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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Purple Haze

Man. I feel like I'm back in the 1960's listening to Jimi Hendrix. My email box is hopping with stories from PERS retirees who received "the letter" late last week or early this week. Besides the usual assortment of people who expected to get this notice, are the ever-increasing numbers of people who have absolutely no idea why they've received them because they meet none of the criteria to have received one. I have emails from four people who retired during 1999 who simply receive a monthly benefit, never had a lump sum settlement of any kind, never had a divorce decree, and simply should not be included in the group of notice receipients. Each of these correspondents describes a similar interaction with PERS. "We have no idea why you received one of these notices. If you wish to appeal the notice, the appeal process is described in the notice and our web site. Thanks for calling PERS". What should we advise these people to do? Hire a lawyer to appeal a notice they shouldn't have received? Get a judge to rule that they aren't included? When PERS loses, do they compensate for legal expenses? Or should these people just "hang loose" and gamble that the next three years will come and go without any further notice? If these people weren't bad enough, then we have the group who've gotten the notices and who've retired after 3/1/05. According to PERS information, these people had their benefits adjusted for both the Strunk and City of Eugene cases before they received their first benefit check. Why in heaven's name would they receive a notice? They seem to get the same canned answer from the PERS Customer Service drones. I've also heard from members who retired under Full Formula and who got one of these notices.

If I were charitable, I'd say this was a computer screw up? Or, in one of my less charitable thoughts, PERS simply picked arbitrary beginning and end dates and had the computer spew out as many of these notices as there were retirees in that particular time frame. Let's do a perp-sweep. Computers make this easy. Of course, computers also make it easy to exclude people, but that would require that the programming be done in something other than a purple haze.

P.S. And speaking of purple hazes, I just got a notice from another retiree whose husband received his "Notice of Board Order" last week (a pure "window retiree") while the spouse, also a retiree from the "window" but under Formula + Annuity did not get a notice as of today's mail delivery.

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