OPERS prepares to implement new legislative changes

House Bill 520 to begin impacting members in early April

Ohio House Bill 520, which includes several changes that may impact OPERS members, will become effective in early April.

OPERS is working on the implementation phase of HB 520, which will include targeted outreach to individuals who may be impacted by some of the following changes:

  • Survivor benefit payments to qualified children, under age 22, of an OPERS member who dies before retirement: OPERS will no longer require a child, over age 18, be attending an institution of learning or training in order to receive survivor benefits. If certain conditions are met, we’ll also resume paying survivor benefits to qualifying children under age 22 whose benefits were terminated because they were not in school.
  • Five new classifications for OPERS’ Law Enforcement/Public Safety divisions:
    • Special Police Officer for a Municipal Airport
    • Special Police Officer for a Port Authority
    • BCII Investigators
    • Department of Taxation Investigators
    • Casino Control Commission Gaming Agents

The Ohio General Assembly passed the legislation at the end of 2016, and Gov. John Kasich signed it on Jan. 4. The Ohio Legislative Service Commission has published a complete synopsis of changes made in HB 520 for all Ohio retirement systems.

You can read about more changes that were made to OPERS law on the PERSpective blog.

 

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • How about restoring Health care for LE members when they reach retirement age with 25 years instead of making them work until they have 30 years. LE members pay about 2 percent more than regular members. This is not fair.

  • Why would opers consider restoring an allowance to some spouses but not all. No spouses have paid in and if any are given an allowance all should be. I feel bad for widows but opers is considering them separate from other spouses. Also, they are not even considering all widows. Only ones widowed before 2013 and over 65 and income based. This is very selective. The comment was even made that the members would be willing to take less to pay for this. I think the members should be polled because many are struggling too.

    • Lynn,

      The OPERS Board of Trustees is considering an extension of the current healthcare allowance for some Medicare-eligible surviving spouses based on federal poverty levels. Discussions are continuing, and we’ll communicate the details when a decision has been made.

      Julie, Ohio PERS

  • How about getting rid of the windfall program that takes a percentage of retired workers social security benefits that have worked in the private sector if they also worked in the public sector. This is an unfair penalty to take benefits paid from a person who paid for these benefits regardless if they also worked for local government in Ohio

    • I agree. Ohio is one of just a few states that impose this reduction in Social Security and I resent that I cannot receive my whole benefit. Is there anything that members can do?

    • I agree with you. Why is it no one will address this issue. I worked for that money, and the government is stealing it from me.

      • I wonder also, who is in charge of bringing this to the finance committee in DC. I have seen it on the agenda every year but dies without action. Why? I have contacted my federal legislators regarding this many times, to no avail or reply.

        • Troy,
          The federal legislation you are referring to is HR 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, sponsored by US Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).
          Generally, HR 711 would revise the existing Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) formula to include service performed for non-Social Security-covered employers (such as Ohio’s public employers).
          We fully expect Rep. Brady to reintroduce the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act in the current Congress. Almost since its first introduction, OPERS worked directly with Rep. Brady and his staff to ensure that HR 711 would benefit all of our members. We fully intend to continue that work if and when the bill is reintroduced.
          Please let me know if you have any questions.
          Thanks,
          Julie

  • Please consider reinstating Spousal coverage for healthcare…If not fully covered why not use a 50/50 model. We pay 50% of policy cost and OPERS picks up 50%. The cost for my wife this year is $760 next year will be at 100% of the policy cost. These costs are really harmful to our budget. With the issues the current administration has with the ACA there may be no other real option for my wife to have healthcare next year. So if needed Why not grandfather current retirees into such a 50/50 arrangement. I began working with the State in 1976 and we planned on my wife to not work and raise our children. We were counting on my retirement benefits and also healthcare. So we didn’t plan for these changes. Once we found out the OPERS plans to eliminate her from coverage she was in her early 50’s and it was too late for her to pick up a job with healthcare. It would have been nice if “old timers” like myself could have been exempt from the changes to Healthcare that were made. I am sure there are other “old timers” in similar situations. We need help. Thanks in advance for any consideration.

  • Hello Mr. Pramik,
    Not sure where to post this on the new site. Back in December 2016, I posted a question regarding the top healthcare plans that our retirees selected in 2017. You asked that I re-post my question in late January 2017, and said you would reply then. So, here goes: Last year you posted the top healthcare plans our retirees selected for 2016. Could you please post the following information for the 2017 healthcare selections?
    —-top 5 Medigap carriers,
    —-top 5 Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, and
    —-the top 3 Medigap Plan types
    —-the top prescription carriers
    Thanks very much.

    • Cheryl,

      Thanks for asking. We are currently compiling that information, and we’re planning to post a blog on it in mid-February.

      –Ohio PERS

  • How about getting rid of the windfall program that takes a percentage of retired workers social security benefits that have worked in the private sector if they also worked in the public sector. This is an unfair penalty to take benefits paid from a person who paid for these benefits regardless if they also worked for local government in Ohio. Why is this not being addressed?

    • The federal legislation you are referring to was HR 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, sponsored by US Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).
      Generally, HR 711 would revise the existing Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) formula to include service performed for non-Social Security-covered employers (such as Ohio’s public employers).

      We fully expect Rep. Brady to reintroduce the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act in the current Congress. Almost since its first introduction, OPERS worked directly with Rep. Brady and his staff to ensure that HR 711 would benefit all of our members. We fully intend to continue that work if and when the bill is reintroduced.

      Julie, Ohio PERS

      • If it is reintroduced will it only be for those still working or will it include those that couldn’t wait any longer to retire?

  • Is there any discussion of going back to 48 and 25 for law enforcement retirements? Has there been any thought of 50 and 25 like Police and Fire instead of 52 and 30 tha it was changed to for PERS?

    • Aaron,

      The OPERS Board has not considered making a change in this area and there is no legislation pending. Currently, the minimum eligibility requirements for an unreduced pension in the Law Enforcement division are as follows: Group A – age 48 with 25 years of service; Group B – age 50 with 25 years of service; and, Group C – age 52 with 25 years of service.

      You can find more information in our law enforcement leaflet https://www.opers.org/pubs-archive/leaflets/ISL-E.pdf

      Julie, Ohio PERS

      • I am trying to determine where I would fall, would I need to contact someone there or meet with someone there to do so? My statements have group b and c listed and I am just trying to get a concrete age I can retire with unreduced benefits.

  • Might keep in mind that the proposed HR711 bill is designed to be “cost neutral” which means there will be some winners, some losers. For sure, this is not what we really need for full term future retirees. I’m kind of surprised that OPERS would be supporting this. I would highly recommend all members to actually take time and read the text of this bill. Elimination of the WEP and GPO provisions of Social Security benefits is not actually being considered.

    • We appreciate your perspective and encourage everyone to educate themselves on such issues. We continue to analyze the potential impact of the proposed legislation from the previous Congress and encourage your feedback. We plan to address this topic in an upcoming blog.

      Thank you,

      Julie, Ohio PERS

  • The link where it says, “You can read about more changes that were made to OPERS law on the PERSpective blog” is broken. We get an Error 404 stating Object not found! and The requested URL was not found on this server. Wanted to let someone know.

  • How about the windfall tax. Are they going to eliminate it. Why should I or anyone who put time into social security and then went into public service be penalized. Last time I looked, the government did not earn that money. It came from the taxes from my paycheck, not thiers!!!!

  • For children that receive survivor benefits that reach age 22 prior to graduation from a college institution, is it possible to get the benefits extended until completion of schooling?

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