Judge Approves R.I. Pension Settlement

The settlement resolves six of nine lawsuits against the state.

A proposed settlement to resolve litigation over Rhode Island’s public pension system reform was approved by a judge.

The Associated Press reports that Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter overruled objections to the settlement, putting an end to nearly all the lawsuits by public-sector unions and retirees against the state over the 2011 reform. Lawmakers must also approve the settlement.              

The terms of the settlement include:

  • Two one-time $500 stipends to current retirees, with the first payment a month after enactment and the second paid a year later;
  • A once-every-four-years increase in the pensions paid to current retirees on their first $30,000 in retirement benefits, as opposed to the first $25,000; and
  • A tweak in the retirement age, to allow workers to retire with full benefits at age 65 after 30 years of service; age 64, 31 years; age 63, 32 years; and age 62, 33 years.

Rhode Island’s pension reform was passed in November 2011, and it included, among other things, a suspension of cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees, with reinstatement depending on the financial improvements of the retirement system. The reform sparked several lawsuits by both unions and retirees.