Dead Double-Dippers

Somehow it has become a scandal when a retired government employee gets another public job that pays a salary.  In an article out this week by New Jersey Watchdog the focus is on those retired on disability who get jobs working for the governor wherein state pension board member John Sierchio makes the point:

“These people are playing within the rules of the game. But the rules of the game are so absurd, they need to be changed.”

Exactly!  Rules made up in essentially secret meetings based on advice from ‘experts’ paid to justify the needs of those who seek to benefit personally always seem to wind up over-benefiting those people who do pay attention (a cohort that excludes the general public and the media).

But once we have the rules then why vilify someone who plays by them and gets a windfall?  Do you attack trial lawyers who get 40% of an injury settlement?  Or TPAs who get 20 basis points for a 5-life-plan that happens to hold $10 million primarily from a DB rollover?   Or Alex Rodriguez?

But I could be wrong.  So noticing that the list of New Jersey retirees had been updated to June, 2013 I decided to search through pension records of Union County Freeholders to see if there was anything particularly irksome.

Vernell Wright – current freeholder getting $29,500 a year for her ‘Yes’ votes also receives a monthly pension check of $6,317.70 as of June, 2013. Doesn’t bother me.  After 36 years of teaching it’s like getting a second job to keep busy as a WalMart greeter (without the weighty responsibilities).

Rick Proctor – former freeholder who resigned as Rahway mayor yesterday getting a monthly pension check of $6,800.41 as of June, 2013. After 35 years of service with most of it spent hustling for campaign cash – not that bothersome.

Chester Holmes – former freeholder getting a monthly pension check of $3,465.80 as of June, 2013 despite having died last year. I can see there might be a quibble here.

16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tough Love on September 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Quoting …”Chester Holmes – former freeholder getting a monthly pension check of $3,465.80 as of June, 2013 despite having died last year. ”

    Understandable if the continued payments are survivorship benefit to a spouse or a continuation of payments during the “period-certain” of a pension option election with a period-certain, but if neither, why didn’t pension payment stop with his death?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Tough Love on September 12, 2013 at 12:55 am

    It would be interesting to know exactly who is cashing Mr. Holmes checks and whether it’s being done illegally.

    There are numerous cases of Social Security (and even individually bought annuity) payments continuing to go out to a decedent because no one had notified SS (or the annuity-writer). Perhaps the Plan has not be notified of his death.

    As to the “same ages” on record for the survivors, I know that some Private Sector plans don’t base the survivorship reduction on the actual age of the spouse (unless the spouse is more than 5 years younger than the primary annuitant) so perhaps that practice is used here and (in such situations) they just record the annuitant’s age for BOTH the annuitant and the survivor.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on September 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    John, I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic in saying that it doesn’t bother you what some of these double dippers dead or alive are collecting but it sure as hell bothers me. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing that this is the system and it can’t be changed as an excuse for these ludicrous benefits for not only the public employee but their families as well. BTW–I also have a huge problem with the blood sucking attorneys suing everyone in sight thus driving up our insurance rates, cost of doing business, etc…. I guess this is the new economy. If one blood sucker doesn’t take the case, the 100 or so down the street will. Our illustrious Steve Sweeney was on a radio talk show last week–BTW, he claimed to be an expert on pensions “he understands pensions very well” When a caller asked why private contractors were receiving pensions when it is illegal for them to be in the NJ Pension systeme, his answer was that once they are vested they are in for life. If it is illegal to begin with, how does one become legally vested? It is a ridiculous system that no one has bothered to overhaul for years and now we even have to pay for dead people! What a f—ng laugh. Excuse my language.

    Reply

  4. Posted by eatingdogfood on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    CA CHING, CA CHING, CA CHING! YEAH, IT MUST BE THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! My Union Boss down at the Town Hall emailed me yesterday and.
    Told me that this article was hitting the Papers today, and He told Me.
    to make it Look like I was Working till this Blows Over in a week. I
    know the routine! In a week, I’ll be back to my usual activity of.
    Collecting A Paycheck for Doing Nothing! Hey, Private Sector.
    Workers; You really gotta Pony Up more Taxes! I need at least a 10 %.
    raise! My Cabin Cruiser at the Dock behind my Vacation House in.
    Florida needs a New Engine. My wife has been after me for a new car.
    She wants a BMW X6 G-Power Typhoon S! I told her I can’t afford that.
    car. So then she says she will accept a Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and.
    Nothing else! I also got Private School Tuition of $ 40,000.00 due.
    in September. I got Credit Card Expenses coming out my AXX! That
    new 3000 sq ft extension on my house raised my property taxes $ 15,000.
    The maid and the housekeeper want raises. The gardener also wants a.
    raise. You see Bunky; It ain’t easy in the Public Sector! So come
    on Private Sector Worker; Pony Up and Pay More Taxes so I can afford to.
    live here! You See; Life Is Not Fair, and the DemoRats will take.
    care of Everything! HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Eric on September 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    eatingdogfood:
    Did you have a lobotomy?
    Eric

    Reply

  6. Posted by Anonymous on September 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

    In other words, already retired pensioners continue to receive the COLA with no increase? What about those that retired after the UNCOLA was enacted? Do they received just the pension payment?

    Reply

    • Any COLA adjustments they got prior to the freeze (last one around 2010?) stay in place. Future COLAs are gone forever (or until the plan funded status as calculated by the state reaches a certain level which is the same thing).

      Reply

  7. Posted by Javagold on September 14, 2013 at 2:21 am

    these are the just the lucky winners in pension Ponzi pyramid…..their fellow public takers that are currently in the middle of the pension Ponzi pyramid will not be so lucky

    Reply

    • Posted by Tough Love on September 14, 2013 at 3:40 am

      ALL of these pensions SHOULD BE reduced to the average value of the pensions typically granted comparable Private Sector workers.

      A reversal of the financial “mugging” of the Taxpayers that has taken place for decades (and accelerated in more recent years) would be eminently justified.

      Reply

  8. Pensions should not only be significantly reduced but done away with all together as well as the life time health benefits. Taxpayers are paying for the employee, their families, life time benefits for spouses, dental, vision, survivor benefits and according to this article dead people. The gift that keeps on giving.

    Reply

  9. Posted by J_Ross797 on September 25, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Data Univ. has the names of at least 10-15 deceased retired PFRS members for the City of Rahway including Chester Holmes, a few died 20 yrs. ago.  Can’t believe survivors are still receiving $$. 

    Reply

  10. Posted by Cheryl Rolle on October 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

    My father the Late Freeholder Chester Holmes, passed away December 2012. He was not married at the time of his death. This information that you have posted is not correct. I am the Executor of my Dad’s ESTATE. I will contact the pension department of New Jersey.

    Reply

    • That could well be. I know one retiree who has been waiting for a recalculation of his pension for months now and they tell him the Department has only one person working on these benefits. It could be that the division has not updated their website. But it could also be that in these days of automatic deposit the checks were sent in error.

      I am sorry for your loss. I did not speak often with your father but in those few times he was a gentleman.

      Reply

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