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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No COLA for FECA Claimants

In FECA Bulletin 09-02, OWCP explained that federal employees receiving federal workers compensation benefits will not be receiving a COLA this year:

The cost of living adjustments granted to a compensation recipient under the FECA are
based on the “Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers” (CPI-W) figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual cost of living increase is calculated by comparing the base month from the prior year to the base month of the current year, with the percentage of increase adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of 1 percent, determining the amount of the CPI increase granted to claimants. 5 U.S.C. §
8146a establishes the base month as December.

December 2007 had a CPI-W level of 205.777 per BLS. The CPI-W level for December 2008 was reported as 204.813 by BLS, which is in fact a decrease of 0.5% from the December 2007 level. As a result of this decline in the CPI-W level, there will not be a cost of living increase for FECA recipients in 2009.

At the same time, SSA gave Social Security recipients a 5.8% increase. While OWCP personnel have their explanation as to why they gave no increase, you can see the disparity between how a politically powerful group (SSA benefit recipients) versus recipients of benefits from a program that does not care about the welfare of recipients are treated.