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Sunday, March 04, 2007
Blowin' in the Wind
PERS should have explained this in the letter. It would have saved them a ton of grief. Now, the only thing I can offer is that people appeal their benefit. I'm afraid the appeal won't show much except you'll get the details of the calculation so you can see how this all worked out.
I remember this topic coming up in a PERS Board meeting and the PERS staff cautioning that a complete review of calculations could end up in situations like this. Unfortunately, they underplayed their hand. It looks like it is happening in every single case I've heard about. So far, every single example I have where the "lookback" was the winning procedure originally, it now loses and produces a smaller gross benefit. This is a sick and cruel joke. Appeal the invoice. Make PERS do the extra work to provide you with the explanation. Make sure you thank your legislator. After you've done that, consider a contribution to one of the legal defense funds to help the litigation to stop this dead in its tracks.
P.S. In an answer to an obvious followup question. Why doesn't the "lookback" still work? Because the original lookback was formed on an assumption that is no longer legally correct. PERS calculated your "at retirement" actual account balance assuming 0% earnings for 2003 and 2004. Since the "lookback" used a pro-rate of 8% to simulate the June 30, 2003 balance, the "lookback" balance upon recalculation is actually lower than it was when originally calculated. The original "lookback" continued to "freeze" the 20% for 1999 without the 0% freeze. If you reduce 1999 but not the 2003 earnings rate, the revised "lookback" balance cannot possibly be higher. However, the total account balance is likely to be significantly higher because it was originally formulated with 20% for 1999, 0% for 2003, and 0% for whatever period you worked in 2004. The 1999 adjustment is common to both balances, 2003 had already been adjusted for the "lookback" but not the final account balance, and so there is virtually no way that the actual account balance adjusted for the Strunk/Eugene matter could be anything but significantly higher. And so, the "lookback" has little chance of "winning" against a significantly higher account balance after the recalculation.