GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Service members are getting a chance to help shape their Overseas Cost of Living Allowance payments. The Department of Defense is asking service members, who are assigned to Germany for at least three months, to participate in a Living Pattern Survey. This survey is managed through the Defense Travel Management Office, and it captures where and how non-housing goods and services are purchased to help determine the amount of COLA a member might receive.


Overseas COLA, a supplemental pay allowance, is designed to offset the overseas prices of non-housing types of goods and services so members are not disadvantaged for being stationed in an OCONUS location with a higher standard of living.


The LPS helps analysts decide where to go locally to collect prices on a standard list of 120 goods and services members purchase, which is the basis of a cost comparison. The DTMO then compares those prices to the average cost of those same items purchased in CONUS. The difference translates to a COLA index. This index is a main component in the calculation of a Service member’s COLA payment. An actual COLA payment depends on a member’s rank, years of service, and number of dependents. COLA is also adjusted to account for fluctuations in currency, so payments could change from pay period to pay period.


The DTMO is striving for more participation than what they saw three years ago, the last time the survey was conducted.


“The more participation we get from the field means a more accurate picture of how members are using the local economy,” said a DTMO representative. “This will help us prescribe a COLA index that is appropriate for that location.”


The electronic survey takes just 20 minutes to complete, and should be completed by the service member or their spouse who has knowledge of household spending patterns. The survey will be active from Sept. 1 to 30, 2021.


To access the survey, members should click on this Living Pattern Survey link:


For more information on the survey, members can contact USAREUR G1 Military Pay section, at DSN 537-1072 or 537-1071. Additional information about COLA, including information on how currency and rank, years of service, and number of dependents impacts COLA payments, is available on the DTMO website. Members can calculate their COLA payment at: