OPERS Life Expectancy Tables Bill Heads to House Floor

February 21, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A compromise bill in the Oregon state House requiring the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) to swap out its obsolete life-expectancy tables by July 1 has sailed through committee and onto the House floor.

Under the bill approved by the House PERS Committee on an 8 to 1 tally, eligible workers could retire before the change without taking a hit on the amount of their pension benefits, according to a news report in the (Oregon) Statesman Journal.

HB 2004 includes a “look back” provision to make sure that pensions won’t fall below the level accrued by June 30, before the new tables take effect. When workers leave government service after that, PERS will “look back” to see if their June 30, 2003, accounts would have produced a better pension. Workers retire at whichever amount is higher.

State employee unions had bitterly complained that earlier proposals to kick in the new tables January 1 would take too much out of workers’ pensions and wouldn’t allow those interested in getting out before the change enough time to do so.   House PERS Committee Chairman Tim Knopp is credited with hammering out an agreement for the compromise July 1 date in the bill.

PERS has been using 1978 mortality tables to set pensions when workers retire, which makes pension checks larger than warranted. That has proven a major problem for the ailing pension system.