Public employees of the Bemidji School District who are 62 years old or older may now ease into retirement under a new Phased Retirement Plan.
The plan was approved by the Bemidji School Board Friday, July 28, at a special meeting.
Legislation passed in 2009 allowing Public Employee Retirement Association members who are 62 or older the option to begin receiving PERA pensions through a Phased Retirement option.
"There are 15 employees right now who are potentially eligible for this plan," said Jordan Hickman, director of Human Resources.
Normally, in order to receive a pension, members formally terminate employment and have no prior agreement to be reemployed at a later date. A minimum 30-day break in public service (paid or unpaid) is required if a member does return to work for a PERA-covered employer.
In addition, members who return to PERA-covered employment are subject to limited earnings if they are under Social Security's normal retirement age. If a person exceeds the limits, it often results in a reduction of the PERA pensions.
These restrictions are eliminated under the Phased Retirement plan. Employees will receive the full PERA pension they have earned, based upon requirements including their years of service and age at retirement.
"Employees will have to have a reduction in their hours of at least 25 percent under the plan," said Hickman.
Employees are not to exceed 1,044 hours worked per year and a Phased Retirement Agreement must be filed with PERA.
A PERA member may qualify if they meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 62 years old.
- Meet all other requirements for a pension from PERA.
- Have worked at least 1,044 hours per year in a PERA covered position for a minimum of five years immediately prior to beginning Phased Retirement.
- Not be eligible for the State Employee Post retirement Option program.