Retirement eligibility age may rise for Michigan public school workers

Oct 21, 2012

Michigan's public school employees may have to work longer before they can retire. They're living longer,  
and that's hitting the bottom line of retirement programs.

Mark Guastella is Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel. Hesays the current retirement age is 60, but that will have to change.

"If your life expectancy for a 60-year-old is 18 years, and they're living 21 years, you're going to have  three years  of full benefits that will have to be paid that weren't accounted for at the time the person retired," Guastella says.

He says that discrepancy cost the system more than $700 million last year.

State lawmakers are looking at a plan that would index the retirement age to reflect longer life expectancy.

Guastella  also says charter school employees and contractors should be required to pay into the retirement system.

"That change would mitigate much of the risk of increasing the long-term unfunded liability," Guastella says.

He adds that school employees tend to be healthier and live longer.

"I think a lot of that is tied to what they do for a living, and in terms of satisfaction in life, but they also take care of themselves."