Federal, military and Social Security retirees will get a January cost-of-living adjustment of 5.4 percent.
The raises are automatic and will go to about 2 million people in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The COLAs are not part of the budget deficit-reduction plan. Checks reflecting the higher amounts will be mailed for delivery in early January. Injured or disabled federal workers who are under the Federal Employees Compensation Act system will get a 5.2 percent COLA in the spring of 1991.
Federal, military and Social Security pension benefits, which go to one in every six Americans, are indexed to inflation by law. Raises for retirees are based on the rise in living costs, as measured by the consumer price index, from the current year's third quarter (July, August, September) over the third quarter for the previous year.
The typical federal worker retiring this year gets an annuity of almost $14,000 per year. The typical Social Security benefit for someone retiring this year is about $6,800.
White-collar federal workers also are due a pay raise in January, but it is not linked to inflation. The Bush administration has proposed a 3.5 percent adjustment. The House is pushing for a 4.1 percent increase. The Senate has not recommended a pay raise figure. The final amount will be determined in conference, subject to approval by the president. The typical federal worker in the Washington area is paid just over $37,000 a year.
Workers who think they can retire before the end of the year to get the bigger percentage adjustment on their pensions are out of luck. Congress has prorated the COLAs. A federal worker retiring in January of this year would get eleven-twelfths of the 1991 COLA increase. Someone retiring this month would get two-twelfths of the COLA.
The National Treasury Employees Union and its arch-rival American Federation of Government Employees Union will rally separately at noon today at the White House. The temporary truce is so they can yell at George Bush about furloughs.
Robert Tobias of the treasury union says a repeat of the government shutdown almost two weeks ago would show the president's "utter disregard for middle America" and federal workers who lost pay because of the furloughs.
The AFGE has set up a hot line that gives callers a budget update, and then will send a personalized keep-the government-open telegram to the president. The $3.49 charge is billed to your phone. The number is 1-900-990-9960, extension 12.
Somebody's Making Money
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan paid a surprise visit to Uncle Sam's money factory this week to praise workers for holding down costs while they crank out cash. During the just-ended fiscal year, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced 7 billion currency notes. Most is to replace worn-out bills. Crisp currency is in demand these days because automatic teller machines and vending machines that make change and dispense things such as candy, drinks and Metro Farecards don't like dog-eared bills.