Bills HD. 2808 and SD.1686 (192nd General Court – Massachusetts Legislature)

“… Act(s) relative to providing a COVID-19 retirement credit to essential public-sector workers.” (formerly 1794) (formerly 1686)

There are too many variables to be determined by any and all State agencies that will have a hand in interpreting and implementing these bills when and if they become law, so much so that we are not going to speculate authoritatively beyond what is in writing to date. But below are some of the yet-to-be-answered questions that we have and have heard:

  • How broad or narrow will the determination be as to what positions are “essential workers”? (Maybe there is already a definition?)
  • Is the State paying for this? Are each of the employers paying for their own? Is the retirement system as a whole absorbing it into its funding mandate?
  • Will the credit be retroactive to members that have retired already but otherwise would be eligible having been essential during the described period? Will age 65 public service employees be able to take advantage retroactively after their required retirement?
  • Will the service be prorated based on only being essential for a portion of the period? Will the service credit be prorated based on full-time versus part-time employment?

We imagine that the legislature, or any involved state agencies are equally not yet able to answer any detailed questions. Pending retirees will have to decide for themselves if they want to hold off until they know if it is retroactive after retirement.

Update April 5, 2021

In conversations with other retirement systems, a number of them surmise that this legislation will not be enacted as written because it is vague for the above reasons. A few of them pointed to a long list of essential businesses that Governor Baker issued in March of last year and thought that that list was expansive enough that many of our members could see themselves as qualifying as an “essential worker”. If that is true, it will be a big expense to whatever entity is charged with paying for this benefit, and for that reason as well it might not pass into law as written.

The Board of this system has sent a letter to our local legislators to share insights and suggest amendments to the legislation: FRRS letter re retirement credit to essential public-sector workers

The governor’s March 23, 2020 list of “essential services” can be found here: Governor’s List of Essential Personnel


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