The decision by the three-judge panel overturns a lower court decision that would have meant $1.2 million in retroactively paid pension benefits for the 150 to 200 county employees who were rehired after supervisors increased pension benefits in 2002.
According to the news report, San Diego county supervisors approved the pension increase to keep benefits competitive with private sector and other governments.
That meant that employees retiring before 2002 would get the lower pension benefits and those still working and future hires would be entitled to the newer higher benefits.
Employees who left the county before March 8, 2002 returned to employment and argued that all of their years of employment should be applied toward the enhanced benefits package approved in 2002.
According to the news report, the returning employees essentially have a split retirement where their pre-2002 service is calculated under the old benefit structure and their post-2002 service is calculated under the newer benefit structure. This means that all those retiring after the 2002 cutoff with no break in service receive the enhanced retirement benefits for their entire county career.
The San Diego County Retired Employees Association sued the county in April 2005 after receiving complaints from returning employees.