Some elected officials and part-time public employees may find they no longer qualify for 100 percent benefits when they retire because of changes in Ohio's Public Employee Retirement System.
Beginning in 2014, public employees who fall under the PERS system must be paid at least $600 a month to earn full credit toward a pension, with the number going to $1,000 per month to earn full credit to qualify for health insurance coverage upon retirement. The current threshold to qualify for both is $250 per month.
After Jan. 1, those paid less than $600 will still qualify for pension benefits, but the amount applied will be prorated. For example, if a worker governed by PERS is paid $400 a month, they will earn a 67 percent PERS credit toward their pension only.
There is no such prorated benefit for health care coverage.
The changes were part of the 2012 sweeping overhaul of all five of Ohio's government employee retirement systems, including PERS, which is the largest. The changes were designed to address projected pension shortfalls attributed to the fact people today are living longer, public employees were able to retire earlier with full benefits compared to most private sector workers, and loss of pension plan investment revenue from the recession.
What this means is a number of elected officials who serve as council members, township trustees or on other boards, including Warren City Council which is attempting to give itself a raise to counteract the change, may no longer qualify for a full credit.