Ohio General Assembly approves pension changes

The Ohio House and Ohio Senate unanimously approved pension legislation yesterday, capping a three-year effort by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to affect significant change in state pension law.

Both the House and Senate approved the measure by unanimous votes, and the measure known as Substitute Senate Bill 343 awaits only the signature of Gov. John Kasich to become law. Kasich is expected to sign the legislation soon, and the new law will go into effect Jan. 7, 2013.

OPERS would like to extend a thank you to the members of the Ohio legislature and our stakeholders, employers, retirees, members and associates for making this day come to fruition.

The voting followed several weeks of testimony, including input by OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher. The major changes we have proposed include raising age-and-service limits for retirement eligibility, tying the cost of living adjustment to the Consumer Price Index, changing the final average salary calculation and extending the time it takes for the benefit multiplier to increase.

The Ohio Retirement Study Council, which oversees the state pension systems, accepted the legislation on Monday. The Senate passed the original pension bill in May.

“The proposed changes are intended to strike a balance between not effecting enough change, which could require more drastic changes at a later date, and making changes that are too severe, which would cause undue hardship on our members,” Carraher said. “In addition, the plan design changes enable OPERS to preserve future funding for discretionary access to health care coverage for our retirees, coverage we believe is an integral part of retirement security.”

Watch for more information about the legislation in the coming weeks from OPERS, including an updated website, a special newsletter and Facebook, Twitter and PERSpective blog posts.

This entry was posted in Pension Reform, Pensions, Senate Bill 343 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

238 Responses to Ohio General Assembly approves pension changes

  1. Tom Severns says:

    You can read the entire bill as passed by the House at http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/BillText129/129_SB_343_PH_N.html

    • David Jones says:

      Is there a version with the revisions deleted instead of displayed with strike-out lines?

    • Debbie B says:

      Can someone tell me what CPI is used when determining possible pay increases for future retirees? Is there a national CPI or just state? And what has the CPI that is used historically been?

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Debbie,

        It will be the U.S. Consumer Price Index. You can find histrical information about the CPI at the website of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        –Ohio PERS

  2. Tom Severns says:

    For those of us who are already retired or who will retire before the effective date of the bill (Jan. 7, 2013) the bill makes it clear that our COLA will continue to be 3% per year for life (or until changed by future legislation). In addition, the COLA for ALL retirees will be 3% per year “Until the last day of December of the fifth full calendar year after the effective date of this amendment.” Since the remainder of 2013 will not be a “full calendar year,” it won’t be until 2019 that members retiring after the bill’s effective may not receive a 3% COLA. If you’re reading the bill this provision is in Sec. 145.323.

    • Mark says:

      Is this correct? Hope so, but it’s not the way I have read it.

    • Jeff says:

      Clarification – If I retire after January 7, 2013 but before 2019 will I receive COLA for my entire retirement or only until the end of 2019?

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Jeff,

        The five-year transition period for the COLA is a fixed time period. The final 3 percent, fixed COLA for those retiring after the effective date will be Dec. 31, 2018. After that the COLA will be tied to the CPI.

        –Ohio PERS

  3. Mike says:

    I know the current 3% COLA is not compounded, but I haven’t seen the specific calculation on the new CPI. Will the CPI be compounded or will the annual CPI rate just be applied the the amount of the pension received the first year after retirement like the current COLA?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mike,

      The annual rate will be applied.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Alice says:

        On paper, the CPI sounds fair but it does not accurately reflect the true inflation rate, especially for retirees. For example, it does not include food or gas prices. Assuming many retirees own their homes, the recent deflation in housing prices would not benefit them and may be one of the reasons the inflation rate show there is no inflation which flies in the face of our experience. I am greatful for what I have, even though I miss the cutoff by several month but I truly wish the government gave us a more accurate measure of inflation. Also, consider the fact that a 3 percent raise based on FAS is not a 3 percent annual raise because, as the annual pension check grows, the percentage increase is less than 3 percent. But, considering the dismal record in state workers salary increases in the last decade, I will be glad to get something.

        • Carolyn says:

          Yes, I find it very ironic that those of us still working in state government and are “stepped out” have had stagnant wages ( and two years of decreased wages) for several years yet retirees are receiving an annual COLA. Not that they should not but something is not right with this picture. Unfortunately, under the current collective bargaining agreement, this situation is not changing for the forseeable future, despite the State’s rainy day fund growing considerably over the last several months.

  4. Diana Markley says:

    What does it mean for our spouses? Regarding health insurance coverage, as well as our health insurance covereage. Please let me know. Thanks so much!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Diana,

      The pension legislation does not address spousal health care. The OPERS Board is considering those changes separately.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Dave says:

        When can we expect the board to decide on spouse health care?

        • Michael Pramik says:

          Dave,

          We can’t give an exact date, but the goal has always been to make final decisions in 2012.

          –Ohio PERS

          • John says:

            I need to know about spouse health coverage well in advance of the January 7th deadline so I can plan accordingly. Hopefully if OPERS delays too long in making the decision they will allow an extension beyond the 7th for the permanent 3% CPI adjustment. It would be unfair to those of us with more than 30 years experience to miss out on permanent 3% CPI and then find out that we will have spouse health care coverage. Surely the board has some inclination of how they plan on dealing with the spouse health care coverage by now? Any delays in making this decision would be unfair to those of us who had our spouses stay home with young children instead of going to work so that we could raise stronger families while counting on having health insurance for both of us when I retire. If this were to happen is appears it would be another anti-family issue.

  5. maryanne says:

    Are there any provisions for those of us who will reach milestones within days or months of its implementation that may affect us having to work 30 versus 32 years to receive an unreduced benefit?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Maryanne,

      The OPERS Board and staff went to great lengths to assure that subgroups of our membership as a whole were not unduly affected by this pending law. To ease the burden of change and allow members time to prepare, OPERS developed a transition plan taking into account those closest to retirement. In some cases, members could be separated from one group and another by days, weeks, months or years.

      –Ohio PERS

  6. Pete Pfefferkorn says:

    I just attended the OPERS Pension and Health care update at the University of Cincinnati. I understand the need for Pension reform and I have no issue on that aspect. I do have an issue with the Medical Reform bill being proposing and the dropping of spouses from coverage for retirees. In my viewpoint OPERs is not giving any options to their constituents. Opers has a large user base so my question is why can’t Opers negotiate a seperate plan for the spouses and offer that to the retirees? Or tell us what it would cost to continue coverage. Insurance companies cannot turn people away for pre-existing conditions but they can make it cost prohibitive. Also Opers does not know what reform is coming in two years. Wouldn’t the prudent thing to do is wait a couple of years for medical reform to kick in, see what is avaiable and then give your constituents some options?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Pete,

      Our research has indicated that creating a fully insured, stand‐alone plan for spouses may be cost prohibitive and would not have the subsidies available on the exchanges resulting from medical reform, to which you refer.

      –Ohio PERS

  7. Steve says:

    I, and I’m sure many of my fellow OPERS members would like OPERS to address the fact that it took the market crash of 2008 for anyone to recognize and/or take action relating to the many factors being cited as the reason for needed changes. Most notably the fact members are living longer into retirement. Kudo’s to whoever finally realized this, albet it be 20-30 years too late.

  8. Sandy says:

    I do not see the anti-spiking provision listed in the Substitute Bill 343 posted on the OPERS website. I thought it was a part of the bill that was approved. However, I see it in the summary document on the OPERS website listing the changes. Shouldn’t it be listed in the bill language if it was approved? Just curious. Thank you.

  9. Janet says:

    I will be 64 next month, and I have 12.33 yrs service credit.
    If I retire by 1/1/13 (2 years early) as I anticipated retiring at 66 (along with my S.S. benefit)
    1. I get a reduced monthly payment – for life
    2. but I save my Health Care benefits(pre Medicare and Medicare) and my 3% COLA

    If I wait and retire at 66,
    1. I get a higher monthly payment – for life
    2. No guaranteed Health Care Benefit
    3. Variable COLA, max of 3%

    I just can’t see a clear advantage either way – am I missing somehting?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Janet,

      There are many factors to consider when deciding when to retire, and we can’t give you advice on a specfic date or time. We can point out, however, that health care coverage is not “guaranteed,” as you have stated it, either if you retire before or after the proposed changes to into effect.

      You might be interested in setting up an appointment with one of our counselors, or talking with Member Services, at 800-222-7377.

      –Ohio PERS

  10. Mary Vierling says:

    I was informed by a state employee that all retirees would forfeit the 3% COLA for 2013. True or false? Reportedly, it would then be reinstated in 2014.

  11. hoping to retire soon says:

    On one part of the OPERS page, the deadline for retirement before the new legislation becomes effective is midnight on January 6, 2013. But other parts of the website say you should apply at least
    sixty days prior to your desired date of retirement (i.e. around the end of October, if one wishes to retire on January 1st). I understand the part about no longer working past December 31st, but does one choice on when to apply have any advantages over the other ? Does the sixty days prior just ensure that the pension checks start arriving in a timely fashion ? Are some payments actually lost If a person waits till the last minute or does a larger first check get sent in that situation, since it will take time for the paperwork to be handled ? I must admit that the luxury or making a decision closer to the effective date is a welcome feature which I did not foresee. Thank you.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Hoping,

      We recommend applying 60 days before your planned retirement date to allow time for processing your application, gathering additional information that might be required, asking your employer to certify your last date of service, and other related tasks. If we don’t have 60 days to do that, you will still receive the same benefit, but you may have to wait a bit longer to receive your first check. However, your first check would include any funds due to you from the time of your effective date.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Jeff says:

        If i retire December 31, 2012, and do not cash in all of my unused(sick)leave until after a later date, does that effect my effective date of being considered off the payroll?

  12. bonnie says:

    I am 62 years old and have 40 years of service. I have received confusing letters that tell me changes will take effect if I do not retire before 2013. Can you be more specific on what those changes are and how they will effect me.

  13. Carol says:

    I am 55 and will have 25 years at the end of Feburary 2013. Can I still retire or do I have to now wait until I have 30+ years?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Carol,

      As a member of Group A, you will be able to retire at a reduced retirement under the new rules at age 55 and with 25 years of service. Your unreduced retirement will require 30 years of service.

      –Ohio PERS

  14. Barbara ulton says:

    I am very concerned about the possibility that my husband will no longer have access to health
    coverge; his recent bout with cancer could make difficult or cost prohibitive to obtain coverage in
    the future; would like to know what provisions are being made to retain some portion of coverage
    .

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Barbara,

      The OPERS Board is considernig allowing spouses to purchase health care coverage at full premiums for a certain period after the coverage is phased out over three years. These decisions have not been finalized but we expect them to be by the end of the year.

      –Ohio PERS

  15. kara says:

    When and why was the 20-year grandfathering removed?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Kara,

      If you’re referring to being eligible for Group B by having 20 years os service credit prior to the bill’s effective date, that was not removed from the bill.

      –Ohio PERS

  16. stan says:

    I’m still a little confused about purchasing military service credit. I am age 46 with just over 17 years service. I can buy 5 years of military credit. I haven’t yet because I don’t have 10’s of 1000’s of dollars to do this.

    If somehow I can manage this, do I have to initiate the purchase before the end of the year? Jan 7? within 6 months after?

    I’m not sure what to do, it looks as though I couldn’t receive health care coverage anyway if I retired early with the extra credit, which would take so much out of my pocket that it may not be worth it. This is so up in the air

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Stan,

      If you are planning to purchase military service under the current cost guidelines, you will need to make a payment for the service within the first six months after Jan. 7, 2013, to lock in the cost. You will then have five years after the 6-month period to complete the purchase under the prior law.

      –Ohio PERS

  17. Tina says:

    I have just reached 25 years of service as of June 22nd of this year. I was a bit confused on how the new bill will effect my retirement date. It appears your age is taken into consideration to determine when you can retire with 30 years of service. I am presently 43 years old, will be 44 in March of next year. Can I still retire with 30 years of service at age 48 with the current policy changes?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Tina,

      Because you have 25 years of service and thus are eligible to retire with five years of the law’s effective date, you are in Group A. That means you still will be able to retire when you reach 30 years of service, under the new policy changes. Group A members are grandfathered under the current policy except for changes to the COLA.

      –Ohio PERS

  18. Mike says:

    I am currently in group A with about 26 years of service. I will not turn 55 until several months after the 5 year transition period following the effective date of pension changes. If I decide to not work 30 years, will my early retirement at age 55 be based on the current statuatory reduction factors of group A, which I am currently in, or will I be subjected to the actuatory calculated reduction factors for group B?

  19. Matt says:

    Access to health care coverage for spouses of retirees or members about to retire is an important issue. I am also wondering if OPERS will provide any access or allowance for healthcare to members who have the required amount of service credit, but are not qualified for health care because some of their service years were purchased service credit.

    For example: A member has 30 years of OPERS service credit as of January 1, 2014, but three of those years were purchased service credit. As I understand the proposed changes, this member could retire at that time; however, the member would not get any access to healthcare until age 60. In order to obtain healthcare at any age, the member would have to work three additional years.

    Thank you for your reply.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Matt,

      The proposed changes to the OPERS health care plan, while not finalized, would limit the types of service credit counting toward health care eligibility to contributing service, service transfers from other Ohio retirement systems, service purchased under USERRA and restored service credit.

      –Ohio PERS

  20. Thomas Michael says:

    I am retiring effective 1/1/2013 with eligibility for health care. However, I intend to enroll in Humana as a spouse since my wife had almost 35 years of service at her retirement. May I assume that I will be able to re-enroll in Humana as a retiree in the event that spousal health care is phased out?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Thomas,

      Please contact Member Services at 800-222-7377 for answers to your health care-related questions.

      –Ohio PERS

  21. Dan says:

    I’m 54 will be 55 on 2-20-13, I have 17 years of service, which group will I be in, Group B? It seems that I missed Group A by 44 days? Does that sound correct?
    When you say reduced, how much is reduced?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Dan,

      It would appear that you are a Group B member. If you’re asking about new reduced benefits for early retirement, those will be set by an acutuary and have not been set yet.

      –Ohio PERS

  22. Chris says:

    Didn’t Richard Cordray,as Ohio Atty.General,Help recover billions in OPERS funds lost in the 2008 crash?
    If so can these recovered funds be put into the healthcare portion of retiree benefits?

  23. Michael says:

    I am 62 with 24 years of service with OPERS. I am told that when I retire my spouse will not have insurance. I am also told that I will fall under the changing COLA raise, and not the 3% on base, and that if I retire before 30 years of service I will have to pay part of my insurance. Is any or part of this true.
    I look forward to your advice and answers!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Michael,

      In answer to your questions: It’s unclear when you’re planning to retire, so it’s impossible to say whether your spouse will have coverage. Spousal coverage is scheduled to end in 2020, although spousal allowances are scheduled to end on Jan. 1, 2017.

      Any member who retires by Jan. 1, 2013, will continue to receive the fixed, 3 percent COLA. And even those members who have more than 30 years of service time will be required to pay for part of their health care coverage.

      We will be providing more details on health care and the new pension law soon. Meanwhile, you might want to review this document, which is currently on our website:

      https://www.opers.org/News/hcpp/2012/Health%20Care%20Change%20Summary.pdf

      –Ohio PERS

  24. Jose Hinojosa says:

    Will have 30 service credits April 1, 2013. My wife is being dropped (supposedly) from my health care.
    Will there be guidance provided sort of like open enrollment info on the open market for spousal health care? As it stands now, the open market for health insurance is too complicated without the help I usually get during open enrollment periods I am so confused about this.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Jose,

      OPERS will provide guidance to its members after the future health plan is finalized, which has not happened yet.

      –Ohio PERS

  25. Greg Warren says:

    I retired with 32 1/2 years of service and my major concern is health care for my spouse. I am curious about the other retirement systems. Is PERS the only one considering eliminating health insurance coverage for spouses? If so, then there must be some other avenue less drastic that this one. I would like to think this is a proposal and our input is being considered, but everything I read and hear leads me to think it is already a “done deal”.

  26. Laura Hageman says:

    I am an existing medical disiability recipient (since 2002). Am I going to lose my pension? Diagnosed with condition which prevented me from performing my duties. City bus operator, diagnosed with Epilepsy. Bottom line, please!

  27. lace says:

    I’m very confused about the grandfather clause,I have 22 years of service at 43 years of age does this effect me will have to add 2 years of service, I was origanily dated for 30?

  28. Margarita says:

    If I purchase exempted service will it apply and be added to my years of service for retirement qualifications?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Margarita,

      Please contact Member Services at 800-222-7377 for answers to your service purchase questions.

      –Ohio PERS

  29. Don Marchlenski says:

    In order to help with decision making about the COLA change is there an average annual CPI based on historical figures that is available? If so could you give a figure or a reference?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Don,

      You can refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website for information on historical CPI data.

      –Ohio PERS

  30. Bruce Miller says:

    I have 29 years of service, so I am in group A. I have read section 145.323 for the COLA, I still have no ideal of the time frame, or how long I will receive the 3% COLA if I retire in Dec of 2013?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Bruce,

      The law allows for a transition period for members who retire within the first five calendar years after the Jan. 7, 2013, effective date of the legislation. Those members will receive the simple, 3 percent COLA during the transition period, until Dec. 31, 2018. After Dec. 31, 2018, their COLA would be tied to the CPI.

      –Ohio PERS

  31. Duane Clemons says:

    How does the change affect the purchace of Military time? Also, I am in Group B, I will be 56 with 30years in PERS and if I have 4 years military time to add to that, can I still retire at 30 with 34credits? And are 31-34 still at 2.5%?

  32. Kathy says:

    If your last day of work is 12/31/12. But your company does not pay you for 2 more weeks, And your company pays out vac/sick 4 weeks later, does that change your retirement date of 1/1/13?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Kathy,

      No, as long as you are not working past Dec. 31.

      –Ohio PERS

      • tischer says:

        You have indicated that as long as the OPERS member does not work past December 31, 2012 that the member will satisfy the requirement for avoiding the new legislation. But on the OPERS website in bold red it states that a member must be off the employer’s payroll by December 31, 2012. If a member is still receiving pay after that date, presumably the member would still be on the payroll. Could you please clarify definitively, so that members can have peace of mind. Thank you. Is it off payroll or stop work?

        • Michael Pramik says:

          tishcer,

          I think your “presumption” might be in error. If you’re talking about a final check or back pay coming after January, that will not affect an effective retirement date of Jan. 1 if the member is off the employer’s payroll by Dec. 31.

          –Ohio PERS

  33. Not old enough says:

    I currently have 19 years and I am 50 years old. I had planned to retire in 6 years at the age of 56 with 25 years of service. Will that still be possible?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Not old enough,

      As a member of Group B, you would be required to have 31 years of service time before being able to retire with an unreduced benefit. You may retire with a reduced benefit at age 55 and with 25 years of service.

      –Ohio PERS

  34. Mike Freeman says:

    I heard that if you make less than $1,000.00 a month, you are no longer eligible as I have been. Is this so? I have only been working for 3 1/2 years.Thanks!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mike,

      The minimum earnable salary was increased to $600 per month, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, for full service credit. A pro-rated amount of credit will be granted for lesser salaries.

      –Ohio PERS

  35. I will be 62 Dec. 10th 2012 I want to retire at the end of Dec. 2012. I have 24.9 years of service. Can I retire and receive my full reduce benefit of 25 years? or do I have to wait for my anniversary date of March 28th 2013? I have been told that I am grandfathered in with the cola of 3% percent in 2012 or 2013 but my biggest concern is would I have to work the additonal (3) months to get the 25 years, although I will be 62 on Dec. 10th 2012 with 24.9 years. Thank you. please reply.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Milton,

      To retire with 25 years of service credit, you have to have the full 25 years of credit before your effective date of retirement. To continue to receive the 3 percent COLA going forward beyond the five-year transition period, you need to retire by Dec. 31.

      –Ohio PERS

  36. mary jo says:

    I never made alot of money. My dream was getting my 30 years with full medical for myself and paying a small amount for my husband. I only have 3 more years and I will reach my 30 years. The money never bother me we survied but it realy upsets me that medical will be so high that I will not be able to afford it for my husband.

  37. Martin Patrick says:

    Hello my name is Marty, I have a couple of Questions, First i went to a seminar at Youngstown state for Opers pension reform. At that seminar I proposed a question that asked why opers can’t send out a letter stating to all public employees first that Health care coverage is not Guaranteed and never will be but if we can get enough employees or have employees vote on raising there portion of what they contribute to there pension that we would free up what the employer pays in and that percentage could prolong insurance for spouses at least in a limited amount of coverage or at least cut the cost to the retired employee so he could afford coverage for his wife. Also since pension reform has passed is it to the employees benefit that a person that has a year to go before he retires take advantage of retiring now and holding on to the 3 Percent cola that it will make up for the short fall in pension for early retirement and help cover cost for future health care cost.

    • chris says:

      Hello,
      Is someone from OPERS going to address these questions?

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Chris,

        There were two questions. One was whether OPERS could tell its members that health care is not guaranteed and seek a “vote” on coverage options. First, overall plan decisions at the retirement system are made by a board of trustees, not by popular vote. Further, we consistently communicate that health care coverage is not guaranteed: See page 53 of our Member Handbook:

        https://www.opers.org/pubs-archive/members/member-handbook.pdf#zoom=80

        The other question sought advice on when to retire. We cannot give that advice. However, we can provide information to members that will help them make that decision for themselves. One-on-one sessions are even available with OPERS staff by calling 800-222-7377.

        –Ohio PERS

  38. John M. says:

    My wife has 21 and 1/2 years of service as of this date and is 57 years old. Is she in Group A or Group B?

  39. Fred Haussman says:

    I will have 18.5 service credits when I end my career as an elected county official. If I purchase 1.5 credits under the additional 35% elected and appointed official service credits, giving me a total of 20 , will those purchased credits be counted toward my total to be eligible for health care ? Thank You

  40. Amy says:

    I’m in lowly Group C: 12 years, age 47. Do I understand that healthcare coverage will only be provided when I hit 60 and have 20 years of service?

  41. Mike says:

    I am currently in group A with about 26 years of service. I will not turn 55 until several months after the 5 year transition period following the effective date of pension changes. If I decide to not work 30 years, will my early retirement at age 55 be based on the current statuatory reduction factors of group A, which I am currently in, or will I be subjected to the actuatory calculated reduction factors for group B?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mike,

      If you are in Group A on Jan. 7, you will be grandfathered into the current pension plan with the exception of the COLA provision.

      –Ohio PERS

  42. Stephen Hager says:

    What are the changes for us that had to take disability since at the time(1997) you could not transfer to a job that would accommodate our disability? I understand that has since been changed & allowances are made to keep people working instead of going on disability.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Stephen,

      The disability program changes are summarized in the Comprehensive Guides available on the OPERS website.

      –Ohio PERS

  43. Jeff K. says:

    Hello Michael,
    I am unsure of what group I will be considered a part of. I am 52 years old and will have 24.41 years of service credit by the end of the year.
    Thank you

  44. Mike says:

    I read in a local paper that after the election more changes will be made to OPERS? Two high ranking elected state officials (House and Senate) both said that more changes will have to take place and hearings will be held after the election and next year.

    What kind of changes will be made? Will it effect current retirees? Has OPERS been notified that further changes are going to be studied? Thank You

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mike,

      We are aware that more changes to the OPERS retirement plan could be coming in the future. We can’t say right now what they might be.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Linda says:

        I am sure someone is aware at least about what areas of change are being contemplated or no one would have made statements like those cited. I think Mike has some very valid questions, especially for those who are considering retiring by December 31st of this year. What areas of change are they talking about? And, who exactly made these statements and when?

        • Michael Pramik says:

          Linda,

          If you’d like, you might check media reports that were published around the time of the House and Senate votes. But there is nothing specific to report at this time.

          –Ohio PERS

          • tom says:

            There might not be something specific, but are these possible changes coming from the general assembly or the pers board.

            Its not right to keep us in the dark, we should be aware before the fact.

    • David says:

      Mike,

      I don’t think anyone can predict what might lie ahead. But I wonder if we may find some hints of what some legislators are thinking in the publications of the Buckeye Institute.

      If you search their website (it may still be on the front page) you’ll find an article titled “Fairness and Flexibility Not Addressed in Pension Reform.” It suggests that the very principle behind OPERS as we know it – a defined benefit plan that guarantees our benefits in our retirement – may be on the chopping block.

      DB pensions were once the standard for both public and private sector employees. Millions of people lived out their years in secure, responsibly funded retirement with these pensions. But in recent decades they’ve fallen out of favor with businesses, in part because they imply long-term commitments to the retirees.

      Businesses would rather pay you and be done with it. They want “labor flexibility,” not long-term commitments to their employees. They prefer defined contribution (DC) systems, where they may help you save toward your retirement, but they don’t give you any guarantee of any benefit.

      They crow about “portability,” meaning that when they’re done with you and lay you off, your pension account goes with you. (Of course, you may have to break open the piggy bank to support yourself until you can find a new job, but that’s not their problem.)

      A DC plan replaces our communitarian approach where everyone’s resources are pooled and professionally managed by a nonprofit organization for the benefit of all, with an “everyone for himself” system in which each worker’s retirement account is individually managed by a (for-profit) financial corporation, such as a brokerage or insurance company. That’s the kind of account you read about in the newspaper financial columns – the ones where they recommend, apparently seriously, that you have a million bucks set aside when you retire.

      In a classic divide-and-conquer move, the Buckeye Institute sets private and public workers against each other, saying it’s unfair that private-sector employees have to deal with this demonstrably inferior DC system while public employees benefit from the superior DB system. Of course their answer is not requiring everyone to have a DB system. Instead, they think Ohio should force its public employees – what remains of them – into a DC system.

      My guess is that that’s going to happen – if not next year, eventually. We can hope that the legislature applies the change to new employees only, and doesn’t force “everyone for himself” retirement onto all of us who’ve contributed to the traditional system for all these years.

      That kind of pension “reform” would be bad news not just for workers, but also for Ohio public sector managers. For many decades our superior pension system has helped attract good, competent workers, even when salaries were stagnant or declining.

      But there are influential people – not just legislators – who believe with an almost religious fervor that everything is always better accomplished by the private sector. They wouldn’t be at all displeased to see the quality of Ohio’s public employees and Ohio’s public services decline. That would give them even more arguments in favor of turning, not just our retirement, but also our work, over to a private company.

      As I’ve said here before, if you’re an Ohio public employee or retiree and you’re not politically active, helping keep and elect the politicians who help us, you’re not acting in your own best self interest.

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Dave,

        We have blogged several times in favor of the defined benefit model, although we believe that choice is important for public workers. The defined benefit model has proven to provide superior retirement security at a lower cost than other models. We know that it is good for Ohio, and we will continue to vigorously support it.

        –Ohio PERS

  45. Karen E. McConnell says:

    I took early retirement at age 60 this year, with 18.25 years of service, since I have not found another job, 2008. I needed an income and health benefits and felt this was my only recourse left to me. How do the proposed changes affect me? Thanks, Karen

  46. Steve says:

    When the stock market tanked in 2008, OPERS began the “reforms” that we are all experiencing today.

    I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the stock market has gone up 90% since then. The knee jerk reaction to slash spousal health coverage seems to be a drastic reaction to a short lived situation.

    Why not start with some smaller, incremental adjustments to spousal health insurance coverage and revisit in a year? The world may be a different place in a year and such drastic reform may not be necessary. Why the mad rush to push this reform through in the next 90 days ?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Steve,

      We don’t adjust our pension plan year-to-year on the basis of how the financial markets performed. Yes, the stock market recovered in 2009 and 2010, but it was flat last year.

      OPERS made these pension changes for many reasons, only one of which was economic conditions.

      Also, we think you’re confusing health care coverage with pension redesign. The changes to the OPERS health care plan will not begin in the next 90 days. They are not part of pension legislation and will begin in 2014.

      –Ohio PERS

  47. Bonita says:

    Do any of these changes affect those on Disability Retirement with less than 15 years service? If so, what/how are we affected? Thanks

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Bonita,

      We will be updating our website soon with details of how the new pension law will affect our members.

      –Ohio PERS

  48. Gail Fischer says:

    I have been on a pers disability for a while. I always was able to get health care from my husband. He is retiring in jan 2013, so I have been planning to sign up for health care from pers. I also have a daughter who is 18 in January and I need to put her on my insurance. Will there be any problems that you for see?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Gail,

      The terms of health care coverage for children are changing. Please read the Comprehensive Guides on the OPERS website for more information.

      –Ohio PERS

  49. Richard says:

    I will be 62 years of age this Saturday and will have 26.66 by December 31, 2012. I know that I’m in Group A and thinking of retireing on December 31, 2012. Would it be advantagious to retire then?Correct me if I’m wrong but the only thing that I will be doing is having a reduced COLA.

  50. Bruce M. Sheldon says:

    If what I read in the flyer when you no longer cover the spouse of the retired that is going to put a REAL crinkle in there budget. Also when you stop returning the Medicare part B cost that to will put a BIG crinkle in there monthly bills. Also is there any company other then express scrips that will get the prescription contract for OPERS?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Bruce,

      Express Scripts is currently under contract with OPERS through Dec. 31, 2013, as the only prescription benefit manager for our health care program.

      –Ohio PERS

  51. Randy says:

    I am 58 years old. I have 16 years of service in The City of Cincinnati Pension and 6 years of service and growing in OPERS. I’m I in group A ? And can I move the 16 years to OPERS when I retire?

  52. kggc says:

    I am in Group A, 15 years service, will be 60 in a month. Can you give me an overview of things I should consider when deciding to retire before or after 1-7-13? Thanks!

  53. tischer says:

    Now that the legislation has passed could you please give a more complete explanation of how the anti-spiking provision works with regard to purchased military time. The calculators you provide fail to provide the appropriate way of dealing with such purchases.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      tischer,

      The calculator uses current actuarial factors, but it is designed to be for the simple illustration of the benefit cap and does not take into account purchased service. We update these factors about every five years, and it’s likely that the current factors will be in place when the bill becomes effective in January.

      When we begin implementing the CBBC, purchased service credit will be included in the member contribution component of the cap. The formula benefit, which of course includes credit for both contributing and purchased service, will then be compared to the CBBC to determine if a cap needs to be applied.

      –Ohio PERS

  54. David says:

    Shame on you. I would like a Public Answer…

    Will you REFUND very expensive Purchased Service of the type that you are now planning to “disavow/render WORTHLESS” in terms of retirement w/ Health Care eligibility…?!

    Just in case this is confusing anyone…”This is horrible. There is absolutely no viable reason to do this, especially when you continue to provide Health Care Coverage to people with far less years of service. If you are going to strip the value of certain types of Purchased Service, then you must be willing to REFUND that Purchased Service to the Members who can now NOT retire @ 30 years due to being under age 60 and therefore NOT eligible for Health Care Coverage because their VERY EXPENSIVE/ACTUARILY NEUTRAL Purchased Service doesn’t actually “COUNT”…! HORRIBLE IDEA!”

    For Example, a member Purchased Service (try $7,000.00 for 4.7 months) for legitimate PERS WORK from long ago (early 1980’s). This was not the “35%” elected official gift, etc., but full-blown SERVICE PURCHASE of 4.7 months of very, very hard work. Cost SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ($7,000.00) to purchase these 4.7 months, simply so the worn-out PERS member could leave slightly earlier with 30 FULL YEARS of SERVICE…and with some form of Health Care eligibility/$$ for his tired, beat up, and 58+ yr. old broken soul!

    Nope. Now that the $7,000.00 (so-called “Exempt”) Service Purchase from 1982 no longer “COUNTS”, he has to go to his pre-Service Purchase retirement date or to Age 60 in order to receive Health Care “Eligibility”…WHAT?! Ridiculous.

    Since you are changing the Rules, retroactively (which i believe is illegal, and certainly immoral) WILL YOU, OR WILL YOU NOT REFUND THIS Service Purchase MONEY TO ME?? How difficult is that to answer? Thank You.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      David,

      First, we would disagree that the purchased service to which you refer is “worthless.” It may not apply to health care eligibility in the future, but it still will apply to your retirement benefit.

      Second, Ohio law does not permit the refund of military purchases upon the request of the member. In order to refund this service purchase, a member would have to refund their entire OPERS account.

      –Ohio PERS

    • Dale says:

      I am in a similar situation. I purchased 5 years of service – for other public service (federal, another state) at a cost of $23,000. I can retire at age 55 with 30 years total service but would not be eligible for OPERS health care until age 60. Is the the OPERS Board aware of these situations?

  55. Matt Struble says:

    If I currently have 18.2 years of service in OPERS and 1.8 years of service in SERS and am currently 36 what group would i fall in?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Matt,

      Members with 20 years of service time at that age would be in Group B. We’d suggest contacting our Member Services department with that question, however, just to make sure you actually have 20 years of service time at age 36: 800-222-7377.

      –Ohio PERS

  56. Dave P says:

    I’m 48, still working full-time and right now i have 24.0 years in with OPERS. Prior to my current job, i worked for a school system and have 1.1 years of service credit in SERS (School Employess Retirement System). My plan has been to transfer that service credit and get a full retirement in Sept of 2017 (30 years between the 2 systems) when i’m 53 years old. Will this still be possible? Am i in Group A?

  57. Tami says:

    I currently have 24.4 yrs of service. I am in GROUP B. I will be 52 when I reach my 30 years- will I still be able to retire with 60% of my 3 highest years? I realize I will not get the 3% COLA
    Thank You in advance!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Tami,

      The new requirements for Group B members will be age 52 with 31 years of service or any age with 32 years of service.

      –Ohio PERS

  58. Karen says:

    I retired at age 60, ten years ago, with 12.5 years of service. I look at charts that start with 20 years of service or examples of current employees. How will the portion of healthcare premium that I will pay be figured? Also, will the reimbursement of Medicare premium end abruptly or be phased out over a period of time?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Karen,

      The allowance will be based on age and service. We will be posting more information on our website soon to explain the age and service allowance.

      –Ohio PERS

  59. Paul says:

    I have 37 years of service and will be 57 later this year, I would like to keep working and I understand that if I do not stop working by the end of the year I will miss out on the 3% COLA. My question is if I retire before the Jan. 1, 2014 will I be under the “old” health care system? So that in 2014 my spouse would be covered and then in 2015, 2016 and 2017 she would conitune to be covered by the Transition period for three years with a reduction in allowance each of the three years and then in the 4th and 5th year she would be covered but I would need to pay the full amount for her? This is what I understand from the video. Thanks, looking forward to your answer!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Paul,

      You are correct, although we should note that in the third year of the spousal allowance, which will be 2017, the allowance will actually be zero. And then in the fourth and fifth years — 2018 and 2019 — spouses will be permitted access but no allowance.

      We will be updating our website soon with more information about this transition plan.

      –Ohio PERS

  60. Joseph says:

    For Group A retiring after 1-7-13, who are rehired into a OPERS covered postion, is there any change or penalties? Is there any reduction to their pension payment because of their re-employment?
    Or is the only change for Group A after 1-7-13 the loss of the guaranteed COLA of 3% after 5 years?

  61. Greg says:

    In regards to the proposed changes to our health care benefits, can you explain why future retirees would receive a significantly smaller benefit than current retirees? It seems to me that since this is a non-guaranteed benefit, it is at the discretion of the OPERS Board. That being said, where is it written that the Board has a right to discriminate against any group of members? The current proposal makes no sense. Why should a retired member with only 10 years of service receive 75% coverage, while a future retiree with 30 years receive only 71%? Obviously, the 30 year member paid significantly more into both the pension and health care funds. The 30 year member also paid in at a higher percentage (currently 10% compared to 8.5%). Although conveniently not mentioned as a reason for all of the OPERS recommendations, the policy of providing health care benefits to 10-20 year employees and their spouses has had a devastating effect on the health care fund. Still, OPERS suggests that these members keep the vast majority of this benefit which is paid for by other members. Why? Why are the Board members always creating classes and picking winners and losers rather than treating everyone the same? Why not link the health care benefit to years of service and/or the amount that each member paid in? I can see 33% for the 10 year member. I can see a higher percentage for a couple of transition years. But 75% is just plain wrong, especially in comparison to what future retirees will receive.

  62. Dave Schumm says:

    Wow! You mean that health care for spouses might be dropped completely? You’ve got to be kidding!

  63. John Ryan says:

    Okay let me see if im reading this new change right, I will have 24.7 years in pers in janurary i am 49 years old.. i work with someone who is 50 years old and started here 9 months after me.Are you telling me i have to watch him retire before me because he is 6 months older than me even thou i have worked here longer?? Who thinks thats fair?

    • kerry says:

      Yep, exactly what’s happening at my place. Number of workers with fewer months and years – in several cases, 5 years less service but 10 years older – get to retire first with full grandfathering. Was supposed to originally be based on years of service, not age – when exactly did that change, anyway?

      • Jason M says:

        Yes why are people being penalized for paying into then system at an earlier age? By starting younger most of us haven’t got enough quaters in socal security and then have are retirement system changed doesn’t seem fair.

  64. Jim L says:

    I understood the message was that the current healthcare was in jepardy if the pension legislation was not passed. All members working and retired where asked to show support for this legislation. Now that the legislation has passed, why continue with eliminating spouse coverage.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Jim,

      OPERS has consistently said that even with pension legislation, there would need to be significant changes to health care coverage to preserve that plan for the long term.

      –Ohio PERS

  65. Don Leclair says:

    i retired in 2007 after 30 years of service,and paying into PERS,,my spouse was dropped from my health care coverage after being retired for 2 years,because she wasnt at the age of 55,,so i had to seek employment for some type of health care coverage for her,,thinking that when she turns 55 years old,,she would be covered once again,,,and now from what i have read,you will be dropping her totally from my health care is this correct? how is someone to be retired fully after paying in all them years,,are you pushing everyone into welfare,,i have paid my debt of 30 years and now your taking all that away from me,,,what are we suppose to do? after all these years i was lead to believe that PERS was the best,and was proud to be part of it,,and now all my future has been shattered,,dont you think that once retired,that the grandfathered system would be in place,,sure i wasnt happy to find out that my wife wasnt covered until she turned 55,,but i understood,,and went on,,now you are saying she will not be covered ever,,that is wrong in so many ways,,,please write me back,,,i hope all this is is just a big misunderstanding

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Don,

      Health care coverage for spouses is changing. Please see the Comprehensive Guides on the OPERS website for more information.

      –Ohio PERS

  66. Bruce Hull says:

    Excuse me if I mis-phrase this, but will the “length of service multiplier” still be in effect? i.e. – the longer I work after 30 years, the more I will receive when I retire.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Bruce,

      That additional multiplier will begin after 35 years now, not after 30.

      –Ohio PERS

    • David Jones says:

      Working longer does get you a higher benefit amount, but the bonus .3% a year doesn’t kick in until the 36th year rather than the 31st.

      Under the old rules, working your 31st year meant forgoing 66% of FAS, which you’d get back in about 20 years due to the 2.5% higher base benefit (includes 3% COLA effect). After the reform, working a 33rd year would take you at least 24 years or more to make up a lost 70.4% FAS, depending upon how the COLA plays out.

  67. Michele says:

    I think I answered my own question, by finding this chart: Transition Groups Handout (see chart on second page)

    Next question. If a member in group B chooses to retire with less than the full thirty-one years of service, when will the actuarial tables be available to inform that member of the amount by which their benefit will be reduced? Is it likely that members will be able to rely on the first tables that are released, or will they have to wait until some later time, closer to the anticipated retirement date, which, by the way, would make planning that much more difficult.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Michelle,

      Thanks for referring to the transition group chart. All members can refer to that chart to see what transition group they are in.

      The actuarial tables that will determine the percentage of pension benefit available to Group B members in the future has not been set yet. Remember, if you are in Group B, you are at least five years away from being eligible to retire, either with a reduced or unreduced benefit. So those charts will be set in the future. (If you were eligible to retire within five years, you would be in Group A.)

      –Ohio PERS

  68. J.K. says:

    Michael,
    Will service credit purchased for military time prior to the pension reform bill be considered any different after the pension reform bill comes into effect?

    Thanks

    • Michael Pramik says:

      JK,

      Not for pension service time, but those members who have purchased service credit for military time will not be able to use that time for health care eligibility if they retire after Dec. 31, 2013.

      –Ohio PERS

  69. DAdams says:

    I currently have 6 years of state service. I will turn 60 on Jan. 11, 2013. Am I in Group A or Group B?

  70. Chris says:

    I have a question about the transition to a COLA tied to the CPI annual change. I understand that if the CPI is over 3% we would be capped at 3%, but what happens if the CPI is negative in any given year? It’s rare, but it does happen. For example, in 2009 the CPI change was -0.4% — would our benefit amount be reduced by 0.4% that year or would the COLA change just be 0% (no change) for that year?

    Thanks!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Chris,

      The way the law is written, if a negative CPI is recorded during the period that affects the following year’s COLA, no COLA will be granted that year to those whose allowance relies on the index.

      –Ohio PERS

  71. G says:

    Trying to understand the change with the COLA – Is the current 3% compounding and will the CPI % compound? I read on the site that it’s not compounding but gave an example that it compounds.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      G,

      The current COLA is not a compound COLA. It’s a simple COLA, meaning all allowances are based on the original benefit. The same will be true of the CPI-linked allowance.

      –Ohio PERS

  72. Sam says:

    Military time does it still count for the 20 yeard health care requirement?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Sam,

      The new pension law will allow the OPERS Board of Trustees to set the number of years and types of service credit that will count toward health care eligibility. Military time still counts, but it won’t after Jan. 1, 2014.

      –Ohio PERS

      • Brian says:

        When you say military time does count right now but not in 2014, does that mean the purchase? If I have purchased mine will it count or will it go under the new policy in 2014 and not count..

        • Michael Pramik says:

          Brian,

          It certainly will count toward your service time. It will no longer count toward health care eligibility if you retire after Jan. 1, 2014.

          –Ohio PERS

  73. June says:

    Do the proposed health care changes regarding credit for purchased military time apply to someone retiring in by Dec 31 of this year?

  74. Ray says:

    Michael-

    In your answer to Sam, you state that military time won’t count for health care after January 1, 2014.
    I don’t have any military, but I have already purchased service credit that is a combination of federal, out-of-state, and exempt. Does that same date apply to those? (If so: YIKES!!!)

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Ray,

      For those OPERS members who retire after 2014, the only types of purchased service credit that will count toward health care eligibility are: contributing service, service transfers from other Ohio retirement systems, service purchased under USERRA, restored service credit and unreported service.

      We have a leaflet explaining the various types of service credit:

      https://www.opers.org/pubs-archive/leaflets/ISL-F.pdf#zoom=80

      –Ohio PERS

  75. Linda says:

    Please clarify for me: I am 62 (will be 63 12/22/12) and had originally planned to work until the end of June 2013. With the new pension reform does this now mean that if I keep with my original plan to work until 6/13 I would lose the 3% COLA after 12/31/18? And if I would decide to go out by 12/31/12 I WOULD get the COLA 3% for life? And it is compounded? Everytime I think that I understand all the changes someone will give a different interpretation of the changes–I am confused. Also, my husband will be 65 in November–can he stay on my health insurance at least until I do retire? thank you for any help that you can provide.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Linda,

      Yes, if you continue to work until June, you will be subject to the new COLA rules. If you retire by the end of the year, you would retain the 3 percent COLA. And it is a simple allowance, not a compound allowance. The 3 percent would always be based on your initial retirement benefit. I’m not sure what you mean by your husband staying on your insurance “until I do retire.” That sounds like an issue you need to address with your employer.

      –Ohio PERS

    • David says:

      Linda,

      I’m sure Michael will correct me if I misspeak (mistype) here, but the fixed 3% COLA you get if you retire before January of 2013 is defined by the pension legislation. The Ohio legislature could revisit the law at any time and change or eliminate that percentage. It is not guaranteed for life.

      You should also consider the possibility that future CPI increases might reach or exceed 3%. They certainly did in the 1970s, and it could happen again. That would mean that CPI-tied retirees would get the same increases as non-CPI-tied retirees, in years with that level of inflation.

      For that matter, though I may have missed it, I don’t see anything that guarantees our pension benefits *themselves* for life. While I think OPERS is very concerned about providing as stable a retirement as possible, and has in this case proposed legislation that protects the pension benefit of those already retired, who knows what might happen in the future?

      Nor is the legislature in any way bound to enact what OPERS proposes. Given the anti-public ideology of many now in the statehouse, I think we’re pretty fortunate that they hewed close to OPERS’s proposals and didn’t make even more drastic changes to pension law.

      Although the OPERS board decides on our health care, our pensions are at the mercy of our lawmakers in Columbus. We should all be checking with the candidates to learn which ones support Ohio’s public workers and their pension system, and then doing what we can to help those candidates in the upcoming election. Anyone who is a PERS member and isn’t active in Ohio politics is not looking after his or her own best interests.

  76. paul says:

    We are now paying 10% of our pay for OPERS. Is it true that it will go up 1% a year to 14% in the next 4 years? So 2012 is 10%, 2013 would be 11%, 2014= 12%, 2015 would be 13% and 2015 would be 14%? Is this right? Thanks!

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Paul,

      That is not the case. Member contributions to OPERS will not increase with the passage of pension legislation.

      –Ohio PERS

  77. Doug, says:

    I am curious on the anti spiking issue. I have 26 years in. What if I get a better job still contributing to PERS that increases my pay, lets say by $20k. Does spiking affect me?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Doug,

      Rather than try to guess at that answer, we’d recommend that you use our benefit cap calculator that’s on the home page of http://www.opers.org. It uses your salary history to see whether the cap would affect you.

      –Ohio PERS

  78. df3061 says:

    I retired back in 2008 and I am considering re-entering the work force as a State of Ohio employee again. If I do this and go back out again several years later and elect to have healthcare at that time what does that do to my Cola and healthcare. Do I revert back to the options that apply currently to me now when I retired in 2008 or do I now fall under the new changes that were just passed?

  79. Phyllis says:

    I have over 30 years service and meet the age requirement. I realize I am in Group A. However I had not planned to retire until 2014. If I understand this correctly, if I don’t go by the end of this year, I will lose my guaranteed 3% COLA at the end of 2018 just because I choose to work longer. Am I understanding that correctly?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Phyllis,

      That is true, but choosing to retire earlier than you intended simply to receive the 3 percent COLA is not an easy decision. In many cases working longer for a larger future defined benefit will outweigh retiring now with a fixed COLA.

      Please use our “COLA Calculators” on the home page of our website to see this effect for yourself:

      http://www.opers.org

      –Ohio PERS

  80. Margaret says:

    When I first started paying into OPERS in Jan 1991 I was part-time till August 1993. I am 51 now and have 21+ yrs of service. Will the new legislation change the value of my part-time or will I be grandfathered for that time worked?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Margaret,

      There is nothing in the legislation that would change the value of service credit already earned.

      –Ohio PERS

  81. Karen Volz says:

    I have 33 years service and I am 56 years of age. If I do not retire until 9/01/2014 do I have anything to lose other than the 3% COLA? Also, am I in Group A or B?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Karen,

      You are a Group A member and are grandfathered under the current rules except for the change in the COLA.

      –Ohio PERS

  82. paul says:

    Currently we pay 10% into OPERS . Is that going to change in the in the next few years?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Paul,

      It can’t be stated with certainty one way or the other. We can say, though, that employee contributions are not changing with the new pension law that will go into effect on Jan. 7.

      –Ohio PERS

  83. Mark says:

    I am 48 and have 22 years in L.E PERS. I also 4 years Regular PERS. I went to purchase my 4 years for my retirement. They wanted $94,000. I also have 4.2 STRS.
    I was told you have to have 24 yrs to be grandfathered in Jan to retire. Is that total PERS or L.E. PERS.
    What does my 4 years do for me if anything in STRS.

    Thanks, Mark

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mark,

      Your STRS time could count toward your total service credit, but it’s unclear from your question whether that will be the case. Please contact OPERS at 800-222-7377 and request a benefit estimate taking into account your three types of service credit with and without the potential service purchase. It might take a couple of weeks, but it’s best for you to receive a formal estimate rather than an answer based on incomplete information.

      –Ohio PERS

  84. mmitti says:

    hello,
    I’m 58 and have 22 years of service. I’ll be buying back 5 years of service from another state before 12/31/2012. What group am I in?

  85. Joan in Cincinnati says:

    I would like more information about why early retirement (less than 30 years, under 60) will not be able to “buy in” to any health care plan. It seems like this population would lower the overall cost the health care package as they will likely be healthier than those over 60 due to age.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Joan,

      These changes were made to preserve the health care program, in the face of rapidly rising costs, for the contributing member.

      –Ohio PERS

  86. Todd G. says:

    I’m 5 days away from my 10 years in OPERS and was just told by a colleague that the 50% health care premium benifit when from 10 years to 20. Is this correct? I’m only 34 but thought I was being responsible to get to this milestone before moving out of state.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Todd,

      Yes, OPERS members who retire on or after Jan. 1, 2014, will be required to have 20 years of service and be 60 years old, or have 30 years of service at any age, to be eligible for OPERS health care coverage.

      –Ohio PERS

  87. Allen says:

    I’m 51 years old and have 23 yrs of service credit. I will not be 55 when I reach my 25 year service credit mark. Once I do reach 55 I will have 27 years of service credit can I then retire at a reduce rate? and what group will I be in? Thanks

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Allen,

      As a member of Group A, you are required to be age 55 with 25 years of service time to retire at a reduced pension. So if you will have 27 years at age 55, then at that point you can retire with a reduced pension.

      –Ohio PERS

  88. tom says:

    I see the Gov. has signed the legislation so the changes are/will be law. So single people or others whose spouses have insurance can plan for retirement. The rest of us can try to find a paddle on our way up the creek.

  89. Interested Retiree says:

    Do you know if the Governor has signed Substitute Senate Bill 343 yet?

  90. Mike C. says:

    I am 55 yrs old and I will have 30.126 years of service credit as of 12/31/12. i purchased .542yrs of regular military time and it is included in that figure. My health care service credit is 29.6yrs. Will I have health care after Jan. 1 ,2014 if I retire 12/31/12? Will it be a percentage of the allowance?

    I’ve talked to many service rep’s and received yes and no answers—which is it?

    Thanks

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Mike,

      Your military service purchase will count toward health care eligibility if you retire before 2014.

      –Ohio PERS

  91. John Kinne says:

    Is there an OPERS publication that describes the effect the legislation has on current retirees?

    Thanks

  92. Mike C. says:

    How come my questions show up for only a day or two, then come under ‘moderator’ review, then are gone from the blog. Their have been no slurs or insulting remarks or other negative comments in any of my questions. Why aren’t posted and answered?

    Thanks

  93. Retiring says:

    I have reached 30 years contributing service in OPERS and I am contemplating retirement by 12/31/2012. Will I maintain the 3% COLA and what will be my health care coverage percentage? Thank you.

    • Retiring says:

      I also would like to know if there would be any short term health care provisons for my wife and when they would be phased out. Thanks in advance for your response.

      • Michael Pramik says:

        Retiring,

        We have posted Comprehensive Guides on our website that can help answer that and many other questions you might have:

        https://www.opers.org/News/ORSC/changes.shtml

        –Ohio PERS

        • kggc says:

          Earlier, you replied to Todd…
          Todd G. says:
          September 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm
          I’m 5 days away from my 10 years in OPERS and was just told by a colleague that the 50% health care premium benifit when from 10 years to 20. Is this correct? I’m only 34 but thought I was being responsible to get to this milestone before moving out of state.

          Reply
          Michael Pramik says:
          October 2, 2012 at 11:34 am
          Todd,

          Yes, OPERS members who retire on or after Jan. 1, 2014, will be required to have 20 years of service and be 60 years old, or have 30 years of service at any age, to be eligible for OPERS health care coverage.

          –Ohio PERS

          You meant to say ‘ELIGIBLE’ to retire after Jan.1, 2014, right? I’m in Group A and am deciding whether to reitre in 2012, 2013 or 2014…

          Thanks

          • Michael Pramik says:

            kggc,

            The answer to your question is “no.” Simply being eligible under the old rules at Dec. 31, 2013, won’t necessarily qualify you for health care coverage whenever you wish. The difference of retiring at the end of 2013 or at the beginning of 2014 can be important for some members.

            If you have 15 years of service credit, for example, you can retire on Dec. 31, 2013, with health care coverage. If you wait until after Jan. 1, 2014 to retire, and you have 15 years of credit, you will not be able to retire with coverage until you have 20 years of service credit and are at least 60, or you have accumulated at least 30 years of service credit at any age.

            –Ohio PERS

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Retiring,

      You would preserve the 3 percent COLA if you retired by the end of the year. We would need your age to say what your allowance would be after 2014, but you can look that up for yourself in our Comprehensive Guide, which is on our website.

      –Ohio PERS

  94. Barb Koch says:

    I am 56 with 17.96 years of service credit, but no longer working for the state. I have studied the transition table, but am a little confused as to whether I am in Group A. The way I read the table, since I can retire at 60, albeit with a reduced benefit, it seems as though I would be in Group A (eligible to retire within 5 years from the date of the legislation), and therefore be grandfathered in benefits. Is that correct? And does that same apply if I wait to retire with a full benefit at 65?

    Thanks

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Barb,

      Any OPERS member who is 55 or older is in Group A, regardless of the amount of service credit, because he or she is eligible to retire within five years after the effective date of the legislation. (The minimum requirement for a reduced benefit is age 60 and five years of service, so any member currently 55 or older would qualify.)

      –Ohio PERS

  95. John S. says:

    Will a current surviving spouse retain the 3% COLA? How will the proposed changes in health care effect a surviving spouse’s access to coverage?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      John,

      A surviving spouse will retain the COLA and will continue to receive health care coverage as per the new eligibility criteria for all spouses: OPERS will begin the process of eliminating a health care allowance for spouses beginning in 2015. Please see the Comprehensive Guide for retirees on the OPERS website for more information.

      –Ohio PERS

  96. Chuck says:

    Are the current retires spouses going to get some sort of government assistance after they loose there health care in 2015? It is going to put a hardship on us to the point of I do not know what. No one is going to insure our spouse’s at a cost and we will fall hard.

  97. Cheryl says:

    Can you address the many “retire- rehire” situations that will be taking place?? In our county, this is now the new way to do things…retire early “because of all these changes” and then rehired back…
    Does this impact the health care situation that is being drastically implemented??? Or are they just keeping “under the radar, say 20 hours per week” so they do not have to participate in employer health insurance? which means they are taking advantage of the OPERS health care

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Cheryl,

      I’m not sure what to tell you about that. Ohio law permits the rehiring of retirees, and we implement the applicable law in those cases. We can say that we did not make the changes in the health care plan because of rehired retirees.

      –Ohio PERS

  98. Deb says:

    Hi Mike…I had read the Comprehensive Guide to Pension & Health Care Changes. I think I understand the chart examples: If you are under 60, start at age 60, if you are over 65, start at 65. If you have 31.5 years do you go to 31 years or do you go to 32 years in planning for future health care benefits for myself and my spouse. I will be 58 in November 2012 and plan to retire December 31, 2012.

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Deb,

      You have to round down. You couldn’t have credit for, say, 36 years until you worked the full 36 years.

      –Ohio PERS

  99. Anthony G says:

    Please explain the following for Group A:

    2.2% of Final average salary (FAS) for the first 30 years of
    service; 2.5% of FAS for each year in excess of 30 – Current Law

    Will this remain unchanged for Group A? 2.5% of FAS for each year in excess of 30?…or 2.2% in excess of 30….then 2.5% in excess of 35?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Anthony,

      The only major change affecting members of Group A is the COLA change. The formula multiplier will remain the same for you if you are in Group A.

      –Ohio PERS

  100. Gail says:

    I am a spouse of one of your retirees. I have read and called pers and talked to them several times. First, pers said that employers don’t usually pay for the Medicare Part B premiums which is $96.90 so they are taking that away from the retirees so their pensions will show a decrease in pay of $96.90 within the next few years. Retirees will have to pay up to $300.00 for their healtcare a month starting within the next few years. Spouses like me will be terminated by 2020. If we want to stay on our retirees plan it will cost us full pay within the next few years. To continue our coverage with pers it is going to cost $800.00 plus a month. Also, our deductable for 2013 is going up another $100.00 and our yearly out of pocket expense is going up from 2000.00 to $2500.00. That’s another 500.00 increase in one year. My husbands pension is $2700.00 a month. If you take away the $1100.00 for premiums for insurance that will put his pension down to $1600.00 per month then take away the $96.90 for Medicare premiums that puts his pension down to a little over $1500.00 a month. If he gets sick and has to pay the premiums before insurance kicks in he will have to pay approximately $280.00 month to hospitals or doctors. If he makes payments to hospitals that will knock his income monies down to $1,222.00 a month. If I get sick that will knock our income down to $943.00 a month. So you tell me who can afford this? All my husbands pension will be going to premiums and possible hospitals and doctors. My understanding of the health care reform was by 2014 all annual premiums would be eliminated and insurance would be affordable. In fact I have been talking to a person about the health care reform and I told them what my insurance company was doing with rates and annual premiums and they said this is not right. In fact I copied the statement that states by 2014 the annual premiums would be deleted. Here it is-(Lifetime & Annual Limits
    The Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from putting a lifetime dollar limit on most benefits you receive. The law also restricts and phases out the annual dollar limits a health plan can place on most of your benefits — and does away with these limits entirely in 2014.)
    The Affordable Health Care Act is suppose to be affordable and they have rules which I fill pers is not following. You who are affected by this needs to check into the healthcare act and we need to try to stop what pers is doing to us. We are retired and suppose to be enjoying our life not sitting at home paying hospitals and doctors. I know I can’t live on $943.00 a month. My electric, gas and groceries cost more than that.
    Also, pers said they don’t know of employers that reimburse $96.90 for Medicare well I have never heard of a employer that hasn’t covered the spouse under a health insurance plan. So since I haven’t heard of a employer not covering there spouse can they change this policy back the way it was?

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Gail,

      Most of the Affordable Care Act applies to employer-sponsored health care. We are not an employer, but a retiree group. The limits on premium sharing for individuals has to do only with employer-sponsored plans and the individual market. It does not apply to retiree plans. In every area where we must, we have complied with the ACA.

      –Ohio PERS

  101. Gail says:

    Pers applied for Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) and I see pers was approved. This program reimburses monies to you for our healthcare. Why is this money not being spent on keeping our deductibles, and annual deductable lower? The government set back $5 billion to help unions and so on to help with our healthcare. Pers is receiving some of this 5 billion dollars. I copied and paste the following info from ERRP

    Applicants who are approved to participate in the program receive reinsurance for the claims of high-cost retirees and their families. Approved applicants can use these funds to provide premium relief and other health care cost relief to their retirees and workers and their families, to offset increases in their own health care premiums or costs, or for a combination of these purposes.
    Thanks again,
    Gail

    • Michael Pramik says:

      Gail,

      Contrary to what you may believe, the OPERS Board of Trustees already approved using part of the ERRP money that we received to keep rates steady in 2012 and 2013. The remainder of the money will also help keep our rates lower for 2014.

      –Ohio PERS

  102. Jeff says:

    Unbelievable… When I started working for the state in 1986 health care was an integral part of the retirement package. I’ve watched that “promise” go from full coverage to “you pay half” coverage to zero coverage. I don’t have enough service credit (14 years) to qualify any longer. Needless to say I am very disappointed in this law. With Medicare survival in question I am fearful for my future. I am very disappointed.
    One question: does OPERS cover our lawmakers too ?

  103. Jan says:

    As far as I can tell, this is forced retirement for me. It’s very disconcerting, since I am not ready to retire. My understanding is if I retire before January 2014, OPERS will pay a certain amount into my Medicare when I turn 65 years. If I do not retire by that date, OPERS will not contribute to Medicare when I turn 65. I am 61 years old and I have 14 years of service with OPERS. Because I do not meet a monthly hour allotment and because I make less than $1,000 a month it seems like I am being “punished.”

  104. Ken says:

    I left state service with 13 years in 2009. Recived my yearly statement and my projected benifits went from $1500 a month at age 60 to $800 a month at age 62. I think the General Assembly forgot about a group of us as I cannot image a cut of benifits to any single group of almost 50%. Can somebody exam the effect this will have and add a cap to the impact level? No one person should have this level of impact on their benifits.

  105. Peg says:

    I am a surviving spouse age 62. I understand when I am eligible for Medicare Opers will not longer provide me with health insurance. When my husband died I was told I would have health insurance at a small charge to me from my husband’s pension. I understand changes need to be made but will I be completely cutoff?

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