Military retirees to get big COLA increase, troops at the border will not get danger pay

Military retirees, those on retainer or those receiving survivor annuities will see the largest bump in their checks from the Defense Department since 2012.

Those receiving money from the government for their service or their family member’s service will get a 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment for 2019, according to a Nov. 1 memo signed by acting Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Military Personnel Policy Lernes Hebert.

The adjustment tops last year’s increase of 2 percent and the relatively flat COLA increases in 2017 and 2016.

The COLA adjustment is tied to the consumer price index (CPI) from the third quarter of 2018 as compared to last year at the same time. The biggest factors that influence COLA are the prices of food, clothing, housing, fuel, medical services and drugs. However, more than 80,000 items are factored into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI calculation.

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Pay increases will start on Jan 1, 2019.

Annuities for certain military surviving spouses will increase from $255.90 a month to $262.96.

The new special survivor indemnity allowance will increase to $318 a month.

Not all retired service members will see the 2.8 percent increase, however. Those who retired this year will see a prorated COLA increase. Retirees who left the service after Sept. 8, 1980 and retired before 2018 will see the full 2.8 percent. Those who retired in the first quarter of 2018 will get 2.4 percent in COLA, second quarter 1.5 percent, third quarter 0.3 percent and the fourth quarter will receive no increase.

Pay at the Mexico border

Last week President Trump ordered another 5,200 troops to the Mexican border, but those service members shouldn’t expect any extra funds for deployment.

Pentagon Spokesman Col. Rob Manning said troops on the border will not get imminent danger pay.

“Imminent danger pay is paid to members on duty in foreign areas, designated as such because of wartime conditions, civil war, civil insurrection, or terrorism. Members who are deployed in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s border mission are not eligible for imminent danger pay,” Manning said in a Tuesday statement.

Separation pay may be a possibility, though. Service members who are away from their dependents for more than 30 days are able to receive allowance of $250 a month.