2014 COLA Approved For July Checks

3% For Most Retirees & Survivors

JULY 18, 2014: With the approval of a 3% COLA for state and teacher retirees contained in the FY15 budget signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on July 11, members can be assured of receiving a new COLA payment in their July pension check. The state has maintained the COLA base at $13,000, thus setting the maximum annual COLA at $390. Eligible retirees for the 2014 COLA are those having retired prior to July 1, 2013.

With one glaring exception, all local retirement systems have also approved a 2014 COLA increase and will include the first payment within the July checks. This year, only one community voted to deny their retirees and survivors a COLA – The City of Leominster.

Leominster’s refusal to pay a COLA marks the 5th connective year that the City has not paid any COLA increase whatsoever. Please see the September edition of the Voice, for a detailed analysis of the situation in Leominster.

“The elected members on the Leominster Retirement Board, Paul Doig and John Picone, have done their job each and every year, but are out voted 3-2 by a board that is controlled by Mayor Dean Mazzarella. Despite excellent investment returns and near fully funded status, the Mayor continues to block COLAs,” said an exasperated Association President Frank Valeri. “We can’t sit by and allow Mayor Mazzarella to create a city of second class retirees.”

Members know that the true value of the COLA rests in its cumulative impact. Once issued, COLAs become a permanent part of the pension base and cannot be taken away. For instance, state or teacher retirees have consistently received COLAs since 1998, adding a total of $5,850 to the pension of the average retiree.

Also contained in the September Voice is a rundown of COLA benefits for all 103 local retirement systems.