Jan 24, 2013

Can you tell me about double dipping?

I keep reading about public officials "double-dipping." Can you tell me exactly what that is and why there seems to be so many governement employees doing it? I'm also wondering if the average Joe, the kind of guy who works in the private sector, can double-dip after he retires and starts collecting Social Security benefits.

First, let me say I am in no way a retirement or pension expert. But, I can provide you with some basic information about public employee retirement and what's commonly referred to as "double dipping"

Double dipping is when a public employee who has retired and is collecting his or her full pension is then rehired and collects his or her regular salary and benefits AND public pension at the same time.

This can happen a variety of ways, but the way most people refer to "double dipping" is when someone — usually in a high-level position — simply submits the correct paperwork to retire and is immediately re-hired at the same agency without ever really leaving the job.

It's retirement "on paper" to start the pension benefits, but the public employee just keeps on working the same job at the same wage.

Why public employees retire and keep working has to do with a few things. One is that they can retire and start collection their pension much earlier than workers in the private sector.

There are different permitted retirement ages for different types of workers (teachers, law enforcement, ect.)

For employees in the Ohio School Retirement System, here is the following edibility table:

A member who joins SERS before May 14, 2008 will be eligible for a guaranteed lifetime monthly pension with the following combinations of age and service credit.
    •    5 years of service credit at age 60; or
    •    25 years of service credit at age 55; or
    •    30 years of service credit at any age.

Members who join SERS on or after May 14, 2008 will be eligible for a guaranteed lifetime monthly pension with the following combinations:
    •    10 years of service credit at age 62; or
    •    25 years of service credit at age 60; or
    •    30 years of service credit at age 55.

Other Ohio public employees have the same eligibility requirements as the pre-2008 teachers retirement eligibility.

Law enforcement officers with at least 25 years of service may file for retirement benefits at age 48 or older. This can include four to five years of military service.

As you can see, these folks can potentially start collecting benefits quite young. A public employee who starts working at age 22 could potentially retire with full benefits at age 52 when he or she is still willing and able to work.

Please note that while it's controversial, there is nothing illegal about public employees taking their pension and continuing to work, so many make the choice to do just that. Whether or not you think they should be able to do this is a matter of opinion.

In the public sector, of course, workers can't retire until age 66 or 67 (depending on when they were born) for full benefits. Those who take early retirement at age 62 pay a 25 percent penalty on their benefits.

Workers who have reached full retirement age can indeed continue to work and receive their full benefits. But, by the time most people are 67, they don't want to continue to work unless they have to. According to the Social Security Administration, social security benefits usually only cover about 40 percent of the average person's expenses. If you haven't saved additional money in a retirement account, you may have to continue to work or learn to live very frugally off your social security benefits.

This may be the longest Mailbag answer ever, but I hope it helps explain things. Because of the sensitive nature of this issue I included links to where I got my information.
 

The Mailbag is a daily feature on SanduskyRegister.com. Every weekday at noon, we will post one question-and-answer from a resident. To ask a question, send a letter to The Mailbag at 314 W. Market St., or e-mail mailbag@sanduskyregister.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. “John from Decatur Street."

Comments

2fast4u2

It's kind of like Roch Hammond working for Erie County and drawing his salary and benefits then having kids repaint the County vehicles through Roch Hammond who then has the County add the additional hours to his salary and overtime benefits through the county.

Simple Enough II

Really, you would think that would make for a goos investigative story for say a "Newspaper"?!

Julie R.

Who is Roch Hammond? Any relation to the former auditor Jude Hammond?

Julie R.

You mean to say there's another Hammond that works for the county? Is that one a Huronite, too? If so, I sure hope he doesn't have a county job that gives him any power or anything --- like authorizing fraudulent transfers of property under fraud documents prepared by idiot attorneys causing serious defects in the titles.

my oh my

We as public employees have earned these benefits due to the time we have given as public servants...It's legal to double dip as some may put it. We have to retire/resign from current position when eligible and then wait at least (2) weeks and then return if employer will rehire us at a different paygrade.

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