Special Legislation Waives Retiree Work Limits for 2020

Special Legislation Waives Retiree Work Limits for 2020

Final Approval by Governor Expected Soon

APRIL 3, 2020: Late Thursday, the Legislature passed special legislation that waives the legal limit on public retirees working in government jobs here in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign this special act as soon as today, which will waive both the hour and earnings limits for superannuation retirees in 2020.

During these uncertain times, public employees are on the front lines helping our communities deal with the COVID-19 crisis that has impacted the Commonwealth. Our medical teams, first responders and public health workers are providing critical services and working long hours.  As the pandemic has grown so has the demand for resources, stretching many communities to the limits and need for people to fill the gaps has risen exponentially. This is where public retirees, many of whom are Mass Retiree members, come in.  

We have heard from many of our members who are working part-time in these roles, putting their own health at risk, to assist their communities. However, as demand has increased, they have been asked to work additional hours, which could put them in violation of the law. After hearing from these members, we worked with state officials and legislative members to address their concerns. As part of the response to the COVID-19 crisis a special waiver was announced that would exempt public retirees who are working in the public sector from the hour and wage limit restrictions while the emergency is in effect. 

Job Resources for Retired Health Professionals

Included in a larger piece of legislation that provides assistance for dealing with the crisis to municipalities, the language allows retirees to work beyond the 960 hours and wage restrictions set forth in M.G.L. Chapter 32, Section 91. Currently, retirees who return to the public sector can only work a total of 960 hours in a calendar year and earn only the difference between the current pay for their former job and their pension plus an additional $15,000.  The special wavier, which will be monitored by PERAC, allows retirees to continue to work in these critical roles without worrying about facing the penalties in the law. The waiver language, however, does not apply to those working under a disability retirement. In addition, those who work in the private sector, government jobs outside of Mass. or for the federal government are not impacted by the limit.  

We appreciate the work that the Legislature and Administration did on this issue and the speed at which they addressed this need. It should be noted, that we will continue our work to advance H2213, legislation that seeks to increase the number of hours allowed from 960 to 1,200 hours per year. The increase will bring the law in-line with what is considered traditional part-time hours.