Military retirees to get biggest pay increase in nearly 40 years

Increase of nearly 6% slated for Jan. 2022

Driven by inflationary pressures, the Department of Defense on Friday announced a 5.9% increase cost-of-living pay increase for most military retirees and survivors, starting Jan. 1, 2022.

It’s the largest such increase since 1982, the DOD said.

Survivors of members who died on active or inactive duty, or survivors of military retirees who participated in the Survivor Benefit Plan will, in most cases, also see a 5.9 percent increase to their annuities beginning in January, the department said.

The increase will affect thousands of Dayton-area residents. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has a workforce numbering some 32,000 people, with about 90,000 retirees within a 100 mile radius of the base, according to Department of Defense numbers.

It that percentage of increase seems familiar, there’s a reason. Earlier this year, the federal government announced that In 2022, seniors on Social Security are in line for a 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment, their largest in decades.

Survivors who are eligible for the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) will also receive an increase to their SSIA payments that reflects this 5.9 percent adjustment, the DOD said. The maximum amount of SSIA payable will be $346 beginning in January, although some survivors may receive less in SSIA as the Department of Defense continues to implement a phased reduction in the Survivor Benefit Plan, the department said.

These cost of living adjustments are calculated based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the four quarters ending with the third calendar quarter of 2021 (July, August and September 2021), and generally go into effect for all pay received beginning in January 2022, the DOD said.

Retired U.S. Navy officer John Wells, chairman of the Military-Veterans Advocacy organization, said his group has been tracking the issue.

Wells, a retired Navy commander (equivalent to a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force), welcomed the increase, but he also said: “It’s all they can do right now with inflation going up as fast as it’s going up.”

Inflation hurts military retirees, who are on fixed incomes, perhaps more than others, he said. He questioned whether the government can keep pace with it.

“If inflation keeps generating, will they be keeping up with inflation?” he told the Dayton Daily News. “In the past, they have not.”

The complete list of updates to military retired and retainer pay, and survivor annuities, allowances, and premiums can be found at

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