Posted on Wednesday, 13th October 2021 by

Print This Post Print This Post

I reported in mid-September that the 2022 COLA was projected to be close to 6% or more. The Social Security Administration announced a 5.9% COLA increase on October 13th for 2022. CSRS annuitants will receive the full 5.9% this year while FERS annuitants will receive 4.9%, still a hefty increase from last year’s 1.3%. View the table of all COLAs from 1999 to the present to see how it has changed over the years.

COLA Increasing Graph

For the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) or FERS Special benefits, if the increase in the CPI is 2 percent or less, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is equal to the CPI increase. If the CPI increase is more than 2 percent but no more than 3 percent, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is 2 percent. If the CPI increase is more than 3 percent, the adjustment is 1 percent less than the CPI increase. The new amount is rounded down to the next whole dollar.

At first glance this seems like a windfall for retirees until you look around and realize that everything we buy today is going up in price, most of the time faster that the average inflation rate. Are we really better off? I would say yes, many private sector annuities aren’t adjusted annually for inflation. My Uncle Harold warned me when I was about to retire of just how much his annuity’s buying power had shrunk over the past 20 years. Had it not been for their Social Security annual adjustment, they would have been struggling.

Each year, I calculate how much my base annuity has increased since I retired on December 31, 2004. My annuity has increased 45% over the past 17 years! I’m grateful that our retirement is adjusted each year, even though there were three years, 2010, 2011 and 2016, where no increase was provided.

Please forward this email to other interested parties.

Annuity Projection Calculator

Everyone planning their retirement needs to know how much they will have to live on in retirement and how much their annuity and the surviving spouse’s benefit will grow over time. Unlike many private sector retirement plans, our annuities are adjusted annually – most years – with a COLA. The 45-year average COLA, from 1975 to through 2021, was 3.68%! Not bad considering many private-company plans don’t provide annual cost of living increases.

Frank Cullen, a retired FAA manager and friend, developed this Calculator to estimate annual annuity increases over time. He used it when he was retiring to project his annuity and survivor’s benefit for a period of 40 years from the date he retired. Frank updated the Annuity Calculator last year and with a few minor adjustments you can adapt this to FERS as well. If the spreadsheet opens in protected mode click on enable editing. Also, some browsers are now opening the file, if this happens click on the download file button at the top of the form and use the download version, the version that opens in the browser may not let you enter data.

Retirement Report & Assistance

I entered a 2021 annuity of $52,000 as an example on the chart and selected an average 2% growth rate. After 10 years the projected annuity with survivor’s benefits grew to $63,387, $5,282 monthly. The full survivor’s benefit for CSRS would be $38,571 or $3,214 monthly in this example.  A 2% growth rate increased the annual annuity amount by $11,387 over ten years from 2021 through 2031! Not bad. You can run different scenarios on this spreadsheet with or without a survivor’s benefit.

This calculator projects your annual and monthly annuity payment with survivor benefit, without survivor benefit, and the projected survivor annuity. The projections are based on your annuity at the time you retire and a selected growth rate (COLA). All COLAs for the past 45 years, back to 1975, are listed on the spreadsheet with the average 2, 3, 5, 10 – and 42-year COLA factors that you can consider for your personal calculation.

With CSRS a full survivor’s annuity is 55% of the full annuity not 55% of what you were collecting as a couple. A CSRS full survivor’s annuity costs you just under 10% of your monthly payment however the survivor’s annuity is calculated from the full annuity prior to the survivor’s reduction. Therefore, a CSRS surviving spouse can expect to receive about 61% of what the couple was receiving prior to the annuitant’s death. Also, if an annuitant’s spouse dies, the annuitant would notify OPM and their annuity would be restored to the full amount that is listed on the spreadsheet. OPM does not refund any prior survivor annuity deductions when an annuitant’s spouse dies.

For FERS employees the projected annuity without a survivor’s benefit will be the same; just enter your annuity estimate, enter your age, year of retirement, what you consider to be a realistic growth rate, and the spreadsheet will calculate your annuity for the next 40 years! The column reserved for your projected annuity with survivor benefits will be slightly lower since the maximum spousal benefit is 50% for FERS, not the 55% for CSRS. Also, the full FERS annuity will cost the retiree a little more because FERS employees pay 10% of their annuity for a full survivor’s benefit where CSRS pay just under 10%.

To determine what your initial retirement annuity will be, request estimates from Human Resources for several target retirement dates. I requested at least a half dozen estimates two years before I retired. You can also calculate your estimated FERS annuity or CSRS annuity using the formulas we have available on our site.

All you need to do is enter the appropriate values in the four highlighted cells. The spreadsheet will do the rest for you. The spreadsheet is locked except for the 4 highlighted entry cells. This is to ensure that formulas are not inadvertently altered. The form’s password is provided on the spreadsheet so those familiar with Excel can modify the spreadsheet as desired.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools

Request a 27 page Federal Retirement Report™ today.
A one hour session with a Certified Financial Planner is included.

Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp


Print This Post Print This Post

2 Responses to “2022 COLA Announced and Annuity Projection Calculator”

  1. Benjamin J Says:

    I tried to view the list of all COLAs from 1999 to present but just keeps bringing me back to this page.

  2. Dennis Damp Says:

    The link to all COLAs back to 1999 is I rushed to get this out concurrent with the Social Security release and neglected to check this link. Thanks for brining this to my attention.