August 10, 2007
JUDICIAL MARSHALS AND THEIR STATE PENSION
By: John Moran, Principal Analyst
You asked for an explanation of the law that allows judicial marshals who are receiving a state pension for a previous state job, to work full-time for the state and still collect their pension. You also wanted to know why they are not allowed to add their judicial marshal service to their previous state service to enhance their pension.
The law allowing a limited number of judicial marshals to work for the state full-time while collecting a state pension is an exception from the rule that prohibits such “double dipping” related to state service. This exception only applies to those who meet the following narrow criteria:
1. were employed as a special deputy sheriff (the predecessor to judicial marshal) on July 1, 1999,
2. were employed as a judicial marshal on and after December 1, 2000, and
3. are collecting a state pension based on state service other than as a special deputy sheriff.
The prohibition on this group of judicial marshals using their current employment to enhance a retirement benefit is the same prohibition all state retirees face.
When PA 00-99, the sheriff system reform law, converted the special deputy sheriffs into judicial marshals, the legislature allowed them to continue to collect their state pension as long as they previously served as a special deputy sheriff. This was continuing a policy established several years earlier under PA 97-148 for the special deputy sheriffs who were collecting a retirement from previous state service.
The act allowed retired state employees to work for the state as special deputy sheriffs and receive both a state pay check and their state pension payment if they (1) were employed as a special deputy sheriff on July 1, 1999 and (2) were not employed as a special deputy sheriff prior to their retirement. Although it was enacted in 1997, the law was not effective until 1999.
Special deputies provide courthouse security and transport prisoners to and from jail to court. At the time (prior to the sheriff system reform) the special deputies in each county worked for the elected sheriff and were hired as a result of political patronage. As employees of the sheriff they were not overseen by the state.
The act also gave special deputies the right to collectively bargain and to be considered unclassified state employees. PA 97-148 made special deputies more like state employees than they were previously, but it kept them under the control of the county sheriff.
The floor debate on HB 5083 (which became PA 97-148) focused on giving the special deputies (1) the right to collectively bargain and (2) benefits such as health insurance coverage and vacation, sick, and other paid days off. The debate did not discuss whether it was appropriate to permit a limited group of special deputies to collect a state pension while continuing to work for the state for more than 120 days a year.
PA 00-99 laid the legal groundwork for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the position of county sheriff. As part of the overall reform of the sheriff system, the act placed the special deputies under the control of the judicial branch and gave them the new title of judicial marshal.
The law preserved the exception to the rule against collecting a state retirement while working full time for the state and added the requirement that a person be employed as a judicial marshal on or after December 1, 2000.
For those working as a judicial marshal on or after that date who do not already have a state pension, their judicial marshal time counts toward a pension.
OTHER EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE AGAINST RETIRED STATE EMPLOYEES WORKING FOR THE STATE
There are other exceptions to the rule against retired state employees working for the state, but they involve retirees working part-time.
Retired state employees can be reemployed by the state for up to 120 days a year without endangering their retirement benefits. If they work more than 120 days, they cannot receive further pension payments and must reimburse the state for the pension payments they received for the 120 days.
State legislators who are retirees are also allowed to collect a pension while serving in the legislature (CGS § 5-164a and § 5-192v). Retired members of the state employees retirement system's Tier I may also work as legislative sessional employees while collecting a state pension (CGS § 5-164a). Tier I members are those hired by the state before July 1, 1984.
RULE AGAINST “DOUBLE DIPPING”
The rule against collecting a state pension while working full time for the state exists in part to protect the integrity of the pension system. State pension benefits are based on how much an employee (or the state or both, depending on the tier) pay into the pension fund, how long the employee works, and the person's life expectancy at the time of retirement. When someone is still working none of these factors are set so it is impossible to calculate a fiscally responsible benefit.
This rule does not prevent a person with a pension from another employer (private sector, federal, or local government) from collecting that pension while working full-time for the state.