A COLA is a Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Benefits. Not all employers offer a COLA. Learn more about eligibility and how COLA is calculated on this page.
On Nov. 18, 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted into law the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 (RIRSA). RIRSA suspends a COLA for all State Employees, Teachers, Judges, State Police BHDDH Nurses and Correctional Officers until the plans’ funding level for all groups, calculated in the aggregate, exceeds 80 percent.
For MERS, COLAs are suspended until the funding level of the individual plan exceeds 80 percent—MERS plans are not aggregated.
If you are a retiree of a plan that offers a COLA, you become eligible to receive a COLA when you reach Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA) or three years after you retire, whichever is later. When eligible, you will receive your COLA annually at your retirement anniversary date, plus one month.
Depending on economic factors, for members with a suspended COLA, an interim COLA is calculated and awarded every four years during the suspension period. "4-Year" COLA was last awarded in 2021 and is scheduled to be awarded next in 2025.
The COLA rate for a given year is calculated using 50% of the previous five-year average investment return minus 5.00%, and 50% of inflation as measured by the CPI-U Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, then applied to a portion of your pension benefit determined by RI General Law.