The Associated Press
SALEM Thousands of retired public workers will see an increase in their monthly pension checks as the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System restores cost-of-living adjustments to many workers who retired from April 2000 through March 2004.
The action applies to about 22,500 retired workers, many of whom had their COLAs frozen from 2003 to 2006 after a series of legislative reforms, court decisions and an out-of-court settlement.
"For most people at this point, it will mean an increase in their current benefit," PERS executive director Paul Cleary told the Salem Statesman Journal. He estimated 80 percent of the 22,500 retirees will see their pension checks grow.
Some pensions will shrink or remain flat because PERS also will adjust for "overpayments" to worker pension accounts in 2000. That stems from a finding by Marion Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb that PERS should have boosted worker accounts by 11.3 percent instead of 20 percent when it doled out 1999 investment earnings.
PERS already has adjusted the pensions of about 9,000 of the retirees and will take until February to adjust about 22,500 more accounts, Cleary said.
PERS decided to proceed with the pension adjustments after a conference last week with Multnomah Circuit Judge Henry Kantor. In June, Kantor ruled that retirees shouldn't have to pay money back to PERS and that the pension fund should refund money already collected.
PERS asked the judge to clarify his ruling. Kantor agreed that his June ruling didn't address PERS efforts to adjust for the 2000 overpayments, said Steve Rodeman, administrator of PERS' Policy, Planning and Legislative Analysis division. So the pension system decided it could proceed with recalibrating retiree pensions.
"We're going to put them on the path to get the corrected benefits," Cleary said.