Guess who's going up 1.35 percent?

Tuesday - 5/20/2014, 2:00am EDT

With five months still to go in the inflation-countdown, federal retirees are currently due a January 2015 cost-of-living adjustment of about 1.35 percent.

The size of the 2015 cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will depend on the rise — or fall — in the rate of inflation between now and October.

An annuity increase of 1.35 percent (if that's the final amount) isn't much. But it's better than the 1 percent pay increase the White House, and some in Congress, plan for active-duty civil servants.

A band of pro-fed House Democrats has introduced a bill that would give white-collar feds a 3.3 percent raise next year. But the stumbling block is that it would have to pass the House (where it is probably DOA), Senate and be signed by the President. Best bet? Don't spend the money.

The retiree vs. worker increases each year confuse some people, including many politicians. Many insist on calling the federal pay increase a cost-of-living adjustment. Obviously it is not. It is a political/fiscal decision, which is why feds only recently emerged from a three-year pay raise freeze — while retirees continued to get COLAs based on the rise in inflation.

COLAs are basically iinflation-catchups, based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of the current year (July, August, September) over the CPI number for the third quarter of the previous year. That final figure won't be settled until early October.

Each year when the retiree COLA exceeds the federal pay raise, many working stiffs figure they will retire at the end of the year to get the higher COLA. Doesn't work that way. The COLA is pro-rated (on a monthly basis) based on how long you've been retired. So you can't retire a month or two before the COLA kicks in and qualify for it.

Feds Helping Feds Fund

During the government shutdown last year, thousands of federal workers had trouble paying their bills. Many applied for no-interest emergency loans from FEEA (the Federal Employees Education and Assistance fund). In fact, FEEA had so many requests for financial help it ran out of money.

To the rescue: People like you and long-time corporate sponsors of FEEA including GEICO, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Federal Times, Federal News Radio, LTC Partners, AFGE, NARFE, FMA, FEDS, NCSSMA, NFFE, NTEU and the PMA made individual donations, or in many cases very, very large corporate gifts to FEEA.

The 5K race during Public Employees Recognition Week (click here for photos and a video of the race) raised $45,000 for FEEA. Blue Cross- Blue Shield doubled the first $25,000 in contributions received in May and LTC Partners will match the first $5,000 in Friends of FEEA donations this month. If you'd like to help, click here.

Agriculture Is Everywhere

To most people in the Washington area, the Agriculture Department is two very large buildings downtown. But most of the department's responsibilities and people are well beyond the Beltway. Recently, Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack honored 15 employees as part of the department's 30th Annual Unsung Heroes program. All of the winners — and runner ups — went well beyond the above-and-beyond mark. Their accomplishments included disarming a would-be suicide, pulling people out of a burning truck, life-saving actions during a mud- slide and things not in the usual job description.

Winners are Dianna McKinley from Montana Kendall Sloan of Arkansas; Jennifer Eberlien, Washington State; Tracie Kelley, Texas; Trina George, Mississippi; Cornell Webb, Missouri; Darya Chehrezad, Guadalajara, Mexico; Patricia Bartling, Colorado; Lloyd Billey, North Dakota; Betty Jenkins, Cecil Salazar, Meryl Broussard and Harold Whitlow, Washington, D.C.; Austin Allen, Missouri; and John Oiestad, Montana.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Human baby cries are "nearly identical" in structure to the roars of lions and tigers; The latter, however, are at a lower pitch.

(Source: Discovery Facts)


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