Monday, December 10, 2007

Hurricane-hit state retirees get chance to return to work

A bill passed earlier this year will allow state employees who were working in hurricane-affected areas and took an early retirement between Aug. 31, 2005, and June 30, 2006, to return to work without the two-year wait.

Cindy Rougeou, executive director of the Louisiana State Employee Retirement System, said there is no way to tell exactly how many of the 395 state employees who chose early retirement during that time were in the 37 affected parishes.

State officials said after the storms, many state jobs were lost and employees were forced into early retirement.

Deidre Wright is one of many state employees affected by the 2005 hurricanes that are eligible to use a new law to get back what the storms took away.

After the storms, people took the early retirement option because they needed the benefit and insurance coverage to survive while they were jobless, Wright said.

“The other people (in non-affected areas) took it because they wanted to,” Wright said. “The rest of us took it because we needed to.”

She wanted to return to work but was concerned about her options, so she called state Sen. Jody Amedee, D-Gonzales, who authored the bill. “I didn’t have trouble passing it,” Amedee said.

Now those retirees can return to work and, if they pay back their benefits, can regain their status in years of employment, he said.

No comments: