About 28,000 service members will receive the continental U.S. cost-of-living allowance in 2018, down from about 35,150 this year.
ConUS COLA payments to stateside service members will total about $28 million in the coming year, about $13 million less than in 2017, according to a Wednesday news release from the Defense Department.
Two new military housing areas (MHAs) — Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where 50 service members live — have been added to the list of eligible ConUS COLA locations. Sixteen locations, where 7,200 service members reside, have been eliminated. They are:
- California: China Lake, El Centro, Fresno, Riverside, San Luis Obispo and Stockton
- Connecticut: Hartford
- Illinois: Chicago
- Maryland: Ocean City
- Michigan: Grand Rapids, Lansing and Saginaw
- New Jersey: Fort Monmouth/Earle Naval Weapons Station and Northern New Jersey
- New York: West Point
- Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
About 1,100 military members can expect an increase in their payments, while 8,200 will see a decrease. But most — 17,800 — will see no change.
The taxable monthly allowance compensates service members for non-housing expenses — such as transportation, goods and services, federal income taxes, sales taxes and miscellaneous expenses — in areas where these costs exceed the national average by 8 percent or more. A location that is 8 percent above the national average would qualify for a 1 percent COLA index, while an area that is 10 percent more expensive would qualify for a 2 percent index.
The MHAs with the highest indexes are Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Staten Island, New York (7 percent), New York City (6 percent) and San Francisco (5 percent).