Shutdown, Medicare hike, pay raise, COLA

If your regular September game plan is to recover from your vacation and focus on back-to-school stuff, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says you picked the wr...

If you were looking to September as a time for some on-the-job time to recuperate from your vacation you may have picked the wrong month.

Thanks to frequent and extended time-outs this year (and a backlog of work) Congress will have only nine  working days until the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Congress is still on its August recess until after Labor Day.

Things to be decided during this very-short working month include:

  • Medicare Premiums: Will Part B premiums paid by millions (including many retired federal workers) remain at $104.90 per month, or will one in three people be hit with a nearly $50 per month increase?
  • Shutdown: Despite “never again” pledges from the White House and Congress, politicians of both parties are warning of a 2013-style shutdown. That one cost (not saved) the government an estimated $2 billion. Feds who didn’t work were paid, but many had to wait weeks, putting a strain on their personal budgets.
  • Pay Raise: The President has authorized a 1.3 percent white-collar pay raise in 2016. It will go into effect unless Congress raises (hah!) lowers, or blocks it. Part of the raise (0.3 percent) would go toward locality pay.
  • Retiree COLA: Low oil prices and the mini-stock market crash make it likely there will not be a cost of living adjustment for federal, military and Social Security retirees next year. So what are the odds?
  • Health Premiums:  Health premiums for 2016 will be announced in November. Some will go up, some will remain flat. A few may be lowered. But with a minimum pay raise and zero COLA pending, everybody is going to have to shop around during the upcoming open season.

So what’s going to happen? Let’s go to the experts.

On today’s Your Turn radio show, we’ll be talking with John Hatton from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. NARFE is hoping to head off any Medicare premium hikes, and also derail a plan to reduce future COLAs for retirees.

Katie Maddocks, from the Federal Managers Association, will also join us to talk about the shutdown situation, the 2016 pay raise and allegations that there is an executive “hit list” at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The show is live from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET at Federal News Radio or 1500 AM in the Washington area. If you want to call in during the show our number is 202-465-3080, or you can email questions to me, before the show, at:

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Congress established the Department of the Treasury on Sept. 2, 1789.

Source: On This Day

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