I hope you noticed an increase to your retirement check in January. The 2019 COLA (cost of living adjustment) for military retired pay, Survivor Benefit Plan annuities, Social Security checks, VA disability and survivor benefits is 2.8 percent. MOAA accurately forecast this final outcome in November based on annual trends and factors, such as energy commodities, shelter (housing), and transportation services. You can access this data on the MOAA National website, it changes monthly, at http://www.moaa.org/takeac5on/#COLA-Watch.
The 2.8 percent 2019 COLA is the second largest COLA of the past decade, trailing only the 3.6-percent COLA year of 2011. Some of the biggest factors influencing your COLA include the prices of food, clothing, housing, fuels and transportation fares, and charges for medical services and drugs. Measured price changes on those items over time determine the annual COLA. The calculation is made by comparing the average CPI from July through September of the current year to the average for the same months of the year prior.
It is important to keep in mind the CPI might not reflect your personal experience with price changes, but is rather a measure representing the experience of the average household.