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Sunday, February 18, 2007

When The Ball Drops

My last entry motivated a fair number of readers to email me about PERS' schedule for invoicing. "When will I be next?" is the common question. Folks, PERS doesn't keep me posted on their invoicing cycle. The people who've written to me have come from all over the retirement map, from 1999 to 2003, and from all different types of circumstances. As best I can tell -- and I may well be wrong -- PERS still seems to be "testing" their invoicing by sending out invoices to nearly randomly selected individuals to make sure they've gotten all the billing issues straight and all the calculations and explanations correct. There is nothing I've seen or heard that indicates that PERS has begun a regular and systematic billing of retirees. I suspect that will begin in March and continue for several years. It has also been suggested elsewhere that PERS' stringing this out over such a long period of time is deliberate, but not for the reasons they give. The usual reasons cite manpower shortages, desire to restrict the "damage" to any one retiree by waiting for the "crossover" of benefits to occur, etc. That is all plausible, but one wonders if something more deliberate isn't going on. Why is it that so few retirees - compared to the total number affected - are so vocal about the PERS "takeback"? Do you think that maybe PERS wants to bill slowly so that they never bill enough people to gain a critical mass of outrage? Imagine what would happen if 37,000 bills went out all at one time? Now imagine if only 1,000 bills go out each month? Big difference in reaction. Hard to organize opposition when only a few people at a time get notified. And believe me, relatively few people know enough to be worried about the impact. Most are completely clueless and will continue to be until they get that bill. I know because some of the folks being billed are just now becoming aware there is a problem. Favorite comment: "Why is this happening to me?" "What caused this to happen?". My only response is: "What planet have you been living on for the past 5 years?" Slow billing - PERS manpower shortage and PERS desire to "be nice" or PERS strategy for keeping groups of unhappy people small at any given time? Enough to make you wonder.

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