Reader: Article gave wrong impression of PERS system

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2006

Editor’s note: While it is true a person vests in the PERS plan with five years of service, employees who entered service on or after July 1, 1996, must accrue a minimum of 10 years of credited service to have system-paid retirement medical coverage at age 60.

Retirement medical coverage accounts for $368,545 of the $434,000 or 85 percent of the potential liability for one elected official. Currently five-year vesting only yields the pension portion, which is 15 percent of the total.

I am disappointed that Tuesday’s story headlined “Elected officials pension benefits cost thousands” was inaccurate in a very important premise of the tory. The article states “A key point is that the person vests in PERS after 10 years of service.” That statement is wrong. A person vests in PERS with 5 years of service.

In reference to elected officials they would be vested after serving two 3-year terms. The incorrect statement in the article gives readers the impression that an elected official would have to serve four 3-year terms to earn 10 years of PERS service.

I called the reporter on Tuesday morning and faxed him a chart from PERS to show him that he was wrong. He did not agree that a correction was necessary because under the current PERS tier 3 an elected official would need 10 years of service to be eligible for medical benefits. Being eligible for medical benefits is not the same as being vested in a pensions system.

In my opinion the Clarion should state facts with more attention to accuracy in it’s news articles.

Patty Rich


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