The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for September 2015 through August 2016 benefit payments will be 1.0%. As a result, an eligible retired member with an annual benefit of $18,000 or more will receive a maximum increase of $15 per month beginning with the September 2015 payment. (Eligible members receiving an annual benefit under $18,000 will receive a lesser monthly increase.)

This latest COLA brings the cumulative maximum monthly increase since COLA legislation was enacted in 2001 to $297 (see chart below).

New York’s permanent, automatic COLA is designed to help offset inflation’s adverse effects on the fixed retirement benefits of the state’s public retirees. By law, the COLA is calculated by taking 50% of the March-to-March Consumer Price Index increase (rounded up to the next higher one-tenth of 1%) and multiplying it by the first $18,000 of the retirement benefit. The CPI decreased from March 2014 to March 2015 ( -.07%). However, the cost-of-living adjustment percentage cannot be less than 1.0% nor exceed 3.0%. Therefore since the CPI decreased over the one-year period, the percentage to be used is 1.0%.

To be eligible for a COLA, you must either be:

  • At least age 62 and retired at least five years; or,
  • At least age 55 and retired at least 10 years; or,
  • A retiree receiving a NYSTRS disability benefit for at least five years (regardless of age); or,
  • A surviving spouse of an eligible retiree receiving a lifetime benefit. (By law, the spouse receives an increase equal to one-half the COLA the retiree would have received.)

Retirees who become eligible for the COLA after September will receive their adjustment when first eligible.