Local Adoption Increase in Child Allowance

An inequity, that had persisted in the retirement law for
several years, was finally corrected last year. It involves the amount of the
child allowance paid to a retiree on accidental disability versus the amount
received by their widow (or widower) if the retiree died from their disability.

Under the retirement law (Chapter 32), an accidental
disability retiree (Section 7) receives a very modest allowance for children
who meet certain conditions (i.e., under 18, over 18 but in college, physically
or mentally incapacitated). A child allowance continues to be paid to the widow
(or widower) of these retirees if they died from their disability and the widow
receives what is called an accidental death benefit (Section 9).

According to Legislative Chairman Bill Hill, “Back in ’87,
they passed a local option law that increased the meager amount of the child
allowance for accidental disability retirees from $312 a year to $450. They
also provided that the amount would be increased annually by the same
percentage that is applied to the disability pension itself.

“Unfortunately, the same adjustment was not provided to the
widows mentioned above. They continued to receive just $312 each year.”

Fortunately, the legislature took action, last year, that
would eliminate this inequity. Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2006 allows local
retirement systems, with the approval of the community’s executive officer and
legislative body, to increase Section 9 (accidental death) child allowances at
the same amount as they raise the Section 7 (accidental disability) child allowances.
Currently, the Section 7 child allowance is $648.48.

Accepted Locally

“Within weeks of its passage, our Board accepted Chapter
55,” reports Newton Board Director Kelly Byrne. “When Mayor Cohen and the Board
of Aldermen ratified the Board’s acceptance, two widows were extremely grateful
to receive a bit more each month.”

“Since Chapter 55 was enacted after most town meetings were
held last year, most local systems would not have been able to complete
acceptance until this year,” continues Hill. “We expect to see more and more
systems correcting this inequity throughout ’07.”

“Our Board accepted the law in 2006 but has to wait for
Andover’s Town Meeting approval,” according to Elena Kothman, retirement
administrator of the Andover Board. “It’s unfortunate that it took so long to
remedy the situation. Nevertheless, the opportunity now presents itself, and
the Board intends to act on it.”

It should be noted that the increased child allowances are
automatic for the state and teacher retirement systems. At press time 17 local
systems have adopted Chapter 55. They are: Attleboro, Barnstable Cty, Berkshire
Cty, Cambridge, Dukes Cty, Gardner, Greenfield, Hampshire Cty, Haverhill,
Lawrence, Methuen, Newton, Plymouth Cty, Revere, Taunton, Weymouth, and Winthrop.