The Future of the Public Employee Retirement System
- Changes to PERS
- Update on PERS Litigation
- PERS Litigation Disclaimer
- Do you have questions about how recent PERS litigation impacts you?
- Are you a PERS retiree who has moved out of state?
- Have general questions about your individual PERS account?
In 2013, Oregon lawmakers made changes to PERS that will impact all current and future PERS retirees.In the 2013 regular session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 822, which affects the amount of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) payable to benefit recipients as of August 1, 2013, and in subsequent years. The bill also eliminated the SB 656 and HB 3349 benefits referred to by PERS as “tax remedy” benefits for recipients who do not pay Oregon state income taxes because they do not reside in Oregon.
Additionally, legislators reconvened in the fall of 2013 for a special session to pass a series of bills (aka the so-called “Grand Bargain). This included, Senate Bill 861: This bill included another cut to cost-of-living adjustments for current and future retirees - including low wage workers and low income seniors. It's important to remember that Oregon educators, frontline workers and retirees had already been forced to sacrifice $800 million of their hard-earned retirement. The bill, which passed with a one-vote margin, deepens the impact.
Both Senate Bill 822 and Senate Bill 861 contained a provision allowing persons who are adversely affected to request direct review by the Oregon Supreme Court within 60 days after the effective dates of the Acts.
OEA made clear from the beginning that we believe both bills to be unconstitutional. We have joined with a coalition to file a challenge to those parts of the bill which we believe violate PERS members’ rights.
The PERS Coalition (OEA and its labor coalition partners) are challenging these cuts to public employees through the Moro case which was filed on behalf of seven retirees (including two out of state retirees) and five active PERS members. Actuarial estimates of the impact of the legislation on these PERS members indicates a range of 6.9% to as much as 22.5% loss of their projected benefits over their lifetime. Therefore, OEA members need to recognize that the impact of the legislation is significant. Below is some general information about the litigation provided by the PERS Coalition attorneys.
The challenge alleges that PERS members have a contract right and a property interest in their COLAs and benefits provided by chapter 796, Oregon Laws 1991 (SB 656). The changes made by Senate Bills 822 and 861 constitute an impairment of contract under the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions, a taking of property without proper compensation, and a breach of contract.
The challenge also requested that, as allowed under the bills, the Oregon Supreme Court appoint a Special Master to hold an evidentiary hearing and make recommendations of fact. The court appointed Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bushong to serve as the Special Master. An evidentiary hearing was held before Judge Bushong on April 2-3, 2014. The deadline for Judge Bushong to submit his factual findings to the Oregon Supreme Court is April 30, 2014. Once the court receives those findings, it will schedule a deadline for the parties to submit their legal briefs. Once briefing is complete, the court will hold an oral argument.
You can find periodic updates to the litigation at: http://bennetthartman.com/pers.php5
The PERS Litigation website was prepared to provide general information about the PERS cases Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan, LLP is handling on behalf of individual members of public sector labor unions participating in the PERS Coalition, a group organized to protect the pension interests of their members. This website does not, and is not intended to, provide legal advice. Neither transmission nor receipt of information contained in this website will create an attorney-client relationship, and Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan, LLP does not represent you based on your visit or review of this website.
Given the great number of PERS participants impacted by PERS litigation, we cannot respond to individual questions about PERS issues or about how current litigation may impact individual rights. Finally and most importantly, if you have questions about your individual rights or need legal advice we strongly urge you to contact an attorney who can review your personal issues and circumstances and provide advice about your legal rights. If you do not have an attorney you can call the Oregon State Bar’s referral service (503) 684-3763, which can suggest an attorney in your area.
Recently, the Oregon Legislation made changes to PERS that impact out-of-state retirees. Please go here for more detail. http://www.oregon.gov/pers/docs/news/faq_tax_remedy_elimination.pdf
- Go here for general information the Public Employee Retirement System.
- If you are a PERS member (either currently retired or still working), go here to information and resources for PERS members (including FAQs, educational sessions, request for data verification, and forms and publications).
- To access your individual PERS account online, go here (if you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a new online account).
If you are having an issue with your PERS account that requires an advocate, please contact your personal attorney or retirement advisor.