Federal Reserve has done to our wealth. I have been blessed enough to be able to work part time and maintain a decent lifestyle. I am extremely grateful I don’t have to live on social security or worse yet a military pension (horrible compared to OPERS). I do resent that I can not touch my social security that I worked all those years a 2nd job and military reserve and National Guard. If you’re upset about healthcare cost and benefits better think long and hard about who you vote(d) for. Try to enjoy the days you have been given and hope for the best.

  • They keep giving us less in COLA and our expenses keep going up. I don’t see why all retires
    can’t get 3% COLA. Not everyone has tons of money saved for expenses. We have had a lot
    of medical expenses since 2007 that took all our savings and 401k and Def. Comp. Back then we had a high deductible of 5400.00. It was either use what we had saved or file for bankruptcy. I retired in 2016 due to my husbands health. 3% is not a lot but it sure would help. Is 1/4% worth the paperwork?

  • After reading through the comments, i am amazed on how selfish some of us are. Personally, i think OPERS have been doing a good job for us. What if some of us get 3% and some get a little less than 3% . The sky will not fall down. What is the big deal? Life will sure continue. Why complain so much about a few dollars. Let us be thankful that we are getting an increase regardless of how small it may be.Let us be grateful that the checks will come each month for us to pay our bills.Let us pray that the Lord will continue to help OPERS to invest wisely.

    • Hello Wes – You are correct that life will go on, you have a good outlook on things that we all need. I will be thankful for OPERS when I retire if that date ever comes. I will not get the 3% COLA so I will get a part time job that I enjoy to make up the difference. The extended service time is what really got me, I would have loved to retire after 30 years of service………….

    • Wes, With all due respect, a 3% COLA every year versus a COLA based on CPI is more than a “few dollars”. I do not consider it selfish for some of us to say we want to be treated equal and truly need a 3% COLA. Cheryl

  • This is very disappointing – I did retire early, before I was ready, to get any health care coverage at all. This issue should be re-visited.
    I’d like to see the numbers around making that 1.5% increase.

  • The private sector continues to think that we public service employees are living in the lap of luxury, We know better. And as time goes on, the 2 sectors are more alike than ever. I retired in 2010 and am happy to be getting the 3 % COLA, but think it’s truly unfair that the rules were changed to lower the percentage for everyone who retires after 2013! It seems like arbitrary punishment! I’ve noticed a trend toward taking benefits away from newer hires, maybe hoping they won’t miss what they never had?

  • I agree why the double standard all pension should get the same. So all my co-workers who retired before me. I retired in 2014 they all get 3% and I get 1.4% That is VERY VERY UNFAIR.

  • I too worked 30 years and gave up the 2.5% extra to lock in the 3% cola. And now they changed the rules? And have a 2 tier system this is very bad. Totally unfair. Everyone should get 1.4% Or split the difference with those who retired before 2013 to those after. I am also pretty sure more people were retired before 2013 than after. Everyone should get 2%. This is absolutely a terrible precedent.

  • 1.4 percent is a slap in the face to all of us who worked and payed into opers. Why don’t you raise what the working people pay in like you did to us over the 30 years I worked. The yuppies running pers have forgotten about all of us who paid in to retirement and are now collecting. And don’t get me started about the health care. To bad they have forgotten about us

  • When I retired in 2003 We were told one thing we never would have to worry about is Health Care! Luckily my wife turns 65 soon, this cost and coverage almost caused us to go back to work. Fill sorry for the young folks getting close.

  • For those who have commented about “fairness.” OPERS is NOT discussing a REDUCTION in any Ohio retiree’s pension. I made an informed decision about my NET annual income based on years of service and the paid annual salary. OPERS over the years has sustained pension funding for retirees. I have benefitted from OPERS decisions over DECADES. I have made what I consider prudent decisions since retirement. For those who choose to criticize OPERS; research Illinois, New York, New Jersey and other states whose state employee pension programs are now and have been in financial jeopardy since 2008.

  • My husband worked for over 30 years under SS, retired then passed away before he was old enough to file for SS. I worked for over 32 years under OPERS and when I retired after 2013 and went to SS to put in a claim as surviving spouse I was told I get nothing but Medicare. Oh and &155 for burial. That isn’t fair, who is getting what he paid in for all those years. It isn’t me or his family.

  • I am grateful to OPERS. I believe that they are doing a wonderful job of trying to please all of us. When I retired in 2006, I did not realize that I would receive a COLA each year so this has been wonderful news to me each year to receive a COLA. I also receive SS and put in 20 years and was told that I would only receive a certain amount of money because I would receive a “State of Ohio” pension and could not collect 20 years worth of funds. At least I do receive some funds and last year when SS only gave a 1% increase – Medicare went up and the increase went directly into my account—–!!! I retired to Arizona and I want all to know that the State of AZ employees DO NOT RECEIVE a yearly COLA. So, I am happy that I retired from the State of Ohio. Again- give “OPERS” credit for trying to help us in our retirement days and be grateful as I am for what I receive each month. THANKS OPERS – you are doing a great job!

  • I just read all of your replies for the first time, and agree wholeheartedly with Sam D (on Aug. 26th) that this COLA stuff isn’t worth your time and energy to discuss – it is what it is, and none of us should expect much from the State of Ohio OR the federal government. I’m also an ‘unfortunate’ worker for 20 years in PERS and 21 years in Soc. Sec., so my pittance from the so-called Windfall Elimination Provision doesn’t go very far – I had to sell my house and downsize to a small condo. Once the legislation has been passed, it’s hard to get a reversal … where is the money going to come from? I know the situation is unfair, but after I bemoan my plight, it won’t add a single day to my life. Thank God I was healthy enough to work full-time for 41 years. Do I hear an “amen”?

    • Hi Jay,
      You get an Amen from me! I wish that I would be able to work for 41 years. However, a few years back, I thought I would be set in just an average way with my retirement. Did everything OPERS suggested: Work a long time, put money into the Additional Annuity Plan for extra savings (because I was told that I would also receive 3% COLA on those funds) , and I would have health care and 3% COLA upon retirement. Unfortunately, none of these promises will come true. Yes, once they pass something, we will never get it back in our lifetimes. When the State Government and OPERS are no longer just and fair, it is beyond shameful.

  • I am a retired state employee. I put in 29+ years. I retired too soon to get the health care, so I had to go to the private health care provider. I am also divorced, so my ex wife gets a large portion of my retirement benefits. So I rely on the 3% COLA to survive between payments. So now you are going to lower that? I’m already having trouble making ends meet. I definitely would vote against that!

  • I retired in 2000 from working 30 years thru OPERS and worked a lot outside jobs for SS …and when I retired I was penalized for working the years with SS …I’m a single person living from paycheck to paycheck…I have been punished for trying to work and making ends meet for me and my daughter when she was younger and can’t collect on my ex husband SS either! Frustrated with the system

  • Whatever the original 3% amount was is the amount of the increase each year. The longer you are retired, the lower the percentage is every year. You can’t really compare one percentage to another after your first year of retirement; it drops as your pension increases.

  • I read a good portion of all your replies. Just recently retired after 32 years on the job. Have any of you considered moving out of this country? I’m moving overseas to a tropical location. No more winters for me. The cost of living is not an issue outside of this country. Most can get health care cheaper.

  • I retired in 2017 and figured that in the future (now), the CPI-W index OPERS was going to use would be lower than 2.5% sometimes, but I am very disappointed that it’s 1.4% right from the start! All my major expenses (and probably minor) go up more than 1.4% yearly. Between the yearly increases in Health Care costs, Higher Health Care deductibles, auto and home insurance, property taxes, etc.; this isn’t any “real help” unfortunately. More bad news state of Ohio retiree. Although I don’t agree that some are getting 3% and others are only getting 1.4%; it would be worse to change the 3% COLA that was promised, which was what employees used to help determine whether they could retire or not; and then take it away…

  • To those who think we, the people retired as of 2012 or 2013 or earlier: When we started working for the government back in the late 70’s & early 80’s we weren’t making the starting salaries they start out at now!! $8 – $9K a year wasn’t too bad back then, and it took a County worker a long time to reach $20+ K a year. I say we deserve all that we can get for COLA… Just pray they don’t ever take it away!!!

  • I’m just thankful that there are people that look out for my retirement pension and do what is needed to retain at least something for me to live off. I agree 100% with “Prior to 2010”. OPERS has benefited me for 14 years and I choose to be satisfied with their decision because they know much more than I do. Be grateful. Anna

  • I retired approximately 16 years ago. At that time I took a lesser monthly retirement amount so that my husband would be able to collect a monthly amount plus have the health insurance if I died. Since all the changes this is no longer a benefit. Should there not have been an adjustment to the retiree’s monthly benefit????

  • I retired near the end of 2011 age eligible but slightly less than 30. Mostly because my central office moved from 45 minutes away to 1-1/2 hours away (“rush hour” is an oxymoron). What I’ve noticed is that 3% is esten up by the raises in not only the monthly healthcare costs, but in rising medicine co-pays and Medical Mutual’s demanding I tell my doctors how to run their labs.
    Medical Mutual will likely be a thing of the past, as SOME ENTITY (fill in the blank) is now looking forward to shoving everyone into Medicare at 65, and eliminating pension healthcare. Think 3% will help then? Meh.

  • Pension fund assets are at an all time high. So are employee/employer contributions. The fund managers or brokers are getting rich off the investments. And the board continues to cut benefits. Judging from the comments here, they have pitted retirees against each other on who is getting the worse end of the deal on the COLA’s.

  • The cola to retirees after 2014 cut is totally ridiculous, extremely & biased.
    We need to get this fixed ASAP. UNFAIR AND UNJUST everything should be EQUAL PERIOD. None of this 2 tier crap.

    The stock market earns an average 12% per year over time. Why not invest with fidelity? They already handle trillions. Most of the funds have done great in the last 20-30 years. I can’t say that for OPERS investments.

  • Hey folks getting 1.4% grow up! I missed full medical benefits by four months. OPERS changed the requirement in 2009. I was not eligible until April 2010. I started with the state with the knowledge of the benefit package at the time. Then it changed. Now I only get 50% medical dollars and my wife gets nothing. So, all of you who retire a 30 plus years with full medical dollars stop crying. Things change, that’s life!

  • I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend an OPERS Seminar in your area to do so. By attending, you will be better informed. I attended one recently, they do a good job explaining the retirement and health care issues.

  • Why can’t ALL retirees with 30 years of service get the 3%. After all that is what they were promised. How many people today are loyal to anything for 30 years!! Retirees who do not have 30 years but retired at age 65 or order (regardless of years of service) get 2.5%. We all know if there is a freeze for two years, that two years will never end. I realize changes have to be made, but why not start with new employees and let the current retirees get what they are entitled to. A 3% per cent raise and health care goes up 4%… really….how is this getting ahead?

  • I believe ALL retirees should get the same cost of living increase (3%). That is the only fair way to do this. Also, it is my understanding that retirees before the 2013 cut off date also received spousal health insurance reimbursement while those of us who retired now receive 0 amount for spousal health care.

  • People, as a 30+ years employee and a 3% COLA benefactor, I had 25+ years in HR. I understand your frustrations, but whether you know this or not, OPERS is LEGALLY ONLY responsible to provide us a pension plan- PERIOD. Health care benefits are a gift. Health care costs are going up at a much higher rate than inflation. Wouldn’t you prefer to keep those costs down as much as possible than the difference in your 1.4% vs. 3% COLA. My health care costs this year went up $60/month from 2018. If you insist on a 3% COLA, then I guarantee you your health care costs will increase even more. OPERS needs to cut costs somewhere. Hopefully, you were diligent in utilizing Deferred Compensation to help subsidize your monthly pension. My husband and I have been retired 13+ years and we’ve already seen our reduction in health care benefits. In the next couple months, OPERS is going to announce declining Medicare benefits, so people you better wake up and appreciate your health care benefits because they are never gonna be as good as they are NOW, it’s only going to get worse- we know- COUNT ON IT !!!!!!!

  • I would like to offer a different viewpoint about the COLA issue. I am also asking OPERS and the community of members to consider a different path forward regarding the COLA.

    In my opinion, OPERS is making a fundamental error in how they define the cost of living adjustment, (COLA). The invention of the idea of a COLA was closely linked to exactly what it was named, a “cost of living adjustment.” At some time since the early 1980’s the COLA has been perverted into what I refer to as a “QOLA,” a “quality of life adjustment.”

    I believe that the OPERS community should be focused on the “cost of living” for our members. And by this, I mean the cost of simply staying alive. The COLA conversation should be focused on what base amount of our pensions should be COLA protected.

    In my opinion, I think we should provide a COLA for the first $20,000 of all pension incomes. (This is somewhat above federal poverty standards for individual Americans, but I think it is a good starting point for an ethical and actuarial discussion.)

    Beyond that, we should be endeavoring to hold harmless pensions against self-imposed increases in health care costs.

    I do not believe in providing a “QOLA.”

    If someone worked 30 years and has a retirement benefit of $20,000 there 3 % increase is $600. If someone similarly labored for 30 years but worked in an executive management position and retired with a pension benefit of $150,000 their 3% COLA adjustment is $4500. (Yes, OPERS should come clean about the detailed distributions of pension levels instead of just publishing averages.)

    Again, the original intent of the COLA was the “cost of staying alive.” It was tied to the CPI to measure food, shelter, clothing, and health care. It should not be measuring or funding vacations, restaurant visits, and luxury automobiles.

    It seems perfectly equitable if all pensions have a COLA protecting the first $20,000. It also seems perfectly equitable if any additional increases are provided to offset OPERS imposed increases in health care costs no matter the level of pension.

    In my opinion, this would be consistent with the ethos that I saw exercised during my 30+ years of public service. I was fortunate to rise through the ranks by receiving 5 hard earned promotions. When I became a part of the executive management of my state agency, we annually discussed salary and wage increases in relationship to “holding harmless” our employees against increases in health care, parking fees, etc. This seemed completely consistent with the ethos of our mission as public servants.

    I am saddened to think that the cost of living is growing beyond the reach of retirees that I worked with who performed the hard labor functions of janitorial and maintenance services, while OPERS protects the “QOLA” of management retirees.

    I am similarly saddened by some of the comments made here by my former colleagues in public service, that seem to indicate a high degree of selfishness. Like many others, the changes made to the OPERS benefits schedule, forced me into an early retirement from Ohio public service. The dates that these changes fell on us were completely arbitrary. Our response should not be similarly arbitrary. Our response to the current challenges should be based on our highest ethical standards.

    I am asking OPERS, and the community of members, to take a different look at the path forward regarding the COLA. A look that I believe is less selfish, and more in keeping with the values and ethics that I believe defined our collective noble careers in public service.


  • Thank you, “Wes” & “Prior to 2010” and any others who were refreshingly positive. The disparity (3% vs. 1.4%) is very small! The 3%-folks get 3% of a lesser number; the 1.4-percenters, generally, of a higher one. Where is the gratitude for getting either COLA? The federal GPO and the WEP are hugely unfair by comparison, and truly deserve to be repealed! We ought feel blessed to have the OPERS benefits we do, and should commend the Board for their so often thankless efforts to sustain them.

  • My question is how did it go from 3 percent last year to 1.4 percent this year? The economy has not changed to more than half of last year. 1.4 percent won’t even cover the increasing cost of healthcare. I hope opers comes up with other options for healthcare. This is ridiculous

  • Information received from the national projection of healthcare cost.

    Underlying growth in health care costs.
    Projected medical trend for 2020 is expected to be consistent with that for 2019, which ranged from about 5 percent to 8 percent.

  • Retired in December 2016. So, I just done all the math with the plus 1.4% CPI, minus increase in healthcare and the loss of the 49.00 premium reduction which, now places me over 24.00 a month in the hole. I hope and pray OPERS reconsiders the loss of the 49.00 premium reduction or something?

  • This COLA change was talked about several years in advance. Those who wanted to keep the 3% could have planned to retire within that time frame if it was that important to them. Otherwise they would agree to accept the lower amount, knowing that it was done to save the program for all of us in the future. No doubt there will be future changes that the 2014 people will be grandfathered into. My wife worked for a major insurance company and receives no COLA at all, which means her pension gets smaller and smaller each year. All things considered, health program and all, we are pretty darned lucky to be part of OPERS.

  • i have 36 years in public service and want to retire, the OPERS system was a good retirement..not today. I have friends that had retired years ago and healthcare for both him and his wife was covered 100 %. That money stayed in his pocket to enjoy his retirement life.

    Today 35 % of my take money home will go to towards health insurance for me and my spouse, money my friend got to keep. I did my 36 yrs with melted promises and now the Board wants me to carry the water for future retires who are still working so that they may have an enjoyable retirement…while we get beat up on COLA raises…the most money you will make will be the day you retire as the cost of living goes up.

  • People…. Times change and so does the health of the pension fund overall. Do you want a pension at all? Then changes have to be made, because it can’t continue on as it has been.

    Yes it sucks that people who retired after 2013 don’t get the 3%. Hopefully everyone did some financial projections and figured out what you would realistically be able to live on.

    I don’t know about these days, but Ohio’s pension system at one time was one of the best in the nation. So many have to live on Social Security. We are lucky to have anything like a pension at all when so many have to deal with the ups and downs of 401ks. Most of us are FAR better off than the average retiree.

    Count your blessings and arrange your life as best you can to meet your expenses.

    I’m choosing to work longer because I want to end up with a higher pension.

    • Hi W Williams,
      Pretty sure most of us did financial planning. And I am working longer than I planned, but it doesn’t matter. These changes and future changes will affect people like us. And as younger workers steer away from OPERS, we will be even more challenged by future changes. OPERS needs to at least increase their mitigating rate. Anyhow, folks like us will definitely feel OPERS pinch down the road.

    • Sorry, but I will never agree with your reply but thanks for the effort. I stand by my first opinion, which is FAIR IS FAIR! No need to reply. My mind will never change. Have a great day!

    • W Williams – You have the choice to work longer. Many retirees cannot. Certainly most cannot return to their former positions and start the clock again on their years of service.

      • Thanks… I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as “fair” in life. OPERS is trying to strike a compromise in a difficult situation.

        Like everyone else, I don’t like the changes one bit, but I would rather manage what is within my control and focus on what makes me happy.

        Best wishes to all!

    • Hi you are still working, I don’t think you say anything.
      I been retired since November 30 2014, that 3% usual cover cost health insurance increase every year.now less then half.
      So now what ?

      • Hi Ken, well, I had to do what alot of private sector folks do and pick a plan off the Marketplace. I’ve been retired since 2017 and could no longer afford the high premiums. It’s my second year. The first year’s insurance plan was awful; this year’s is much better. The coverage is one I can live with. But you really gotta be thorough in reading through each plan to see what it offers before you select it.

  • I just read today that social Security benefits will receive a 1.6% increase next year, based on the CPI. why is OPERS going with the lower 1.4%?? Why are the 2 numbers different??

    • The OPERS COLA is based on CPI-W from July 1 to June 30. Ex: 2020 COLA is based on the CPI-W for the period of July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019.
      By comparison, the Social Security COLA is a little more complicated. It is equal to the percentage increase in the CPI-W from the average for the third quarter of the current year to the average for the third quarter of the last year in which a COLA became effective. If there is an increase, it must be rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent. If there is no increase, or if the rounded increase is zero, there is no COLA for the year.

      Julie, OPERS

      • So, you didn’t answer my question. You’re telling me that 3 months made that big of a difference in the CPI? I’m not buying it.

          • I want to know why OPERS is using the CPI-W from July18 to June19 instead of the CPI-W reading used by the Social Security Administration to determine their COLA for next year. I was under the impression that those in subset Group A would be granted the same amount as SS recipients. So much misinformation or lack of clarity on this matter when it was first outlined.
            Further, if and when SS uses a CPI-E (elderly) to determine COLA, can we expect OPERS to do likewise?
            (For those not familiar, a CPI-E would more accurately track monthly costs associated with expenses related to those 62yrs+, especially as it pertains to medical.)

          • Karen,

            We’ve stated that we’re using the trailing June-July CPI-W to determine the inflation-based COLA, which allows us time to prepare for the following year’s increases. We use CPI-W, which is the same index used by Social Security, rather than the experimental CPI-E. (“Experimental” is the word the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to describe that index.)

            By the way, the CPI-E is not always “higher” than CPI-W. This year’s inflation-based increases were capped at 3 percent because the trailing CPI-W measured 3.09 percent, while the CPI-E was 2.79 percent over that period.

            –Ohio PERS

          • Thank you OPERS for clarifying this adjustment for Cola. Karen this was clearly explained in the OPERS retirement seminars. Hope you attended.

    • Maybe because there are millions getting Social Security in amounts not even close to what Ohio retirees are getting? Also, don’t forget those lovely people in DC who are looking to take Social Security and Medicare away or at least gut those programs further.

      Wait until your Ohio State representatives want to do the same to Ohio pensions. Wait until they start appearing on TV (never in person) to explain just how sad they are that things turned out this way, but do remember the great people who founded Ohio didn’t have pension plans or insurance, blah, blsh, blah, blah.

      Then watch your elected state representatives announce their retirements and new lobbying jobs.

  • I think Steven Kremer is on to something. Preserve a higher COLA on the first $20,000 of a pension. Then maybe a slightly lower percentage on the next $20,000-$30,000. An even smaller percentage on $30,000+.

    I think this is fair and equitable. It’s a tiered system that doesn’t pit retirees against each other. The lower pensions get a little more, the higher pensions get a little less. After all, the high wage earners can contribute far more to their deferred compensation plan than the low wage earners which would make up the difference when they retire.

    • Donna, I agree that Steve is offering a thoughtful alternative and hope that our elected decision makers who represent us, research this suggestion and follow up with OPERS members. Invite members, like Steve Kremer and others, to the discussion table. We have many smart retirees who have much to contribute towards the overall system.

  • If people were placed in a classification based on date of hire – the pension system should abide by the benefits promised at that time. If benefits cannot be maintained then new hires would get another classification and know their benefits were less than the earlier classification but life decisions would be based on known factors.
    OPERS Changes on benefits contrary to the understanding when retiring is unfair as is changing the rules when people have worked for years expecting what they have been promised but don’t
    get them if they retire after an arbitrary date. This system does pit retirees against each other as all the comments exhibit. Possibly Reduce new hire benefits significantly instead of trying to take away benefits promised to those who accepted employment and have planned their lives based on these representations. Other state pension systems have this type of classification based on date of hire not date of retirement and there is no lack of applicants for positions. Plus it seems more equitable because the system stands by its terms and if money is short then new people can decide if they want employment with reduced retirement benefits.

  • Donna,

    Thanks for your vote of support. I know so many OPERS retirees who receive small pensions. They really, really need their COLA adjustment. This is both true for the folks that were my “blue collar” colleagues at The Ohio State University, and folks that I know from Mercer County where I was raised.

    I am so disappointed that OPERS is not taking direct action to focus resources toward the retirees that are the most vulnerable. This is especially true for the hard working folks that put in 30+ years of public service.

    I believe that my proposed idea is completely equitable and just. A COLA is NOT a QOLA! The perversion of the idea of what a COLA is, is consistent with the lurch our society has taken in favor of greed.

    (Aside: When I was a child, my church taught me that greed was one of the “seven deadly sins.” Now, it has been masked as “self-interest,” and made into a virtue.)

    I wish that I could have explained my idea (above) about the COLA with more eloquence.

    I really do believe that if all OPERS retirees understood what I was proposing, it would receive solid support. I say this because I believe in the hearts of the folks that I served with at Ohio State. I never doubted my colleagues’ commitment to public service. Many of my colleagues turned down lucrative private sector offers to remain in public service. I want to believe that their value of service to others has not been corrupted by greed.

    Again, protect the 3% COLA for all pensions up to $20,000. OPERS retirees should not be left without an increase in the COST OF STAYING ALIVE.


  • If OPERS needs to make cuts after 13 years of record growth in the stock market, then what will happen to OPERS when the stock market has a long over due correction?

  • Let me say this, the amount of money you get while working will go down after you retire. I retired 2010 I probably would of kept working or got sick or be dead. Life changes can throw you a curve ball no matter how much or how little you plan. Be grateful that you’re able to work and those who are retired be grateful that your still living and breathing. We all have to do whatever we can the best we can. Be Grateful!

  • I know this is an old thread but I wanted to comment on things that are happening now at OSU. Due to coronavirus, raises are being “paused” through the end of this year. As I am retiring 6/2022 this will affect my 3 highest earning years/FAS. This is especially true since our raises are now given in September. So, in 2022 I will have the decrease in health benefit funding and make less than I would have –for the rest of my life. While I understand the need to reallocate funds to maintain healthcare, I wonder if anyone has considered asking employees if they are willing to have an additional, very small percent deducted from their pay to help assure the benefits which most of us were counting on when we were first hired? I’m always hearing/reading about what needs to be decreased or cut, but never about a solution to maintain what is already available.

  • Whatever your job is, your hourly wage or salary for that job is higher now than in the past. The hourly wage for the job I had increased for 10 years and then remained the same (except for cost of living increases when we got them) until retirement. So people who are now doing the job that I used to do are making far more than I was when I retired. Their benefit will be based on a far larger amount. That is why it’s fair for older retirees to receive a higher COLA.

  • >