October 24, 2014
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LETTERS
Sacrificial lambs of pension agreement

To the Editor:

I am a state worker and am not writing to whine, cry or complain, but rather to inform others of a segment of state employees that have been gravely impacted by pension reform. I believe the state pension system needed to be reformed. A set retirement age, both realistic and in line with other industries, should have been established years ago. Compounded COLAs should have been eliminated and the COLA determination revised and tied to the CPI. Perhaps if that had happened, I would not be in the situation I am in today.

Although our governor, general treasurer and union leadership believe the proposed pension settlement is a win for all, they are sadly mistaken. State workers over 55 years of age who are vested with under 20 years of state service are the sacrificial lambs of both the initial bill and this settlement. We do not have the years of employment left for a hybrid system to work for us. The half percent I will get from this proposed settlement will be negligible in my pension, and I don’t foresee any noticeable increase in my retirement benefit.

When the federal government changed its retirement system in 1986 from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), newly hired employees were put into the new system and existing employees were given the option of joining the FERS or staying in the CSRS. In President Bush’s charge to the Commission to Strengthen Social Security, he included the principle that any reform to the Social Security System should not affect the benefits of anyone 55 or older.

I am 59 years old and have been employed by the state for 19 years and four months. I have made life decisions based on salary and projected retirement earnings. I was under the belief that being vested meant I worked for the state long enough to be entitled to full pension benefits in the retirement plan. As it stands now, I will lose about 20 percent in pension benefits that, at my age, I can never regain. For me, and others in the same position, working well into our 70s is our new reality.

This settlement is unfair to older workers and, in my opinion, may also be discriminatory. Neither politicians nor union officials appear to care about either the welfare or security of older employees. From my position this is not a good day, it is not a win-win, and I do not see retirement as an option any time in the foreseeable future.

Diane L. Taft

Warwick


Comments
4 comments on this item

Blame it all on the do nothing politicians who just wanted to get re-elected over the years. You are completely right to feel wronged. I have a relative in the same situation. Having the rules changed on you in mid-stream is unfair.

Vote no, and good luck. Union leadership and politicians have known all along that defined benefit retirement plans were and continue to be a ponzi scheme. There are too many people collecting for too long and fewer workers paying into the system to support it. Exactly like social security. Which must be changed to save our country. Were all getting the shaft. Not just you. Again. good luck and like those of us looking forward to SS, get ready to work until your 70. Had the appropriate changes been made along the way this sudden as draconian reset could have been smoothed out and the burden could have also been shared by those that retired earlier.

It's a reality ALL of us face. Not just you after a measley 20 years. Suck it up. We are ALL going to have to work well past retirement age and into at least our 70's. Stay in good health and get used to it now. (And maybe try voting for somebody new for a change...) You're in good company with the rest of the country. At this point perhaps you should just be thankful you even HAVE a job!

(And if it gets really bad for poor you, just imagine how all of those Postal Workers feel.)

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