WUOMFM

December 31st is final day for Detroit retirees to apply for state aid program

Dec 30, 2014

Detroit retirees protest pension cuts during the city's bankruptcy.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wednesday is a crucial deadline for city of Detroit retirees.

It’s the last day to file applications for help from a state-backed income stabilization fund.

That fund is meant to help pensioners pushed into or near poverty by cuts made during the city’s restructuring in bankruptcy.

The application process is a one-time deal, says Tina Bassett, a spokesperson for Detroit’s General Retirement System.

“It has to be postmarked by December 31st,” Bassett says. “If not, even if you qualify, you will not get it.

“It’s a benefit that comes through the state of Michigan. The retirement system has no control over it. We’re just trying to make it accessible to our retirees.”

The fund will be administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury. It provides $20 million over 14 years to soften the blow to Detroit retirees with incomes within 140% of the federal poverty level.

More guidelines and application information can be found on the General Retirement System’s website. Bassett says all retirees who think they may qualify should apply, even if they’re not sure.

The program is expected to start March 1, when 4.5% direct pension cuts kick in for Detroit’s non-uniform retirees.