Ohio Teachers Pension Board OKs One-Time, 3% COLA Increase
Columbus Dispatch (OH)
The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio board approved a one-time, 3% cost of living adjustment for eligible retirees starting July 1.
Retirees who retired before July 1, 2018 will receive the boost on the anniversary of their retirements. It'll be 3% of their base pension check.
Under the current system, teachers can retire at any age after 34 years of service, but in 2026 the requirement was scheduled to be 60 years old and 35 years of service. The Ohio STRS board eliminated the 60 years old requirement.
It marks the first improvements to benefits for Ohio's second-largest public pension system after several years of austerity measures. From 2013 to 2017, the pension fund cut the annual cost of living adjustments until it finally eliminated them altogether.
Teacher Julie Sellers and retiree Elizabeth Jones said in a written, joint statement that "A one-time COLA is a step in the right direction, but falls short of what STRS retirees need and deserve. Likewise, elimination of the age threshold for full retirement benefits is a positive change but the result is that it's still harder to retire today than it was 10 years ago."
STRS said reforms made in 2012 and strong investment returns mean the system can afford to make the benefit improvements.
STRS has roughly $98 billion invested on behalf of 500,000 Ohioans. Public employees in Ohio do not participate in Social Security so the retirement systems are their main pension resource.
Collectively, the state's five pension funds hold more than $218 billion invested for 675,000 government employees, 1.1 million inactive members and 485,000 beneficiaries.