Monday, June 1, 2009

Retirement Bills continue to Advance at the Capitol – By Robyn Ekings

The Senate Retirement Committee today (June 1st) approved several house passed measures that would affect benefits for certain members of state retirement systems. They include:

HB 96 by Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson allows state and statewide retirement systems a retirement option with guaranteed annual 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).

Under the plan, a system member would receive an actuarially reduced benefit to fund the COLAs. Additionally, any COLAs granted to the system would be paid to the retiree. The option would be available to new retirees. Any member would have to be 55 or older to receive the COLA. The bill is now in the hands of the full Senate.

Minden Representative Jean Doerge convinced senators on the panel that certain retirees, beneficiaries and survivors receiving benefits that fall below the federal poverty line should be able to qualify for a minimum benefit increase. HB 586 says those affected are eligible for a benefit that’s less than $1200 a month. Other requirements for qualification include 30 or more years of service credit, excluding unused leave; retired for 15 or more years; at least 60 years of age and did not participate in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) or Initial Benefit Option (IBO).

The plan is supported by the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System (LASERS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL). The proposal will next be heard on the Senate floor.

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