Use your online account to do the following:
- Get 1099-R tax statements
- Download proof of income
- Update your contact information
- Review your beneficiaries
- Send us a secure message
- Update your direct deposit information
- Track return to work hours
- Access your DCP or Plan 3 investments
DRS issues pension payments on the last business day of each month. The date you receive your payment will depend on your financial institution. Here are the days payments will be issued this year:
2022 pension payment schedule
|Jan 31||Feb 28||Mar 31||Apr 29|
|May 31||Jun 30||Jul 29||Aug 31|
|Sep 30||Oct 31||Nov 30||Dec 30|
Cost-of-Living Adjustment COLA
A COLA is an adjustment to your monthly benefit after you retire. The type of COLA you are eligible for depends on your retirement system and plan.
2022 COLA percentages
LEOFF Plan 1 COLAs will take effect April 1 and will be reflected in end-of-April benefit payments. COLAs for all other plans will take effect July 1 and will be reflected in end-of-July benefit payments. Most COLAs are based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for the greater Seattle area.
COLAs for LEOFF Plan 1 (effective April 1, 2022)
|April 2, 2021 – March 31, 2022||0.00%|
|January 1, 2021 – April 1, 2021||4.75%|
|April 2, 2020 – December 31, 2020||6.74%|
|Prior to April 2, 2020||4.75%|
COLAs for PERS, SERS and TRS Plans 2 and 3, PSERS Plan 2, and LEOFF Plan 2 (effective July 1, 2022)
|July 2, 2021 – July 1, 2022 ||0.00%|
|Prior to July 2, 2021||3.00%|
COLAs for WSPRS Plans 1 and 2 (effective July 1, 2022)
|July 2, 2021 – July 1, 2022||0.00%|
|Prior to July 2, 2021||3.00%|
COLAs for JRS (effective July 1, 2021)
|Prior to June 30, 2013||3.00%|
Does my retirement plan have a COLA? All retirement plans we administer, with the exception of the Judges Retirement Fund, provide one or more COLAs.
|COLA Type||COLA Applies to|
LEOFF Plans 1 and 2
PERS Plans 2 and 3
SERS Plans 2 and 3
TRS Plans 2 and 3
WSPRS Plans 1 and 2
|Uniform COLA (Removed May 2011)||TRS Plan 1
PERS Plan 1
|Minimum COLA||TRS Plan 1
PERS Plan 1
|Adjusted Minimum Benefit||TRS Plan 1
PERS Plan 1
|Age 65 COLA||TRS Plan 1
PERS Plan 1
|Optional COLA||TRS Plan 1
PERS Plan 1
2. What is the Base COLA?
A Base COLA is applied to your benefit after you have been retired for one full year. The COLA adjusts the benefit based on the change, if any, in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the greater Seattle area. The only exception is the Judicial Retirement System, which bases its COLA on the CPI for U.S. cities. Here are the details:
|All Plan 2|
All Plan 3
WSPRS Plan 1
|LEOFF Plan 1|
|Base COLA Eligibility||You must have been retired for at least one year by July 1. There is no age requirement.||You must have been retired for at least one year by April 1. There is no age requirement.|
|Base COLA is applied||July 1||April 1|
|Base COLA Maximum||The COLA is limited to a maximum benefit adjustment of 3% and includes COLA Banking.||LEOFF Plan 1 Base COLA does not have a maximum and does not include COLA Banking. Based on your retirement date, you may qualify for a first-year COLA adjustment.|
Example of a Base COLA calculation:
$1,500 (monthly benefit) X .78% (July 1, 2011 COLA2) = $11.70 increase to benefit for a new monthly benefit of $1,511.70
Retirees do not apply for this benefit. Find out more about the CPI indexes at the Office of the State Actuary.
3. What was the Uniform COLA for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1?
The Uniform COLA was removed by the Legislature during the 2011 legislative session.
From 1995-2010 eligible PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 retirees received an Annual Increase each July. Though it was referred to as a COLA, the Annual Increase was based on years of service, not changes in the cost of living.
How it worked: to be eligible you must have been retired for at least one year by July 1 and reached age 66 by Dec. 31 of that same year. The Annual Increase was calculated by multiplying the retiree’s years of service by the Uniform COLA Amount provided by the Office of the State Actuary.
- Those who have been retired for 25 years or more and have at least 20 years of service (or they have been retired for 20 years or more and have at least 25 years of service) and their base monthly benefit is less than a new minimum threshold of $1,545 (learn more about Adjusted Minimum Benefit); and
- Those with a base benefit below the current minimum of $44.57 per month per year of service. People in this category generally received lower compensation while working and/or did not have many years of service (learn more (below) about Minimum COLA).
Provisions in law will continue Annual Increases for PERS and TRS Plan 1 retirees who currently receive a benefit that falls below a minimum level. This applies to two groups of retirees:
4. What is the Minimum Benefit and Annual Increase for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1?
The original Minimum Benefit was first introduced in the 1960s to ensure a minimum benefit level for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 retirees. The Annual Increase was added to the Minimum Benefit in 1995 to provide a uniform benefit increase each year without legislative action. Those eligible for these benefits generally received lower compensation while working and/or did not have many years of service. Retirees do not apply for this benefit. The Minimum Benefit and the Annual Increase have no age requirements, other than eligibility for retirement; and you don’t have to be retired for a year. The Minimum Benefit and Annual Increase are independent from any other COLA.
If you qualify at retirement, you will receive the Minimum Benefit and in the years that follow the Annual Increase will be applied to your pension amount. If you qualify after retirement, you won’t receive the Minimum Benefit; instead, the Annual Increase will be added to your current pension amount.
Eligibility at Retirement
Eligibility at retirement is determined by comparing your initial benefit (minus specific adjustments) against the current minimum amount. If your benefit is under the threshold, you receive the Minimum Benefit and the Annual Increases automatically at retirement.
Example: Eligibility At Retirement
Sam is a 60-year-old PERS Plan 1 member, who retired July 1, 2011. Sam has 10 years of service and elected to provide an Option 2 survivor benefit to his wife Sally who is 4 years younger. In calculating Sam’s benefit DRS compared his initial benefit using the 2% formula with the minimum benefit formula. Whichever is greater is the formula that will be used to calculate Sam’s benefit.
Initial Benefit using the 2% Formula:
.02 X 10 (Years of Service) X $1,500 (Average Final Compensation) X .862 (Option 2 factor based on spouse age) = $258.60 (monthly benefit)
Minimum Benefit Formula:
10 (Years of Service) X $44.57 (2011 Minimum Benefit Amount) X .862 (Option 2 factor based on spouse age) = $384.19 (monthly minimum benefit amount)
In this example Sam’s benefit calculation falls under the minimum amount formula therefore, Sam received $384.19 as a monthly benefit in July 2011 and the Annual Increase every year after.
Eligibility After Retirement
Retirees are evaluated annually to determine if their current benefit (minus specific adjustments) has fallen below the current minimum amount. If your benefit falls below the threshold, the Annual Increase will be added to your current pension amount.
Example: Eligibility After Retirement
When Jack retired July 1, 2010 with 10 years of service, and an Average Final Compensation of $2,200, he elected to provide an Option 2 survivor factor to his wife who is 4 years younger. To calculate Jack’s benefit, DRS compared his initial benefit, using the 2% formula with the minimum benefit formula.
2010 Initial Benefit using the 2% Formula:
.02 X 10 (Years of Service) X $2,200 X.862 (Option 2 factor based on spouse age) = $379.28 (monthly benefit)
2010 Minimum Benefit Formula:
10 (Years of Service) X $42.63 (2010 Minimum Benefit Amount) X .862 (Option 2 factor based on spouse age) = $367.47 (monthly minimum benefit amount in 2010)
Since Jack received a higher benefit under the 2% formula, he did not qualify for the Minimum Benefit at his retirement.
But in July 2011, the minimum benefit amount increased to $44.57 per year of service credit and Jack did not receive any other cost-of-living adjustments. So Jack’s current benefit of $379.28 was compared again to the minimum benefit formula, this time using the 2011 minimum benefit amount:
2011 Minimum Benefit Formula:
10 (Years of Service) X $44.57 (2011 Minimum Benefit Amount) X .862 (Option 2 factor based on spouse age) = $384.19 (monthly minimum benefit amount in 2011)
Jack’s initial benefit now falls under his 2011 minimum benefit threshold of $384.19, so the 2011 Annual Increase of $1.94 per year of service credit, is added to his current pension benefit:
New Monthly Benefit
Annual Increase = 10 (Years of Service) X $1.94 (2011 Annual Increase Amount) = $19.40
$19.40 (Annual Increase) + $379.28 (current pension benefit) = Jack’s $398.68 new monthly benefit
5. What is the Adjusted Minimum Benefit for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1?
Legislation passed in 2004 and expanded in 2006 and 2011 establishes a minimum benefit level for qualifying PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 retirees. It is only available to retirees who:
A retiree who qualifies for the adjusted minimum benefit receives an automatic 3% increase each July. Retirees do not apply for this benefit.
- Have at least 25 years of service credit and who have been retired at least 20 years; or who
- Have at least 20 years of service credit and who have been retired at least 25 years.
6. What is the AGE 65 COLA for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1?
The Age 65 COLA legislation was enacted in July of 1989 and was replaced by the Uniform COLA in 1995. PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 members, who lost 40% of the purchasing power possessed at age 65, were eligible. Those previously covered under the Age 65 COLA were given the choice to stay with the Age 65 COLA instead of being converted to the Uniform COLA. Only those retirees who chose this COLA in 1995 are eligible. This COLA is not an option for new retirees.
7. What is the Optional COLA for PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1?
The Optional COLA has been available to PERS Plan 1 and TRS Plan 1 members since 1987. It is optional at the time of retirement. Eligible members can choose to reduce their initial retirement benefit in exchange for an annual cost-of-living adjustment. The Optional COLA has no age requirement and is limited to a maximum of 3% of your monthly benefit. The Consumer Price Index for the greater Seattle (CPI-W) is used to calculate the Optional COLA.
To compare your benefit with and without the Optional COLA, please try the Optional COLA Calculator.
8. What is COLA Banking?
The Optional COLA and Base COLA (except for the LEOFF Plan 1 Base COLA) include a 3% maximum COLA increase for the year, combined with a feature called COLA banking. Here’s how it works. In years where the CPI increase is more than the 3% maximum, the difference is banked for future years. The banked percentage is used in years when the COLA is less than the maximum. For example, let’s say in year one the CPI was 6.48%, and you received a 3% increase and the remaining 3.48% is banked for you. In year two the CPI was negative .27%. So in July of year two you used that banked amount and ended with a positive 3% COLA, and still had a CPI increase in the bank for future years.
9. What is a CPI? Who calculates it?
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is an index of inflation based on the change in prices of goods and services purchased by urban households. Some of our COLAs are based on CPIs.
There is another time when COLA banking is useful. There is a period between your retirement date and when your COLA begins. Using the example from above, let’s say you retired in August of year one. You’re not eligible to receive the COLA in July of year two, so the entire 6.48% was banked. In July of year three, when the CPI was negative .27%, you would receive a full 3% COLA, and still have a CPI increase in the bank for future years.
CPIs are maintained by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re curious about what types of goods and services are included, or how the calculation is performed, learn more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Frequently Asked Questions.
10. Which CPI applies to my COLA?
Separate CPIs are produced for regional urban areas and the nation as a whole. Indexes are further specified “all urban consumers” (CPI-U), and “urban wage-earners and clerical workers” (CPI-W).
The Base COLA, Age 65 COLA and Optional COLA are legislatively mandated to use the regional Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (CPI-W) with only one exception: the Judicial Retirement System is legislatively mandated to use the U.S. Cities (CPI-W).
11. Who should I contact if I still have additional questions?
If you have any questions about COLAs, please contact us for more information.
1 Before July 1, 2001, WSPRS Plan 1 had an annual 2% post-retirement increase.
2 This COLA increase percentage is for a member who retired between Jan. 1, 2010, and July 1, 2010 (or for a LEOFF 1 member who retired between Jan. 1, 2010, and April 1, 2010). This percentage could vary depending on when you retire.
Pension verification letter for proof of income
Are you looking for a pension verification letter for a mortgage, refinance, estate planning or senior housing? If you are collecting a pension, you can get this letter any time through your online account.
Pension verification letter
- Log into your online account.
- Select Benefit Summary from the menu.
- Under Retirement Details, select Download Pension Verification Letter.
- Your personalized letter file will be saved as a PDF where you store downloaded files (usually your Downloads folder).
DCP and Plan 3 customers: Contact the DRS record keeper for access to verification of investment funds. Plan 3 includes two separate retirement incomes. You might need to collect your verification from two separate accounts: your pension account and your investment account.
Retired public safety officers
Tax savings on health insurance premiums
If you retired as a public safety officer from a designated Washington state retirement system, the federal Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) might benefit you. It allows you to exclude up to $3,000 of your qualified health, accident and long-term care insurance premiums from your gross taxable income each year as long as the premiums are also deducted from your retirement benefit.
If you qualify, you might pay less in taxes because your gross taxable income will be lower when you report it to the IRS on your annual tax return.
Do I qualify for this tax saving option?
If you answer yes to all three following questions, you likely qualify. To participate, complete the tax savings form.
1. Are you a retired Washington state public safety officer?
Public safety officer includes agencies for which you served as a:
- Fire fighter or law enforcement officer (including
police, corrections, probation and parole officers as
well as judges and prosecuting officers) involved in.,
crime, juvenile delinquency control, or reduction or
enforcement of criminal laws
- Police or fire department chaplain
- Ambulance crew or rescue squad member
2. Did you retire at the normal retirement age or with a disability?
“Normal retirement age” is the age when you’re entitled to receive a full benefit. If you retired early, you don’t qualify unless you received a disability retirement.
3. Do your health insurance premiums qualify?
Your premiums must meet all the following criteria. Your premiums:
- Cover health, accident or long-term care insurance.
- Cover you, your spouse or your dependents.
- Are automatically deducted from your monthly retirement benefit and sent to your insurance provider.
What if I’m not sure if I qualify?
If you’re not sure if you qualify, or if you have questions, contact the Internal Revenue Service or your tax advisor. Keep in mind that DRS team members are not allowed to offer tax advice.
If you do qualify, every January DRS will send you a letter providing the total amount of your qualified health insurance premiums for the previous calendar year. If you qualify, it’s effective from the time we receive your form. However, we can’t include premiums for months before we receive your form.
If you choose to participate, you monthly federal tax withholding would not change. For more information, contact DRS.
Representing Washington’s public pension system retirees
LEOFF 1 Coalition – Serves retired law enforcement officers and fire fighters
407 West Bay Drive
Olympia, WA 98502
877.553.6631 or 360.570.1035
Contact: Joyce Wilms
Retired Firefighters of Washington (RFFOW) – Serves retired fire fighters
15310 163rd Court SE
Renton, WA 98058-8122
Retired Public Employees Council of Washington (RPEC) – Serves retired state, county, city and local government employees
906 Columbia St SW, Ste 501
Olympia, WA 98501
800.562.6097 or 360.352.8262
Retired Washington State Patrol Employee Association (RWSPEA) – Serves Washington State Patrol retirees
RWSPEA – Secretary/Treasurer
PO Box 127
Greenacres, WA 99016
Washington Education Association (WEA) – Retired – Serves public education retirees
PO Box 9100
Federal Way, WA 98063-9100
800.622.3393 or 253.941.6700
Washington State Retired Deputy Sheriffs and Police Officers Association (WSRDSPOA) – Serves retired deputy sheriffs and police officers
PO Box 1805
Sumner, WA 98390
Washington State School Retirees Association (WSSRA) – Serves TRS, PERS, SERS retirees
4726 Pacific Avenue SE
Lacey, WA 98503
800.544.5219 or 360.413.5496