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Ten Facts about the Living Pattern Survey

Ten Facts about the Living Pattern Survey

Story by PO2 Allen McNair on 02/08/2019

You may not have heard, but a very important time has already begun. Once every three years, the Defense Travel Management Office conducts the Living Pattern Survey (LPS) for Service Members stationed at locations that receive overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). This survey directly impacts the amount of COLA entitlement that each service member receives. If you were stationed in the continental U.S. (CONUS), you may not be familiar with COLA or the LPS. Here are ten important facts to know about the survey.

1.The LPS is the only way Service Members can directly impact the amount of money they receive for COLA.

2.To participate in the survey, the Service Member must have been on station for at least three months. That gives them time to get settled in Hawaii and start to develop their shopping routine.

3.The survey can easily be done online, without a CAC card or login required. Access the survey at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/colaSurvey.cfm?ID=hawaii.

4.The amount of COLA Hawaii Service Members receive can be greatly impacted by where they purchase goods and services. If you shop off base, make sure to state that in the survey.

5.Both sea and shore Sailors’ opinions are calculated in the survey. As long as you are eligible to receive COLA, you are encouraged to participate in the survey.

6.A service member’s spouse is not authorized to take the survey. However, spouses are encouraged to help the service member take the survey so that their input is tallied. This is important because, in some households, the dependent does most of the shopping. The goal of the survey is to get the most accurate information as possible.

7.COLA is adjusted once per year based on a Retail Price Report conducted locally by the Quality of Life branch at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. A team of analysts use data from the Living Pattern Survey to determine which stores to visit and calculate the prices of commonly purchased goods and services.

8.The survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Topics include groceries, clothing, household furnishings, entertainment, communications and transportation.

9.All five branches of the military can participate in the survey, as well as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees and Public Health Service employees.

10.The survey is only conducted every THREE years. Many Service Members may have transferred before they get another opportunity to take the survey.

COLA is paid to Service Members to partially offset high costs when stationed overseas (including Alaska and Hawaii). The entitlement helps to maintain purchasing power so members can purchase nearly the same level of goods and services overseas as in the mainland United States. Maximum participation is vital so that Service Members and their families receive the right amount of money while living in Hawaii.

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