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ERI
General Court

Legislative Update

 
     ACTS of 2004
 

Chapter 149 of the Acts of 2004

                  

Commonwealth Budget: Major Pension-Related Outside Sections

                  

Section 15 Notifications

                  
Section 63    Section 59 of chapter 30, as so appearing, is here by amended by inserting after the word “him”, in line 26, the following words: -, subject to the provisions of section 15 of chapter 32. The employer of any person so suspended shall immediately notify the retirement system of which the person is a member of the suspension and shall notify the retirement board of the outcome of any charges brought against the individual.
  
  


Summary: This section requires the employer (Commonwealth) to notify the retirement board of a suspension of a person under indictment and of the outcome of the incident. The purpose is to assist the retirement boards in implementing G.L. c. 32, Section 15.
     

Section 79    Section 15 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following subsection: -
(5) If the attorney general or any district attorney becomes aware of a final conviction of a member of a retirement system under circumstances which may require forfeiture of said member’s rights to a pension, retirement allowance, or a return of his accumulated total deductions pursuant to this chapter, sections 58 or 59 of chapter 30 or section 25 of chapter 258A, he shall immediately notify the commission of such conviction.
  
  


Summary: This section requires the Attorney General or any District Attorney to notify PERAC of a conviction of a person whose retirement allowance or annuity account could be impacted pursuant to G.L. c. 32, G.L. c. 30, Sections 58 or 59 or G.L. 268A, Section 25. The purpose is to assist the retirement boards in implementing G.L. c . 32, Section 15.
      

Section 210    Section 25 of chapter 268A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is here by amended by inserting after the word “him”, in line 28, the following words: - , subject to section 15 of chapter 32.The employer of a person so suspended shall immediately notify the retirement system of which the person is a member of the suspension and shall notify the Retirement board of the outcome of any charges brought against the individual.
  
  


Summary: This section requires the municipal employer to notify the retirement board of a suspension of a person under indictment and of the outcome of the indictment. The purpose is to assist the retirement boards in implementing G.L. c. 32, Section 15.
      

Survivor Age – Enrolled in Educational Institutions

                  
Section 71    Section 7 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the word “eighteen”, in line 88, and inserting in place thereof the following words: - 18, or, if over said age and under age 22, is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution,.
  
  


Summary: This section, along with Sections 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 83, 84, and 87 brings consistency to the ages for eligibility for various dependents’ benefits.
      

Section 72    Said section 7 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is here by further amended by striking out the word “twenty-one”, in line 97 and inserting in place there of the figure: - 22.
  
  

      

Section 73    Section 9 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the word “eighteen”, in line 55, and inserting in place thereof the following: - 18, or are over said age and under age 22 and full-time students at accredited educational institutions,.
  
  

      

Section 74    Said section 9 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the word “eighteen”, in line 60, and inserting in place thereof the following: - 18, or is over said age and under age 22 and is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution,.
  
  

      

Section 75    Said section 9 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended in paragraph (c) of subdivision (2) by inserting at the end of said paragraph (c) the following new sentences: -The words “full-time student” shall mean a child who is in full-time attendance in an accredited educational institution offering full-time courses of study equivalent to or higher than secondary school study. The words “accredited educational institution” shall mean any school, college, or university that is licensed, approved or accredited, as the case may be, in the state in which it is located.
  
  

      

Section 76    Said section 9 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the word “twenty-one”, in each of lines 73 and 79, and inserting in each place thereof the figure: - 22.
  
  

      

Section 78    Section 12B of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the word “twenty-one”, in lines 36 and 37, and inserting in place thereof the figure: - 22.
  
  

      

Section 83    Section 26 of said chapter 32 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the word “eighteen”, in line 51, and inserting in place thereof the following:- 18, or, if over said age and under age 22, who is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution,.
  
  

      

Section 84    Said section 26 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the word “twenty-one”, in line 57, and inserting in place thereof the figure:- 22.
  
  

      

Section 87    Section 100 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the word “twenty-one”, in line 32, and inserting in place thereof the figure: - 22.
  
  

      

Death Benefits

                  
Section 77    Subdivision (1) of section 12 of chapter 32 of the General Laws, is hereby amended by striking out the second sentence, as amended by section 17 of chapter 306 of the Acts of 1996, and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Any member who is retired for disability under the provisions of section six, section seven or who is retired under the provisions of subdivision (2) of section twenty-six, may elect to have his allowance paid in accordance with the terms of option (a), option (b), or option (c), provided, however, that, in the event that the surviving eligible beneficiary of said member, under said option (c), is eligible for a benefit under section nine, said beneficiary shall elect to receive either a benefit pursuant to option (c) or a benefit pursuant to said section nine, but in no event shall said beneficiary be eligible for both benefits.
  
  


Summary: This section will eliminate the possibility that a single beneficiary could receive two benefits (the Option C survivor benefit and the death benefit provided for in G.L. c. 32, Section 9) as the result of the death of a member. This section would require the Option C beneficiary who is also eligible for the Section 9 benefit to select one benefit. If theOption C beneficiary and the eligible Section 9 beneficiary are different persons, two benefits would be paid. The possibility of the same person receiving two benefits will remain for those persons who were named as Option C beneficiaries between November 7, 1997 and the effective date of this provision.
     

91A Termination of Benefits on Non-Compliance

                  
Section 85    Section 91A of Chapter 32 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking the words “cease and shall in no event be reinstated” as they appear in lines 14 and 15 of the 2002 Official Edition and inserting inplace thereof the word “terminate”.
  
  


Summary: This section (along with Section 86) amends G.L. c. 32, Section 91A so that the allowance of a disability retiree who does not file the annual statement required by the section could be terminated for the period of non-compliance. Written notice to the member and an opportunity to be heard by the appropriate retirement board is required before the allowance is actually terminated.
     

Section 86   

Said section 91A of said chapter 32 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding the following new sentence: -A member shall not be entitled to recover a retirement allowance for any period during which the member’s rights in and to his retirement allowance were terminated for failure to submit a statement to the commission under this section. After written notice and opportunity to be heard by the board, termination of a member’s rights in and to a retirement allowance for failure to submit a statement to the commission shall be considered by the board to be effective as of the date that such statement was due to be submitted to the board. If a retirement allowance was paid to a member for any period during which such member’s rights in and to a retirement allowance were terminated for failure to submit a statement to the commission, such member shall refund the portion of his retirement allowance attributable to such period.
  
Note:
The language in this section differs from the PERAC proposed language, yet accomplishes the objective of the PERAC proposed item.

  
  

     

Definition of Actuarial Equivalent

                  
Section 67    Said section 1 of said chapter 32, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking the definition of “Actuarial equivalent” and inserting in place thereof the following definition: -“Actuarial equivalent”, any benefit of equal value when computed upon the basis of a mortality table to be selected by the actuary and an interest rate determined by the actuary.
  
  


Summary: This section amends the definition of “actuarial equivalent” to allow the PERAC Actuary to adopt a mortality table and an interest rate. Section 336 requires the Actuary to adopt the mortality table within 180 days of the effective date of the act.
     

Mortality Table and Interest Rate

                  
Section 336    Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the public employee retirement administration commission shall review the current combined table of mortality and select a new table of mortality within 180 days of the effective date of this act.
  
  


Summary: Section 67 amends the definition of “actuarial equivalent” to allow the PERAC Actuary to adopt a mortality table and an interest rate.This section requires the Actuary to adopt a mortality table within 180 days of the effective date of the act.
     

Reinstatement

                  
Section 88    Said chapter 32 is hereby further amended by adding the following new section:—

Section 105. (a) Any member retired under the provisions of section 5 or section 10 shall be eligible to be reinstated in a retirement system established under this chapter, if the retired member repays to the system from which he retired an amount equal to the total amount of any retirement allowance received by the retired member, together with actuarial assumed interest thereon. Such payment shall be made in one lump sum or in installments as the board shall prescribe. Upon such reinstatement, regular deductions shall be made from regular compensation pursuant to paragraphs (b) and (b½) of subdivision (1) of section 22, for the purposes of which, the member’s date of entry into service shall be the date such member waived his retirement allowance or the date of reinstatement, whichever occurs earlier. Upon completion of such payment, the member shall be entitled to creditable service for all periods of service for which deductions were made from the member’s regular compensation. For purposes of this section, the term “reinstatement service” shall mean a member’s period of full-time employment after reinstatement in a retirement system under this section.

(b) If the member shall have less than 5 years reinstatement service, upon retirement, said member shall receive a refund of the payments actually made to the system under this section. The member shall not be entitled to any creditable service for the reinstatement service, nor shall said member be eligible to establish any additional creditable service under any provision for make up payments or other payments.

(c) If the member shall have 5 years or more of reinstatement service, the member shall be entitled to creditable service resulting from his reinstatement service, upon the completion of payments required under subsection (a) and payment of regular deductions under section 22 for the reinstatement service. In the event that a retirement allowance becomes effective for the member before the completion of payments under subsection (a), the member shall be entitled to credit for that proportion of reinstatement service as the board shall prescribe, in addition to any credit for service rendered prior to the date of reinstatement; provided that the member would have otherwise been eligible for said prior service.

  
  


Summary: This new section would allow a person retired under G.L. c. 32, §§ 5 or 10, to return to membership in the Retirement System when employed in the public sector after retirement. The retiree would become a member upon payment to the appropriate retirement system of an amount equal to the retirement allowance that the person had received while retired plus “actuarial assumed interest”. The person will contribute to the retirement system at the rate in effect on the date that the person waived his or her allowance or the date that the member was reinstated to membership, which-ever date is earlier. If the person remains a reinstated member (as a full-time employee) for more than 5 years, he or she will be eligible to retire again, with additional creditable service and a likely new three year average rate of regular compensation. If the person is reinstated to membership for less than 5 years, upon retirement, he or she will receive a refund of all amounts that were paid into the system.
     

Purchase of Property by Retirement Boards for Their Administrative Offices

                  
Section 325   

Note: The Commission has supported the following Section 325 in concept but not specifically.

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Plymouth Retirement Board may, in accordance with guidelines established by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, purchase the real property located at 89 Court Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts for the purpose of the use of the property for the administrative office of the Plymouth Retirement Board, and may purchase or lease equipment and employ any such personnel necessary for the proper administration and transaction of business of the retirement system.Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Salem Retirement Board may, in accordance with guidelines established by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, purchase the real property located at 20 Central Street, Suite 110, Salem, Massachusetts for the purpose of the use of the property for the administrative office of the Salem Retirement Board and may purchase or lease equipment and employ any such personnel necessary for the proper administration and transaction of business of the retirement system.

  
  


Summary: This section will allow the Plymouth Retirement Board and the Salem Retirement Board to purchase specified real property to use as their administrative offices. However, the Commission has not reviewed this particular provision and does not take a position with respect to it.
     

COLA and Other Provisions

                  
Section 379   

The amounts transferred pursuant to section 5B of chapter 29 of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 163 of chapter 26 of the Acts of 2003, shall be made available for the Commonwealth’s Pension Liability Fund established under section 22 of chapter 32 of the General Laws. The amounts transferred pursuant to said section 5B of said chapter 29 shall meet the commonwealth’s obligations under section 22C of said chapter 32, including retirement benefits payable by the state employees’ and the state teachers’ retirement systems, for the costs associated with a 3 per cent cost-of-living adjustment pursuant to section 102 of said chapter 32, the reimbursement of local retirement systems for previously authorized cost-of-living adjustments pursuant to section 102 of said chapter 32, and for the costs of increased survivor benefits pursuant to chapter 389 of the Acts of 1984. Subject to the rules and regulations promulgated by the treasurer, the state retirement board and each city, town, county and district shall verify the cost thereof and the treasurer may make such payments upon a transfer of funds to reimburse certain cities and towns for pensions to retired teachers and including any other obligations which the commonwealth has assumed on behalf of any retirement system other than the state employees’ or state teachers’ retirement systems and including the commonwealth’s share of the amounts to be transferred pursuant to section 22B of said chapter 32 and the amounts to be transferred pursuant to subsection (a) of the last paragraph of section 21 of chapter 138 of the General Laws. All payments for the purposes described in this item shall be made only pursuant to distribution of monies from the fund, and any such distribution and the payments for which distributions are required shall be detailed in a written report filed quarterly by the commissioner of administration with the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on public service in advance of such distribution. Such distributions shall not be made in advance of the date on which a payment is actually to be made. The state retirement board may expend an amount for the purposes of the higher education coordinating council’s optional retirement program pursuant to section 40 of chapter 15A of the General Laws. To the extent that the amount transferred pursuant to section 5B of said chapter 29 exceeds the amount necessary to adequately fund the annual pension obligations, the excess amount shall be credited to the Pension Reserves Investment Trust Fund of the commonwealth for the purpose of reducing the unfunded pension liability of the commonwealth.

  
  


Summary: This section provides for a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for retired employees of the state employees' and the state teachers’ retirement systems among other provisions.

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