Benefits director deserves pat on back

Posted: Thursday, November 08, 2007

I would like to express my gratitude to the new Director of Retirement and Benefits Pat Shier and his staff for the expeditious manner in which they resolved inequities in the Retiree Optional Life Insurance Program.

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This program is funded by the premiums paid by retirees, and there are no state funds involved. For a number of years, the premiums have been higher than necessary to keep the fund solvent, and as a result, the retirees were paying higher premiums than needed. Over the years, retirees dropped the program because they could no longer afford it.

The past director and a deputy commissioner had promised the Public Employees' Retirement System Board in November 2005 to review the funding status of the program in 2006 and make adjustments for 2007. This they did not do.

In July 2007, I wrote to Shier outlining my concerns. He called me and said he was somewhat aware of the problem and his staff were reviewing the funding status.

After much hard work by Shier and his staff, the retirees will receive a 50-percent reduction in premiums on Jan. 1. Other people or groups may try to take credit for the adjustment in premiums, but it was Shier and his staff who deserve the credit.

Pat Wellington

Public Employees' Retirement System Board member

Utopia, Texas

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