RETAIL TRADE; LEGISLATORS;

LEGISLATORS - COMPENSATION;

OLR Research Report


July 9, 2003

 

2003-R-0521

RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR LEGISLATORS

By: Mary M. Janicki, Assistant Director

You asked for a description of the employee benefits members of the General Assembly are entitled to after leaving office.

SUMMARY

Members of the General Assembly leaving office who have served for the five-year or 10-year vesting period, depending on when their service begins, are entitled to the same retirement benefits that state employees get with the same amount of service once they reach retirement age.

Like all state employees, legislators who serve for at least five years are eligible to receive a monthly pension check at age 65 (or age 62 if they terminate from state service at that age and have the five years’ service). Those who serve for at least 10 years receive health insurance benefits as well as a pension once they retire, which they can do when they reach age 55. Legislators participate in either Tier I, Tier II, or Tier IIA of the State Employees’ Retirement System, depending on the date their state service began. Thus, legislators with the same length of service could receive different monthly benefits, depending on when they began to serve in the General Assembly. The plans’ different benefits are calculated using a formula that takes into account service credit, average salary, age, and plan membership. Average salary is determined using the three highest-paid years of state service.

If a member had life insurance coverage before retiring, the state pays to continue a portion of the policy and he can elect to convert to the full amount of the group life insurance policy and pay the difference in the premium.

Details of these benefits are described on the State Comptroller’s Office website at http: //www. osc. state. ct. us/empret/index. html.

PENSION BENEFIT

Legislators benefit from the Connecticut State Employees’ Retirement System if they are elected and serve the number of years required by the different plans. Members of the legislature are eligible for benefits once they reach the age and have the years of service shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Major Provisions of Various State Retirement Plans

 

Tier I

Tier II

Tier IIA

Employee Cost

Contributory

2. 5% of salary below Social Security maximum and 5% above that limit

Noncontributory

Contributory

2. 5% of salary below Social Security maximum and 5% above that limit

Membership Eligibility

Began state service on or before 7/1/84, and elected to participate

Began state service on or after 7/2/84 and prior to 7/1/97

Began state service on or after 7/1/97

Vesting Period

10 years

5 years

5 years

Age of Retirement And Years of Qualifying Service—Normal Retirement

55 and 25 years

60 and 25 years

60 and 25 years

65 and 10 years

62 and 10 to 25 years

62 and 10 to 25 years

 

62 and 5 years actual

62 and 5 years actual

Age of Retirement And Years of Qualifying Service—Early Retirement

55 and between 10 and 25 years

55 and 10 years

55 and 10 years

HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS

Legislators who have at least 10 years of actual state service are eligible for health insurance coverage during their retirement for themselves and their spouses. Those who retire after July 1, 1997 pay a share of the insurance premium. (Individuals who retired before July 1, 1997 pay no premium for coverage in any medical plan. ) They can select from among several plans with varying restrictions and premium co-payments required for both the retiree and the retiree’s spouse. A description of the different plans is at http: //www. osc. state. ct. us/empret/healthin/2003hcplan/post1997retire. htm.

If a retired legislator qualifies for group medical coverage, he may also elect to purchase dental insurance under a state group insurance plan. The retiree pays 80% of the premium and the state pays the balance.

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