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Friday, July 20, 2007

Our Time Now

Although I didn't attend today's PERB meeting, PERS has already updated its website with the news that the Board approved the staff recommendation to pay a 2% COLA (seen in the next - August 1 - check) on the currently "frozen" benefits of some "window retirees". Those retirees who have already passed through the Strunk/Eugene sieve have had benefits adjusted and their COLA set (or already) to resume. Only the uninvoiced window retirees remain. The Board has now lifted the COLA freeze on the group of retirees who have not yet been subjected to the Strunk/Eugene process. That process is also currently suspended pending the outcome of a Status Conference on the Arken/Robinson cases before Judge Henry Kantor in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

While this is a useful beginning, it is important to not be lulled into complacency. According to the Strunk ruling from the Oregon Supreme Court, PERS has no right to collect anything from retirees for they are receiving a legislatively defined "fixed benefit" that doesn't contain errors. No errors, no collection. And even more significant is that PERS has no legal right to withhold COLAs from any retiree receiving monthly benefits. Thus, today's action takes care of 2007, but still leaves 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 as outstanding obligations. If you run my calculator (see left - SartainLipcomb files), you'll see how much PERS really owes you, contrasted with how much PERS thinks you owe them.

So, be happy you're getting something above your currently frozen benefit, but don't forget to keep your eyes on the prize.

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