Retirement benefit Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) are determined by the consumer price indexes calculated and maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the changes in prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households with a base year of 1967. We update this page in early March of each year.
Separate indexes are produced for regional urban areas and the nation as a whole. Indexes are further specified "all urban consumers" (CPI-U), and "urban wage-earners and clerical workers" (CPI-W). The regional CPI-W index below is used to determine annual benefit increases for the Plans 2 and 3, the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters system, the Washington State Patrol system, and a handful of Plan 1 retirees who selected a benefit payment option that provides a Plan 2-style COLA. The national CPI-W index below is used to determine annual benefit increases for the Judicial system and the Volunteer Fire Fighters and Reserve Officers system.
Effective in January 2018, the BLS made geographic revisions to certain consumer price indexes. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton CPI, previously used in calculating the COLA for certain plans, included the counties of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Island, Kitsap, and Thurston. This index has been renamed the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue CPI and no longer contains the latter three counties. The BLS updated the naming convention of the Seattle area CPI on their website last year. The Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) intends to administer the 2019 COLAs consistent with current law based upon the percent change in the index, from the 2017 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton CPI to the 2018 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue CPI. Please direct any questions on the administration of COLAs to DRS.