It came as quite a shock to 57 Glenn County retirees to receive a letter from PERS informing them that their retirement benefits were being paid at an incorrect, inflated rate and that not only would their monthly pension check be reduced but that they would have to pay back the alleged overpayment.
Reductions in monthly pension checks ranged up to hundreds of dollars per month. Back payment ranged up to the tens of thousands.
A PERS audit had revealed that some types of "special compensation" such as longenvity pay and certain certificate/education pay had apparently been double reported to PERS when the retirees were active employees.
Upon hearing about this fiasco, UPEC Representative Barbara Ramey swung into action. First, Barbara has been working tirelessly through retiree contacts, news and social media to assemble the group of retirees as the County has declined to provide contact information. Barbara quickly realized that there was a time-sensitive appeal deadline for the retirees to file individual appeals to PERS and requested approval from the UPEC Board to hire a lawyer to help advocate for the retirees. The approval was granted and Attorney Dan Thompson has been assisting retirees with filing their appeals to PERS.
Barbara has reached out to Senator Jim Nielson and Assemblyman James Gallagher for assistrance to find a legislative fix if necesary. Both legislators have been receptive as everyone realizes this is not the retirees fault. Retired UPEC Board member Larry Olsen, also a Glenn County retiree, is involved at the local level advocating for all the affected retirees.
PERS has accepted the appeals and put the matter on hold pending further review. The short lesson here is that if a mistake is made, you may pay the price. It is worth a very close look at what your employer is reporting to PERS to make sure you not only are going to receive what you are due but that an overpayment is not being made.