CalPERS retirees must pay for county error despite law


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The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, headquarters buildings are pictured Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in downtown Sacramento.

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A group of Glenn County retirees will have to repay part of their pensions due to an error made by their former employer after the CalPERS board of directors refused to intervene on Wednesday.

Eighteen retirees had sought to keep their full pensions, citing a new state law aimed at protecting retirees from surprise cuts caused by their employers.

Instead, the law will protect Northern California County from having to repay a portion of overpayments.

Senate Bill 278which went into effect in January, targeted CalPERS’ longstanding practice of cutting retiree pensions and collecting three years of overpayments when auditors identify errors that improperly inflated retiree pensions.

But the law only applies to mistakes that caused employees to make extra contributions for their pensions, which didn’t happen in Glenn County, Administrative Judge Wim van Rooyen said in a ruling. of June. Glenn County’s error was to misreport pensionable income to the California Public Employees Retirement System So while the error inflated retirees’ pensions, it did not require them to pay extra while they worked.

Separately, Glenn County cited the law in its own documents, saying the new law’s reference to a three-year statute of limitations meant the county could not be held liable for overpayments from a year ago. more than three years.

CalPERS has been collecting these old overpayments from employers since 2017. CalPERS attorneys said they disagreed with the judge’s ruling on the three-year limit for employers.

Wednesday, the CalPERS board adopted the judge’s decisionas recommended by his lawyers.

CalPERS attorneys, via the system’s press office, did not respond to questions about whether the system will pursue overpayments beyond three years in the future.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. It covers taxes, pensions, unions, state expenses, and the California government. A native of Montana, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.

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