Policy: Entitlements

Error allows Illinois to overpay state pensions

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Watchdog,Taxes,Illinois,Entitlements,Kelly Cohen,Follow the Money,Pensions,State Budget Solutions

How does a state worker get a pension seven times higher than it should be?

In Illinois, Bill Zettler, the director of research for the Family Taxpayers Foundation, researched the state's pension issue, according to Chicago's WGN-TV.

Zettler's book, Illinois Pension Scam, finds a simple error allowing state retirees' pensions to be way higher than they should be.

The State Employee Retirement System confirmed to WGN there has been a "mistake."

Carolyn Brown Hodge, for example, has collected $137,000 yearly since her 2009 retirement as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's deputy chief of staff.

What should Brown Hodge's pension — she resigned after begin caught using state property for political purposes — be?

Around $20,000 a year, according to WGN; she paid only $25,000 into the system over her 10-year employment.

The State Employee Retirement System has only 35 days to correct an error — and in Brown Hodge's case, it has not only been more than 35 days, but "it's been 3 years or about $375,000 dollars," according to WGN.

Now what?

Zettler points toward a bill in the Illinois state legislature that would allow the state to go back and collect the overpaid amount, and Brown Hodge's pension would sink to $1,400 a month, Zettler said.

The bill "passed the Senate and now needs to be approved in the House sometime this week," according to WGN.

Read the full article here.

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