OPERS announces COLA amount for 2022

All eligible retirees will receive a 3% cost-of-living adjustment

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

July 16, 2021 – Cost-of-living adjustments for OPERS members in 2022 will be 3 percent for all those eligible to receive the annual benefit increase.

The OPERS COLA is based on a retiree’s initial pension benefit. COLAs will be paid next year to those with a retirement effective date of Dec. 1, 2021, or earlier. COLAs are paid on the anniversary of a retiree’s effective date.

While members with a retirement effective date prior to Jan. 7, 2013, automatically receive a 3 percent adjustment, those with a retirement effective date on or after that date have their COLAs based on the Consumer Price Index-W, the government’s inflation index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.

According to state law, the annual COLA for those retirees is to be based on the change in the CPI-W index from the end of June 2020 to the end of June this year, with a maximum adjustment of 3 percent.

OPERS’ inflation-based COLA uses the same index as Social Security. But the time period measured is different, so the adjustments might not always match up.

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

  • How are people getting cola raises when you reduced people’s retirement income from what they were previously projected by putting them in group B. I thought the system did not have enough money and that’s why the whole retirement system was changed where is the 3% coming from?

    • Paul,

      We announced the formation of Group B in 2012, and its creation was never predicated on eliminating the COLA.

      • Thank you Michael. Let me ask the question in a different way and from my perspective. I had 11 years in PERS in 2012 when you restructured the system and I was put in group B What made you restructure the system?
        I started working under PERS in 1984 and left in 1995 but left my money there. I came back in 2010. PERS put in Group B yet I started in the system in 1984. Thank you

        • Paul,

          There were a number of factors. Chief among them was the unforeseen Great Recession, which in one year reduced our defined benefit portfolio by more than 27 percent. You also should consider demographic changes that would soon be upcoming (more boomers retiring) and longer lifespans, fewer public employees contributing and the impact of benefit enhancements made to the system in the 1990s and early 2000s.

    • Krisrina,

      Every OPERS retiree who is retired as of Dec. 1 of this year will receive a 3 percent COLA in 2022.

      • What if my retirement date is June 2022… would it be more beneficial for me to retire then and not get a cola or retire before December1, 2022

        • Cheryl,

          We couldn’t possibly give you a definitive answer because we don’t know your personal circumstances. All we can say is that if you retire this year, your initial COLA would be granted in 2022 at 3 percent. Working longer generally leads to a higher pension benefit, but to be sure call us or use our Benefit Estimator. Here’s a link to a video that explains how the Benefit Estimator works: https://www.opers.org/videos/#!/eJ3Np9li6wM

  • why not just let those of us with a retirement effective date on or after Jan. 7, 2013, know that we, ALSO, will automatically receive a 3 percent adjustment?

    The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 6.1 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 266.412 (1982-84=100).

    6.1% being greater than 3%, and with the post-date adjustment capped at 3%, we will get the same 3% adjustment, will we not?

    here’s the link: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

    • RJ,

      We said that in the blog. It’s in the subhead, too: “All eligible retirees will receive a 3% cost-of-living adjustment.” “Eligible” in this case means that you’re retired as of Dec. 1 of this year and thus able to receive an adjustment in 2022.

  • Hi Mike,

    Since it didn’t pass legislation, will they try for 0% cola in 2023 and 2024?
    It’s great were getting a cola, but I’d rather they passed this now than later.
    Also with the deficit how long until they start cutting pensions?
    Since the stock market is way up after 2008? Why didn’t opers accounts go up respectively?
    Was it they were just giving money away to spouses for health care and finally realized that wasn’t very prudent. All of a sudden the market collapses and opers is in the red for the next 30 years.

    I thought I had a secure pension when I retired and I retired earlier than I wanted because of the guaranteed 3%. Which turned out to be not guaranteed. I was just too young by 1 year to make it 2013. I got the 3% for 4 years.

    Had I known they were going to cut it, I would of worked 2 more years.

    • ER,

      Retirement effective dates are always on the first of the month. So if you “retire after Dec. 1” of this year, your earliest retirement effective date would be Jan. 1, 2022. With that date being in 2022, your first eligibility for a COLA would be in 2023.

  • Will. I be affected with my health care if I took a postion at apollo carrer center high school I retired n November of 2019

    • Pete,
      Please send your account specific questions through your online account message center or contact our member services center at 1-800-222-7377.
      Thanks MS

  • Ohio has over 800 businesses paying into employer pension fund contributions at a rate of 14% since 2008.. ( That 14% was up from 13.85% in 2007. ) WHY hasn’t their rate of contribution been increased? Most retirees are taking a bit hit in our medical reimbursement accounts (mine is 5% in Jan 2022 ) and present OPERS workers now must work 2 more years to receive their retirement.
    I’ve contacted Sen Portman’s office today on the matter and will contact an attorney also. something is amiss here … and business has benefitted.

    • Linda,
      The COLA is applied on the anniversary of your retirement effective date. The 2021 COLA is 0.5% so the COLA you would receive in 2021 would be 0.5% of your original gross benefit amount. The 2022 COLA will be 3%.
      Thanks MS

      • Steven Spring says:
        Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
        My anniversary date is October. Knowing the current COLA is 3%, I was just checking my new benefit amount and was horrified to calculate it was only 0.5%. After reading your reply to Linda, I concluded I won’t get my 2022 COLA until nearly the end of next year. Is this assumption correct? Thanks!!!
        • Steven,

          COLAs begin on your retirement effective date, not at the beginning of the year, unless that’s your retirement effective date. If that’s in October, then your 2022 COLA will begin in October 2022 and will continue for one year.

  • If the COLA is frozen and not distributed for a specific year, will I still receive the prior COLAs I have received since retirement?

    • Bon,
      .
      The COLA proposal calls for two future years of COLAs to be frozen. It would not affect past adjustments.

  • CNN announced that Social Security recipients will get a cost of living increase of 5.9 in 2022 but rising prices will offset the boost. OPERS recipients increase will be 3% which is nice but with the high cost of living increase, we will be in the negative. OPERS is also making changes to the health care which is another huge hit to our retirement benefits. Is it the OPERS board that is responsible for all these changes?

    • Francie,
      Thank you for your comment. OPERS has communicated that the Cost-of-living adjustments for OPERS members in 2022 will be 3 percent for all those eligible to receive the annual benefit increase. Any changes to the Cost of living adjustment (COLA) require legislative approval. The OPERS Board of Trustees understand how important health care is to retirees while recognizing that pensions are a guaranteed benefit and must be funded first and health care is discretionary. With that being said, prudent planning has positioned OPERS to allow the offering of a meaningful health care component for career employees.
      Thanks, MS

  • How far in advance can you use deferred comp to pay off the remainder of my five year military for retirement. I’m pay monthly payment before taxes and was told I had to wait. With the 5 year, I’m down to 11 months

    • Kenneth,
      Please forward your questions through the online message center so we can review your account and provide account specific answers. If you do not already have an online account, you may register from the upper right-hand corner of OPERS website. Once you have logged in, click on my account tab, select message center from the drop-down menu, then click add new at the bottom of the page to submit your question or contact us by phone at 1-800-222-7377.
      Thanks,
      MS

    • Vince,

      COLAs are granted beginning with the month of your retirement effective date. We can’t tell what that is via the blog. If your last day of work is Dec. 31, it’s likely your retirement effective date would be Jan. 1, 2022, which means a COLA could not be granted in 2022 as that would be your first year of retirement. Please call us at 800-222-7377 for accurate information regarding your retirement effective date if you’re not sure what it is.

  • I called OPERS on Friday, November 12th to ask about the 3% COLA for 2022. If I retire by December 1st, the 3% COLA for me would be $159. I was told that this would be $159 per YEAR. Would it not be $159 per MONTH?

    • Sherry,

      If a 3 percent COLA of $159 was quoted, then the amount the adjustment is based on must be about $5,300. If that’s your monthly pension, then the adjustment would be $159 monthly. If $5,300 is the annual pension benefit, then the $159 adjustment would be an annual amount.

  • I retired December 1, 2020. However, the COLA computed was 0.5%. Per your comment below, I should be getting 3%. Can you please explain why the difference in COLA?

    • AF,

      If you are receiving a 0.5 percent COLA this year, then you must have retired on or after Jan. 7, 2013. Retirees of that date or later have their adjustment tied to inflation, as measured by the CPI-W, capped at a maximum adjustment of 3 percent. OPERS reintroduced this inflation-based COLA in 2012 legislation. Those already retired as of the date mentioned above were grandfathered into the fixed, 3 percent COLA.

      The CPI-based COLA for 2021 was 0.5 percent. The CPI-based COLA for 2022 is 3 percent (the maximum allowable under Ohio law), and thus all retirees, regardless of effective retirement date, will receive a 3 percent COLA in 2022.

  • Michael

    I am trying to figure out my percentage of COLA to be applied for 2022. I retired the end of November, 2014 so I fall into this group:

    Those with a retirement effective date on or after that date have their COLAs based on the Consumer Price Index-W, the government’s inflation index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.

    According to state law, the annual COLA for those retirees is to be based on the change in the CPI-W index from the end of June 2020 to the end of June this year, with a maximum adjustment of 3 percent.

    OPERS’ inflation-based COLA uses the same index as Social Security. But the time period measured is different, so the adjustments might not always match up.

    And can you tell me what do they calculate the percent against; is it your monthly payment amount, or annual amount?

    I also have another question I am part of retirement Group A and my monthly benefit amount is being reduced. I was under the impression Group A would not be affected

    thanks for your help
    Donna

    • Donna,

      The COLA is applied monthly, beginning with month of your retirement effective date. The COLA for all OPERS retirees in 2022 will be 3 percent. For those who will initially receive their adjustment in December 2022, the 3 percent COLA will apply through November 2023. Please call us at 800-222-7377 for questions about your benefit amount.

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