The interim Pensions Management and Oversight Committee (PMOC) met twice between the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions. Part of its charge – coming out of the 2023 Indiana General Assembly – was to analyze annualized COLAs at 0.5%, up to 2%, for all pensions with Supplemental Reserve Accounts (SRAs). The data, presented by INPRS chief actuary Andy Blough during the first meeting, showed just how expensive such an endeavor would be.
Seeing the cost implications for just a 1% COLA for all retirees, and knowing most current retirees prefer a 13th check, PMOC’s 2023 final report, presented and approved on October 24, 2023, “recommended the consideration of legislation to do the following, subject to the budget process:
a. Provide an annual thirteenth check, paid from the supplemental reserve accounts, to certain members of the public employees' retirement fund, Indiana state teachers' retirement fund, legislators' defined benefit plan, and EG&C plan who retire before a specified date (to be determined); and
b. Provide an annual COLA, paid from the supplemental reserve accounts, to certain members of the public employees' retirement fund, Indiana state teachers' retirement fund, legislators' defined benefit plan, and EG&C plan who retire after a specified date (to be determined).”
Essentially, if approved in 2025, older retirees will receive a 13th check and newer retirees will get a COLA – each year, automatically. The scenario evaluated involved 13th checks based on years of service, indexed to 2% inflation, and a 1% COLA.
RIPEA offered tentative support for a plan that continues the 13th check for current retirees, knowing the Senate wants to move to a COLA.
A video recording of the meeting is posted here. (Click on the dropdown next to the word Meetings to select the Oct. 24 option to play. The INPRS presentation regarding a hybrid 13th check-COLA model begins around 1:45. RIPEA testimony begins around 1:59.)
9/21/23 - The Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight (PMOC) met on September 20, 2023 to provide an update on all INPRS-managed funds and deliver an actuarial report regarding the cost of COLAs ranging from 0.5% to 2.0% for the pensions that receive ad hoc benefit increases through the Supplemental Reserve Accounts (SRAs), including PERF.
Slides from the INPRS Update, Stress Test and SRA presentations can be found here.
A video recording of the meeting is posted here. (Click on the dropdown next to the word Meetings to select the Sept. 20 option to play.)
4/28/23 - NO 13th CHECK - The General Assembly adjourned sine die at 2:46 a.m. Indianapolis time on April 28, 2023. Neither a 13th check nor a COLA for PERF retirees was included in the budget or other bills signed into law this session. Despite having seemingly strong support from senators throughout the legislative session for the 13th check approved by the House, it was ultimately excluded from the Senate version of the budget and never made its way back into a bill before the legislature wrapped. RIPEA will sit down with legislators in the coming months to better understand why Senate Republican leadership opposed passage of the bill and to discuss ways to secure benefit enhancements going forward. Rep. Bob Cherry, who authored the 13th check bill, stated during his remarks prior to sine die that a 13th check would be the first bill he would file in 2024. RIPEA looks forward to working with Cherry and other champions for PERF retirees to achieve our shared goals.
We encourage members to write to your legislators to express thanks to all House members, especially Rep. Cherry and co-author Rep. Mike Karickhoff, as well as Senate Democrats. You can also share any concerns you may have about the General Assembly’s failure to pass a 13th check with Senate Republican leadership, including the Senate Appropriations Committee, which did not hear the 13th check bill in committee nor include the 13th check as part of the budget.
RIPEA acknowledges that INPRS was directed in the budget to study the impacts of providing a 0.5% annual COLA, but believes a 13th check should have been approved this year to provide support while the study is being performed, instead of conducting it in lieu of a 13th check in 2023.
See our press release.
4/27/23 - Budget is not final, but no 13th check or COLA for PERF retirees are included in the deal announced yesterday.
4/26/23 - The 13th check is facing opposition in the Senate and is at risk of not being included in the budget for the next two years.
You can help save the 13th check for PERF retirees who have spent a lifetime in public service by making a quick call about the state budget. We urge you to call your State Senator now and tell them how approving a 13th check is vital to quality of life for PERF members.
Find your legislators here.
4/19/23 - RIPEA continues to work with legislators focused on getting a 13th check for retirees for this year and next year. HB1028, the 13th check bill, died in the Senate Appropriations Committee, due to not being called for a hearing by the committee deadline. The 13th check was also left out of the Senate version of the budget.
Since the House/Ways & Means Committee approved the spending for the 13th check, and the budget bill originated in the House, the 13th check can still be approved. However, having to get the language into the budget bill, instead of having a standalone 13th check bill adopted by the Senate deadline yesterday (4/18/23), also means RIPEA will be working on this policy item until the end of the legislative session next week, since it’ll be part of conference committee negotiations between the House and Senate for the budget bill, HB 1001.
Anticipating this need, RIPEA testified on HB 1001 before Senate Appropriations on March 30, 2023.
If you know your state senator, please touch base with them to confirm their support for the 13th check. You are welcome to share any feedback you receive from legislators by emailing email@example.com or calling our office (317-789-0244).
The legislature is required to end the 2023 legislative session by April 29, 2023. It is expected that the 2023 session will wrap by Thursday, April 27, 2023.
2/15/23 - HB 1028, 13th check bill with a $50.00 increase from the last 13th check paid in 2020, passed unanimously by the House on February 14, 2023. The bill was referred to the Senate on February 15. The Senate can take action on the House bill as soon as the week of March 6. You can now thank your State Representative for their support and urge your State Senator to also support HB 1028.
The amounts of the 13th check in HB 1028 are:
5-10 years of service – disability $200.00
10-20 years of service $325.00
20-30 years of service $425.00
30 years of service $500.00
2023 Legislative Report
Your RIPEA Board of Directors voted unanimously to ask the 2023 Legislature for a 13th check with a $50 increase in each bracket. Rep. Bob Cherry is the author of HB 1028, which contains the 13th check with a $50 increase, and Rep. Mike Karickhoff is the co-author.
RIPEA is grateful to Rep. Karickhoff for his tireless efforts in passing HB 1227 out of the House in 2021. The bill contained a 13th check with a $50 increase. As a result of Rep. Karickhoff’s efforts, the bill passed the House with one dissenting vote. Unfortunately, the bill died in the Senate; as a result, PERF retirees received no increase in retirement income in 2021.
We encourage all members to contact their legislator(s) to support HB 1028. You will see in the newsletter a set of talking points that may help you in this effort.
In contacting your legislator(s) please do the following: personalize your comments to reflect how the loss of the 13th check in 2021 affected you; be courteous and respectful to your legislator(s).
RIPEA appreciates all your efforts.
Talking Points on H.B. 1028
- No 13th check in 2021 or 2022.
- Last increase in 13th check was 2011.
- PERF retirees received a 13th check in 28 of the last 32 years.
- The cost of a 13th check with a $50 increase, as calculated by the Legislative Services Agency in 2021, was $67.3 million and the cost of the 1% COLA was $192 million.
- Based on input from PERF retirees:
- The majority of RIPEA members prefer a 13th check.
- Most retirees that contact our office tell us they use the 13th check to pay outstanding bills, such as personal property tax, medical bills, home repair, etc.
- The monthly defined benefit for 9,193 PERF retirees is $200 or less.*
- The average monthly defined benefit is $693.*
- 71% of PERF retirees' monthly benefit is less than $800.*
Source – PERF 2020 Valuation Report
The Indiana Legislature adjourned Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
No 13th check again in 2022.
The state budget did not contain funding to continue the 13th check in 2021 or 2022. Instead, the budget funded a 1% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that took effect beginning January 1, 2022. This outcome was unexpected, given the fact that earlier in the legislative session, the Indiana House of Representatives not only funded the 13th check in its version of the budget but passed HB 1227 giving retirees an additional $50 in their 13th check. The Indiana Senate’s opposition to the 13th check and vote to eliminate the 13th check and approve a 1% COLA beginning January 1, 2022 had a devasting impact for the majority of PERF retirees.
We are not alone in our disappointment with the elimination of the 13th check. I have already met with representatives of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. They, too, are very concerned about the loss of the 13th check and want to work with us to try to find a way to get the 13th check reinstated as quickly as possible.
The 13th check you would have received if HB 1227 became law includes:
10-20 years of PERF service $325.00
20-30 years of PERF service $425.00
30+ years of PERF service $500.00
Included in this article is a template we suggest you use in writing a personal letter to your Legislators. If we are to have any chance to reinstate the 13th check, it is absolutely essential that your Legislators hear from you. Please use this template to tell a story about yourself – how long you worked as a public employee. Tell them how much you receive in benefits. Then explain how much your benefits have been reduced because of a 1% COLA substitution for the 13th check. If Legislators do not hear from you, they will simply assume that public employees are satisfied with the COLA instead of the 13th check.
If you don’t know the name of your State Senator or State Representative visit www.iga.in.gov . Click on “Find your Legislator” and enter your address. You may also call your County Clerk.
If we are to succeed, we need your help to do so. Please take a few minutes to write the letter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the RIPEA office for assistance.
May __, 2021
Dear Representative/Senator, Last Name;
My name is __________________, and I am a retired PERF employee
with_____years of public service who resides in your district.
State, why you oppose the Senate’s decision to eliminate this year’s 13th check.
Tell them how much less you’re receiving in benefits because of a 1% COLA
substitution for the 13th check.
Include a personal story. Tell you representative why the issue is important to
you and how it affects you, your family members, and PERF retirees.
Sign your name
Print your name
Your Street Address
Your City, State, Zip Code