CSAC Bulletin Article

CalPERS Decision Upcoming on Retired Annuitant Decision – County Comments Urged

October 8, 2020

At their November meeting, the CalPERS Board will consider adopting rule changes for retired annuitants who return to work. Retirees collecting a pension may return to work, so long as the meet specific requirements, which include limits on the amount of pay they may receive and the number of hours an annuitant may work in a 12-month period.

Returning to work is not uncommon and has been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way for local governments to quickly staff up with a skilled workforce. In fact, earlier this year, in recognition of this need, Governor Newsom signed an executive order allowing state and local agencies to expand their use of retired annuitants.

The precedent in question results from the recent case Appeal Regarding Post Retirement Employment of DUDLEY J. LANG. In 2012, Dudley Lang, the retired Controller for the City of Industry, returned to his former job. He worked over the 960-hour limit while collecting about $66,000 in pension payments, which CalPERS then directed him to pay back. CalPERS attorneys now want to use the case to set precedent that retired annuitants have the responsibility to make sure their post-retirement employment is legal, and that CalPERS may recoup all pension money that was paid improperly to a retired annuitant. Importantly, adopting this case as a precedent would get rid of the current three-year statute of limitations for recoveries of overpayment.

The adoption of the Lang precedent would significantly increase the financial liability of workers and employers who are trying to navigate complicated regulations. CSAC is opposed to this decision by the CalPERS Board and encourages counties that utilize retired annuitants to consider submitting a comments letter to CalPERS by October 23, 2020. 

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