An Agency's Guide to Employee Retirement

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Public sector pensions are increasingly in the spotlight. News stories, magazine articles, court cases, and even ballot initiatives, all discussing the state of public sector pensions – Are they too lucrative? Are they sustainable? Are defined benefits a good idea? All questions that are being debated in the court of public opinion, especially as public agencies struggle with increasing deficits and decreasing revenues. How to address these increasing costs can be a workbook in and itself. However, before an agency can look at making changes to benefits, it needs to understand the dynamics of a pension system and some of the unique legal issues involving pension benefits.

This workbook discusses the basics of participating in pension plans administered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System ("PERS" or "CalPERS") and pension systems established under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 ("CERL" or "'37 Act"). Included are discussions on who can participate in these pension plans, how benefits are calculated, disability retirements, and terminating pension benefits.

Although this workbook discusses some of the most common issues that come up when discussing pension issues, it is not intended as a comprehensive treatise in this area. Given the complex nature of pension laws and the unique nature of individual benefits and systems, agencies should consult with legal counsel before making any changes to benefits or benefit-administration.

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