Retirement Benefits

Articles about Retirement Benefits that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

DALA Decision Appealed

MAY 2003
- No Final Word Yet - As predicted in the January Voice, the two decisions, issued by the
Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) on Option C veterans and
personal use of official motor vehicles, have sparked further
controversy. Currently, they are being appealed, so the final word on
these issues has yet to be heard.

Municipal Early-Outs Slowed

NOVEMBER 2002
- Caution At Local Level - After a rush of local government early retirement incentive (ERI)
activity this past spring, the caution flag has been flown and
acceptance of the home rule law has slowed considerably.

The
law (Chapter 116), which allows cities, towns, counties and various
authorities to avoid layoffs by offering up to five-years extra
retirement credit, went into effect on May 15 of this year, with a
November 1 local acceptance deadline.

Initially communities, such as Springfield, Quincy, Somerville, Fall River and New Bedford, were ready at the starting gate, immediately accepted the new law, and retired several hundred employees.

Nine
other communities and counties also accepted Chapter 116, mostly with
more limited numbers of allowed retirements and later effective
retirement dates. These are: Boston, Worcester, Westfield, Barnstable County, Melrose, Chicopee, Saugus, Athol and Dukes County.

All
of these retirement systems were listed in our September Voice. Since
that time, many cities and towns have looked at Chapter 116 with
caution and have decided not to accept the ERI law or to do studies on
the financial feasibility of allowing ERI retirements.

In
Rockland, for example, Town Administrator Bradley Plante said the sick
leave buyback alone for the employees, who indicated interest in
retiring early, would cost the town $200,000. Officials are also
concerned about additional costs, such as health insurance and
additional payroll for new hires, that would come with the plan.

"This
plan is really meant for larger communities - the Bostons and the
Worcesters and the Springfields," Plante said. "But for a small town
like us, I don't know."


Local ERI Update:

Adams set no limit on its 5-year ERI. Employees must file by November 1 and retire on December 31.

Barnstable
voted for an ERI, granting 5 years, with a limit of 20 employees (17
Group 1 and 3 Group 4). They had to apply by October 1 and retire by
October 31.

Belchertown accepted a 5-year ERI without limit. Applications were filed by September 2 with a December 31 retirement date.

Beverly accepted Chapter 116 and retired 27 (16 Group 1 and 11 Group 4). They had to apply by September 25 and retire by October 4.

Cohasset
limited its 5-year ERI to 4 employees (2 Group 1 and 2 Group 4).
Applications had to be filed by October 1 with a retirement date no
later than December 31.

Groton
set a December 1 filing deadline for a 5 year ERI with no limit. At
press time, there are 15 applicants including 4 police. They must
retire by December 31.

Holbrook adopted a no-limit ERI with 5 years. Employees must file by November 1 and retire by December 1.

Lawrence
set no limits on its 5-year ERI. Applicants had until September 30 to
apply and must retire by October 1. At press time, 83 have applied.

Leicester voted for an ERI of 5 years, limited to 8 employees (7 Group 1 and 1 Group 4 (police)). They retired by September 15.

Mass Turnpike voted a 5-year ERI with no limit. Employees must apply by October 30 and retire between August 5 and November 30.
Merrimac has received, at press time, 5 applications, including 1 Group
4, for its 5 year ERI with no limit. Applicants must retire by December
31.

Milbury
has received, at press time, 22 applications for a 5-year ERI. There is
no limit and employees must apply and retire by December 31.

Milford
voted a 5-year ERI, limited to 35 employees. Applications had to be
filed by September 13 with a retirement date no later than October 31.

Milton limited their ERI to 10 employees (8 Group 1 and 2 Group 4). They were given 5 years and must retire by November 30.

Montague
limited its 5-year ERI to 4 employees (2 Group 1 and 2 Group 4).
Applications were filed by August 16 with a retirement date of August
31.

New Marlboro Board of
Selectmen voted a 5-year ERI with a limit of three retirements. Only 2
employees filed by the October 1 deadline. They must retire prior to
November 1.

Palmer adopted a no-limit ERI with 5 years. Applications were due by September 30 and a retirement date set no later than December 30.

Revere
adopted an ERI, with 5 years and retired 18 employees (14 Group 1 and 4
Group 4). The applicants had to apply by May 30 and had to retire by
June 30.

Rochester approved
an ERI with 4 employees (3 Group 1and 1 Group 4) who were given 5
years. The application deadline was September 13 and they must retire
by December 31.

Salisbury
voted for a 5-year ERI with a limit of 6 employees (4 Group 1 and 2
Group 4). They must apply by November 30 and retire by December 31.

Southampton adopted a no-limit ERI with 5 years. Applications must be filed by December 2 with a December 31 retirement date.

Swampscott
voted to accept a 5-year ERI with a Group 1 limit of 16 and a Group 4
limit of 8 - 4 police, 4 fire - with a retirement date of December 31.

Truro adopted an ERI of 5 years, limited to 3 employees (2 Group 1 and 1 Group 4). They retired prior to July 30.

Waltham accepted a 5-year ERI with no limits. Applications were filed by October 1 with a retirement date no later than October 30.

Ware
accepted an ERI and limited to 5 employees who were given 5 years.
Applicants had to apply by September 6 and retire by December 31.

Wellesley
limited its 5-year ERI to 22 employees (12 Group 1 and 10 Group 4
including 5 fire, 3 police and 2 municipal light). They had to apply by
September 15 and retire by October 31.

West Tisbury set no limits on its 5-year ERI. Employees must retire by December 31.

Westwood set a limit of 8 employees, including Group 4, for a 5-year ERI. They must apply after October 1 and retire by November 30.

Williamstown
ERI was voted by the Board of Selectmen. They set no limits on 5-year
incentive. Applicants must file by September 30 and retire by November
30. The town expects 6 retirements.

Court Sides With Perac In Dispute Over What Disability Retirees Can Earn

SEPTEMBER 2002
- Disability retirees have suffered another setback in their battle
with the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC)
over what they can earn to supplement their pensions. This time, a
Mass. court has sided with PERAC's broader definition of the term
"earned income".

Problems For Polaroid Retirees Worsen

JULY 2002
- Pension Benefits May Be Reduced - Unfortunately the problems for Polaroid's retirees continue to go
from bad to worse, further demonstrating the importance of the pension
and insurance protections for public retirees that we have under Mass.
law. These same retirees, who have been devastated by the loss of their
health insurance benefits, may also suffer a reduction in their Polaroid pensions.

Circuit Breaker: Still Time To File

MAY 2002
- Even though the filing deadline for state income tax returns (April
16) may have passed, you can still file for circuit breaker (CB)
property tax relief. So members, particularly those who normally don’t
file state returns, should not be upset with themselves if they forgot
to apply by April 16. Time has not run out!

Fuel Aid Reminder

MARCH 2002
- Deadline: April 30 - Don't forget you must apply before April 30, under the state's fuel
assistance program known as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program,
(LIHEAP).

'Circuit Breaker' Tax Relief

JANUARY 2002 -
Eligible Members File This Year - Homeowners and renters, who are 65 or over before this January 1, can
file for the circuit breaker tax relief this year. For specifics, refer
to our earlier reports on the program in the January and March issues
of the Voice.

Update: Tax Relief Effort In North Carolina

NOVEMBER 2001
- Two years ago, we first reported on Association member Charles
Peckham and his work down in North Carolina, where he had moved after
retiring from Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational School. Peckham and
other members, in that state, were pushing passage of legislation that
would exclude public pensions, from Massachusetts and other states,
from North Carolina tax.

Transplant Recipient Going Strong

SEPTEMBER 2001 - Able To Meet Donor Family - When
we last visited with Association member Tom Kent at his Roslindale home
in 1995, he was still recovering from a kidney transplant operation
that had occurred that September. Kent, a state retiree from the
Auditor’s office, had been suffering from renal disease since the
mid-80s.

Haverhill Retirees Organize

SEPTEMBER 2001
-
Firefighters Lead The Way - Led by a group of retired Haverhill firefighters, former employees of
the City of Haverhill are now in the process of organizing a Retired
Haverhill Employees Association.