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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

States Look To Increase Retirement Age, Change Benefits For State Workers

Across the country, state retirement pension funds are facing a $1 trillion shortfall, and that has many lawmakers looking to rewrite those retirement plans.

This year, 14 states increased the retirement age. For example, in Massachusetts, the State Senate has already voted to raise the minimum age from 55 to 60 and the age for full retirement benefits from 65 to 67.

Sixteen states also voted to change the rules this year, so that new, and in some cases current, state workers will have to chip in more for their pensions.

And some states have already moved from a defined benefit pension, where workers are guaranteed a monthly check for life, to a 401-K program, which is much less generous, and transfers the risk from the state to the worker.

As Chris Christoff, reporter for Bloomberg News puts it, “The only thing guaranteed about 401-K programs is how much a worker puts into it, not how much money they get out of it.”


  • Chris Christoff, Bloomberg News state house bureau, Lansing, Michigan

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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