Escalation is the annual increase or decrease of a service retirement, disability retirement or death benefit, based on the cost-of-living index. Your benefit can be eligible for either full or partial escalation. If a benefit is eligible for full escalation, it will increase or decrease each April at a rate equal to the increase or decrease in the cost-of-living index or 3 percent, whichever is less. However, a benefit will never decrease below the original amount paid.
If you are 65 or older at retirement, your service retirement benefit will be eligible for full escalation. The full escalation date for a service retirement is the first day of the month following the date you reach age 65. If you retire between ages 62 and 65, your service retirement benefit will be eligible for partial escalation.
In addition, certain Article 14 disability retirement and death benefits are eligible for escalation. For a disability benefit, the full escalation date is the first day of the month following the date you become eligible for that benefit. For death benefit payments, it is the first day of the month following the date your beneficiary becomes eligible for an accidental or ordinary death benefit paid other than in a lump sum.
Once you become eligible for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), your benefit will include whichever adjustment provides the greater increase. You can receive COLAs when you are age 62 or older and retired for five or more years, age 55 or older and retired for 10 or more years, or receiving a disability retirement benefit for five or more years. To learn more about COLA, including how it is calculated, please read the Cost-of-Living Adjustment section.