2018 Approved Changes To The Participating Local District (PLD) Consolidated Plan
The MainePERS Board of Trustees recently approved changes to the PLD Consolidated Retirement Plan. Detailed information specific to the adopted changes can be found by clicking on the icons pictured below.
The changes adopted over the past couple of years were developed to strengthen this well-funded Plan against risks such as low-performing or volatile financial markets that can erode the funding; to incorporate recent legislation into the Consolidated Plan; and to make some technical language changes. Click here for information on the most recent proposed changes as of November 1, 2019.
The following overview summarizes recent changes to the rule that governs the PLD Consolidated Retirement Plan. The MainePERS Board of Trustees adopted these changes to protect the long-term funding of the PLD Plan by distributing market risk more evenly, and to limit the need to make further changes in the future.
Changes to contribution rates allow both members and employers to share in positive and negative risks such as investments returns. Contribution rates will be adjusted annually for both, replacing the current method where only employer rates change each year. Caps and minimums apply to both member and employer rates, maintaining sound Plan funding without uncontrolled increases or decreases.
Beginning July 1, 2019, total contribution rates may change year to year based on a split of approximately 58% to the employer, and 42% to the employee. Each of the 11 sub plans will have a different cap and minimum which form the aggregate Plan rate caps of 12.5% for employers and 9% for employees. Also beginning July 1, 2019, member contribution rates for members who participate in a so-called “regular plan” (i.e., plan AC, AN or BC) will be based on when plan participation commenced. For members who first joined the PLD Consolidated Plan on or after July 1, 2014, the member contribution rate will be slightly lower than the member contribution rate for those who joined the Plan prior to that date. This reduced rate reflects the fact that newer members have an older retirement age (i.e., 65) than other members (i.e., 60), and as a result, anticipated pension costs are lower.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
The retiree COLA cap based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) changed from 3% to 2.5%, applicable to COLAs issued in September 2018 and later. The retiree COLA becomes available after 24 months of retirement, instead of 12 months. This is applicable to those who retire on or after September 1, 2019. Reductions to future COLAs on a year-by-year basis may occur if severe market losses create costs to the Plan that exceed employer and member contribution caps. These temporary reductions remain in place until markets improve and investment gains return which may help avoid any COLA freezes.
Early retirement will remain available, but the early retirement subsidy is being eliminated for most members to avoid shifting the cost to other members and employers. The early retirement subsidy is created when the full age reduction factor is not applied to the benefit of a member who retires prior to reaching their normal retirement age of 55, 60 or 65. Beginning July 1, 2019, the age reduction factor will be based on the full actuarially calculated factor, up to 6.2% for each year of early retirement depending upon the actual retirement age.
Members retiring early from a plan that provides cost-of-living adjustments will now have an additional option to defer receiving cost-of-living adjustments until they reach their normal retirement age. This creates an actuarial reduction factor that is slightly less than the full actuarial reduction factor of up to 6.2% for each year of early retirement.
A limited group of members will continue to be eligible for the early retirement subsidy. Members that joined the Plan prior to July 1, 2014 with 20 or more years of creditable service under the PLD Consolidated Plan on July 1, 2019 will continue to be eligible for the 2.125% (approximate) per year reduction.
The new retire-rehire provisions apply to any retiree of the Plan who returns to work in a PLD Plan covered position. PLD employers who hire a retiree of the Plan must report these hires to MainePERS, regardless of which employer the member retired from.
- Continuing as a retiree
During the period that a retiree is re-employed, payments equal to the greater of 5% or the aggregate unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) rate of the Plan of the person’s earnable compensation must be remitted to MainePERS by the PLD.
- Important Note
These changes do not apply to retirees employed by a PLD on October 1, 2018 until the earlier of termination of employment or June 30, 2021. If a retiree in this category is still employed by a PLD on July 1, 2021 they will be subject to the UAL payment being submitted on their earnable compensation going forward.
Unused Sick and/or Vacation
For retirees with a retirement effective date on and after August 1, 2019, the ability to use accrued, unused vacation and sick leave towards service retirement benefits will be limited to members who have 20 or more years of creditable service under the Plan at retirement. For active members, the retirement effective date is the first of the month after termination of employment.
Disability retirees retain the ability to use accrued, unused vacation and sick leave towards retirement benefits regardless of years of creditable service under the Plan at the point of disability retirement.
Employer Withdrawal Liability
An employer that fully or partially withdraws from the Plan at a time when the Plan is underfunded must make a withdrawal liability payment. This payment covers the individual employer’s share of the Plan’s unfunded actuarial liability so not to pass that cost on to the remaining employers under the Plan.
Employer Resumption Fee
An employer that has withdrawn from participation and rejoins the Plan more than one time is no longer subject to a $250 fee.
Change of Service Retirement Benefit Plan or Plans
An employer that changes its service retirement plan(s) from a plan with COLA to a plan without COLA can do so on a prospective basis only. Existing members of the Plan on the effective date of the plan change must remain under the COLA plan, and the No-COLA plan is applicable to new hires only. This change is a clarification of existing plan provisions.
Qualification for a Special Service Retirement Benefit
A member who participates in a special service retirement plan, but who does not complete the qualifications for that plan is permitted to retire under a regular retirement plan if qualifications for that plan are met. This change is a clarification of existing plan provisions.