The OPERS staff has prepared this summary of 2011 pension legislation for our members. There were no bills passed in the Legislature that would affect active members. The bills only affect future new employees of OPERS-participating agencies, or future members of the judicial retirement system (URSJJ).
"Pension reform" has been a topic of much interest in the state and local media in 2011. As a result of this coverage, we have received numerous phone calls from concerned active members asking whether the retirement benefits they currently have could be changed as a result of the bills summarized below.
Legislators have consistently advised OPERS staff that there are no plans to change benefits for current members of OPERS or URSJJ. However, there was a bill that could have a potential impact on retirees. This legislation concerns how the Legislature considers Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) and how they are funded.
Senate Bill 794
Changes to Retirement Age Requirements and Changes to Participation by Elected Officials
The retirement age for all OPERS members hired on or after November 1, 2011, was increased to age 65. Members hired on or after November 1, 2011, must also be at least age 60 to retire with 90 points. These members may retire with full, unreduced benefits from OPERS when the sum of their age and years of service in OPERS equals 90 or more and they are at least 60 years of age.
The vesting period for elected officials first elected on or after November 1, 2011, was increased to eight years of elected or appointed service. The retirement age for newly elected officials was increased to age 65 with eight years of elected or appointed service, or age 62 with 10 years of elected or appointed service. Newly elected officials will also contribute at the same rate and have their benefits calculated using the same computation factor as other state and local government employees.
Senate Bill 840
Clarification on Administrative Hearings and Appeals
Existing law requires suits against OPERS be brought in Oklahoma County. SB 840 provides clarification on appeals to administrative decisions by the OPERS Board. This bill brings the OPERS hearing procedures in line with the Administrative Procedures Act including the appointment of hearing examiners.
House Bill 1010
Changes to Retirement Age Requirements for Judicial Members
The retirement age for judges whose judicial service begins on or after January 1, 2012, has increased to age 67 (previously age 65) with eight years of judicial service, or age 62 (previously age 60) with 10 years of service. This bill becomes effective January 1, 2012.
House Bill 2132
Changes to Funding of Cost of Living Adjustments
Cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for retired OPERS members must be passed by the Legislature. COLAs are no longer considered “non-fiscal retirement bills” in the Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuarial Analysis Act. This means COLAs must now be funded by the Legislature before they can be passed into law. This bill became effective August 25, 2011.
House Bill 2177
State Voluntary Buyout Offer Extension
In May 2010, the State Legislature created the Voluntary Buyout Reimbursement Revolving Fund to provide budget relief to state agencies and provide reimbursement to state agencies that offered voluntary buy-out benefits to retirement-eligible employees. The deadline for state agencies to apply for these funds was originally June 30, 2011. HB 2177 extended the deadline for application to June 30, 2012.