Mass. Lawmakers Agree on Minimum State Retirement Age

November 15, 2011 ( - Massachusetts State House and Senate negotiators finalized a deal on Monday night to increase the minimum state retirement age to 60 as part of a broad overhaul of the state pension system.

According to the Patriot Ledger, the final legislation adopted the Senate’s proposal to boost the minimum retirement from 55 to 60, discarding a House proposal for a smaller increase to 57 in its initial version of the bill (see MA House Passes Pension Bill Raising Retirement Age).  

The Patriot Ledger reports that several House amendments were included in the bill, including the establishment of a minimum pension of $15,000 for state workers who have spent 25 years in state government. The bill also includes the first increase in the base salary on which cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) are calculated, raising the COLA base from $12,000 to $13,000 for state workers.

Citing the fact that some municipalities that have gone beyond $13,000 on their own and concern that others might interpret the increase as an unfunded mandate on local pension system, House and Senate leaders opted against applying the COLA adjustment to city and town workers.

The compromise bill requires that employees who move into a new job that carries a greater pension benefit late in their career hold that position for at least a year before becoming eligible for a larger pension check. The bill also maintained another “anti-spiking” provision limiting the allowable annual increase in pensionable earnings to no more than 7% unless the raise is for a legitimate promotion.

In addition, the House and Senate are prepared to adopt a provision banning an employee from collecting a pension on income that they did not report.

The bill proposes reviews of retiree health insurance benefits and disability retirements. 

Proponents say the pension system overhaul will save more than $5 billion over the next 30 years.