The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 25, 2008
Pension tension: More about the IRS retirement age rule

We're still looking into IRS Notice 2007-69, which redefines the "normal" retirement age and could keep most retired public employees from collecting benefits before turning 55, with a preferred retirement age of 62.

We've invited you to join our search for answers. We we have been gathering information, interviewing experts and asking questions that that you want answered. As the information has rolled in, we've put it on the blog for your inspection and comment.

It's becoming clear that the experts don't agree -- or won't talk -- about what the rule would mean to state government pensions when it takes effect in 2010.

The IRS has yet to call us back.

CalPERS wouldn't comment about its interpretation of the IRS notice. Spokeswoman Pat Macht referred the State Worker to ...

A group letter signed by more than a dozen state government, union and professional organizations. It predicts that the IRS regulation change means that "serious problems will be created for (pension) plans, sponsors and plan participants. This is particularly problematic where attainment of normal retirement age entitles participants to rights that are protected by constitutional guarantees." California is one such state.

Henderson, Nev., government relations specialist Santana Garcia, who wrote this memo thinks the rule changes would push back retirement for civil service workers across the country.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran this story based on the Garcia memo and followed it with an editorial that begins, "How ironic that taxpayers' new best friend in the politically impossible task of reforming public employee pensions is none other than the tax man himself."

Actuarial firm Gabriel, Roeder Smith & Co in its analysis said the rule changes are "unclear and potentially problematic" for public pension funds.

We've also received thoughtful analysis from state workers. We'll be sharing that here and in the story that we'll be writing.

And renowned pension expert Susan Mangiero of Pension Governance LLC is analyzing the notice. We expect to get her take in the next day or so. You can read Susan's insightful blog, Pension Risk Matters, by clicking here.

Click here to read earlier State Worker entries and your comments about IRS Notice 2007-69.

And if you haven't already, check out today's State Worker column about Gene Pixley, a state scientist who is still working full time at age 76.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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