This is really a post for all of you out there who read this blog and who have been INACTIVE members of PERS for some time (I'm not sure this includes my colleagues in higher education, who withdrew from further participation in PERS back in 1996 when the Oregon University System offered the one-time option to switch to the Optional Retirement Plan -- if I were you, I'd be very concerned and start querying the AOF and other organizations to start lobbying for you). Anyhow, if you are not an active member of PERS but haven't retired, this message is for you, so start reading carefully from here on out.
Today (May 15, 2013), Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber threw down the gauntlet for Oregon's Legislature to finish its budget negotiations, pass the additional revenue measures and finish reforming PERS. Guess who is now in the line of fire? Yep, inactive members of PERS, especially Tier 1 and Tier 2 members who have been receiving earnings on their money since leaving the system are now at special risk for losing access to Money Match as a means of retiring. This is far from a done deal. Indeed, there isn't even a bill proposing to do this yet. But, now that this is out in the open you can bet that it won't be long before active discussions start. Even the Oregon Attorney General has checked to indicate that removing Money Match for inactives is defensible.
If you are already 58 (Tier 1) or 60 (Tier 2), you might want to give serious thought to putting in your PERS retirement papers soon, before they have a chance to hold you up for as much as is already in YOUR account. That's right. They could be proposing to take away your right to the employer contribution when you finally retire. If you manage to retire before this law were to go into effect you could preserve all your accrued benefits and not have to wait for a lawsuit that might save you.
If you know other inactive members of PERS, pass this message on. If you are thinking that you can wait until whenever and just retire at your leisure, think again. Even if the Legislature doesn't get around to this during this session, the problem isn't going to go away. It is now an open problem, identified in a public testimony as something contributing to the current imbalance in the PERS system. You are now a sitting duck, waiting to be blown away by a high caliber weapon aimed straight at half your earned retirement benefits (the employer match, not your own money). Until I see a bill, I can't predict how punitive it will be, but if I were in your situation, I would be thinking very seriously of trying any way possible to start protecting whatever benefits you are entitled to.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here. I have some thoughts about strategies.