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News Release: RPEA Advocates for Support of Retirees on at the Joint Committees Hearing on Workforce Development 

Including “Catch up” Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Current Eligible Retirees 

An End to Age Discrimination in Skilled Nursing Facilities Care; And 

Restoration of Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) Surcharge Reimbursement 

Jan. 30, 2024 – The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA), which promotes and protects the interests of the nearly 500,000 retired state and local municipal employees in the State Retirement System, testified today before the Joint Fiscal Committees on Workforce Development.  

Click here to read RPEA’s full testimony. 

RPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell urged the legislature to consider provisions that support state and local government retirees, including: 

  • Increasing the Pension Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): RPEA’s bill (S.6307/ A.7023) contains a “catch-up” provision to compensate for no change in the COLA formula for the past 23 years and increases the pension earnings threshold from $18,000 to $21,000. The major beneficiaries of this bill would be older retirees with smaller pensions since salaries were much lower 20-30 years ago. It is important to note:  24% of retirees receive a pension under $10,000, and 43% receive a pension under $20,000. 
  • Ending Age Discrimination by Providing Equity in Skilled Nursing Facilities Care: Ensure NYSHIP Empire Plan Medicare-primary retirees receive benefits equal to those that non-Medicare-primary retirees receive in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). Under the Empire Plan, benefits are drastically reduced upon becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65. Medicare-primary retirees are allowed only 20 days of SNF coverage with a three-day prior hospital requirement compared with active Empire Plan enrollees, who have access to 120 days of coverage with no prior hospitalization requirement–a clear inequity of care. There is no explanation for this disparity in coverage, and the intent from the start, which was decades ago, was for NYSHIP to provide full coverage for retirees. A timeline and fact sheet on this issue can be downloaded here. 
  • Restoring the IRMAA Reimbursement: The Governor has proposed the elimination of the Medicare Part B IRMAA (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount) surcharge reimbursement. Certain NYSHIP retirees pay this surcharge monthly and are reimbursed in the following year. Chapter 602 of the Laws of 1966 created Section 167-a of the Civil Service Law to offset this additional cost to the enrollee, so that the enrollee’s cost for their NYSHIP health insurance premium would not be impacted. RPEA is urging that the elimination of the surcharge reimbursement be restored by the Legislature. 

“Public service employees deserve to have the earned benefits they are promised in retirement protected,” saidRPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell. “RPEA urges Gov. Hochul and the State Legislature to consider these proposals when the budget is adopted so retirees who dedicated their lives to public service and are now living on fixed incomes, can lead a quality retirement without diminished benefits.” 

Nearly 80% of public employer retirees remain New York State residents, driving $12 billion into the state’s economy, and according to the State Comptroller, public sector retirees’ annual spending is responsible for the creation of roughly 75,000 jobs. 

The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA) represents the interests of nearly 500,000 retirees, and their spouses and beneficiaries, from New York state and local governments, school districts, and public authorities. Learn more at: 

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