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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Right Down The Line

There are lots of questions about how PERS will implement the recovery of monies owed by "window retirees".  PERS has tried to answer these as best they can in their FAQ posted at the PERS website.  One recurrent theme in the discussions surrounding the repayment is the fact that members want flexibility to repay PERS at higher than the minimum 2% of gross benefit that PERS came up with.  But, in wanting flexibility, window retirees seem to want to have it both ways - flexibility to increase the amount of the payment in good times, and the flexibility to reduce the payment back to the minimum in harder times.  While I know that PERS will consider these arrangements on an individual basis, I think it prudent for those affected by the repayment to consider agreeing on an amount - 2% up to 10% of gross benefit - as permitted by ORS 238.715, and sticking to the payment amount they decide on.  It is not PERS' obligation to permit "window retirees" to constantly change their payment over the life of the debt.  PERS has enough trouble now keeping records straight; it hardly behooves them to introduce a fail-safe mechanism doomed to failure from the outset.  My advice would be to pick an amount, any amount, and stick with it until the debt is fully repaid.  If 2% doesn't pay back fast enough, increase the percent, but don't expect to fall back on the minimum if life deals you a bad hand.  Once you agree to an amount, stick with it unless you want to write a check and pay the balance off at some future date.  Don't put PERS in the position of having to decide whether you are destitute because you made a poor decision at the beginning.

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