Just sitting around contemplating the potential end of summer. I've received a number of thoughtful emails about the impending release of retirees' names and monthly benefit amounts. These emails provoke some interesting notions. I thought I'd run a few up the flagpole and see what holds. Bear in mind that these aren't all my thoughts, but are the thoughts of some others that I've shamelessly borrowed because they deserve an airing.
- There are three cases awaiting final rulings before the Oregon Supreme Court. These are Arken, Robinson, and White. Decisions should be forthcoming in all these cases sometime before the end of the year, and there is no reason to expect that they might not come down in the next few weeks. [This is a statement of fact. Implications and questions follow]
- Assuming the decisions come down before November, will PERS be able to adjust the benefit levels to reflect the court's judgements and orders? If the court holds for Arken, Robinson, and White, the benefit levels of retirees affected by those cases would rise. On the contrary, if the court rules against Arken and White, but upholds Robinson, the current figures are accurate. If the court rules against Arken, White, and Robinson, all Window retiree benefits will be reduced by the amount necessary for the "overpayment" of benefits based on the 1999 earnings. Has PERS anticipated how to factor in these variables?
- The Robinson case holds that the amount still owed by Window retirees can't be collected. If we lose the Robinson case, will PERS adjust our benefits downward BEFORE reporting to the Oregonian and Statesman Journal. If not, will they inform both papers that all Window retirees have a significant debt to repay?
- Similarly, if the decisions don't come down before the first release of information, but come down before the second release, will PERS update the first set of information and inform the papers that they (they papers) are using incorrect information? Similarly, will they adjust the benefits upward if we win the lottery between the first and second information dumps?
- Are the newspapers getting only the information on individuals receiving a monthly benefit, or will the information on single and double lump-sum also be released.
- Which benefit amount will be released? The Option 1 benefit, or the actual benefit, which includes survivor options (in most cases)?
These are just a few of the questions that wander through my mailbox and through the corridors of my brain. There are so many wildcards out there that I am completely baffled how PERS and the newspapers can expect the information to be completely accurate and up-to-date. I expect the whole release process to be a cluster f**k for retirees as no matter what PERS releases, it is likely to be partially or totally inaccurate. I don't understand why the parties couldn't wait for the court cases now pending before the OSC to be finally decided and the rulings implemented.