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LOCAL & MUNICIPAL RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

PENSION EVALUATIONS

There are almost 500 distinct Local and Municipal Retirement Plans in the State of Florida (beginning with Alachua County and continuing to Winter Springs in Seminole County). Some Systems have fewer than 100 participants.[1] This enumeration does not include the Florida State Retirement System [FRS]).

The majority of the participants of Local and Municipal Plans are included in the plans of the 106 most populous Florida cities. The population of this cohort ranges from approximately 900,000 for Jacksonville City to 20,000 for Naples. The representative "median city" would be Largo with a population of approximately 78,000. The Police & Firefighters' Defined Benefit Plan for Largo had 435 participants as of January 9, 2014. However, the Largo Plan for General Employees is very different. It is a less generous Defined Contribution Plan [401(k)].

In addition to the complexities, especially regarding Pension Evaluation, introduced by this plethora of unique Retirement Plans there are the challenges presented to the family practitioner by frequent revisions to local plan law and regulation. Troyan seeks to keep the practitioner alert to these ongoing revisions, additions and deletions by noting these changes on our website.

A CHALLENGE TO THE ATTORNEY: PENSION EVALUATIONS.

Because of the many differences in local retirement benefits, it is essential that the practitioner have accurate data regarding the specific retirement system being evaluated. To illustrate the potential for variation in the present cash value of a plan participant's retirement benefit, we illustrate outcomes for FOUR different Police Retirement Systems and compare these outcomes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). The Systems compared to the FRS (Special Risk Plan) are: [2]

  • Gainsville Police & Fire
  • Jacksonville Police & Fire
  • Miami Police & Fire
  • Sarasota Police & Fire

Assumed Retirement Age.

For uniformity of illustration we illustrate the pension benefit and its present cash value for a police officer retiring after 25 Years of Police Service. Several Systems permit retirement without actuarial penalty after 20 Years of Police Service, however, for many the benefit is enhanced upon attaining 25 Years of Police Service. Thus for each of the Systems illustrated it is assumed that retirement occurred upon attaining 25 Years of Police Service.

Clarification of Chart Below.

Monthly Benefit: Benefit paid to retiree after 25 YOS

PCV of Mo. Benefit: The actuarial equivalent in cash of the monthly benefit

System Monthly Benefit PCV of Mo. Benefit

Gainsville $4,306.92 $647,140.69

Jacksonville $4,666.67 $972,774.83

Miami $5,333.33 $939,330.61

Sarasota $5,000.00 $926,776.58

FRS $5,000.00 [3] $824,724.35

Average PCV @ Retirement $862,149.41

Percent Diff. between High and Low 50.32%

The practitioner will observe that there is not a general correlation between the size of the monthly retirement benefit and its present cash value. The primary reasons for this absence of a direct correlation are:

  • Difference in age upon attaining 25 YOS [4]
  • Variations in Plan Interest Assumptions
  • Variations in Post Retirement COLA
  • Size of COLA
  • Onset of COLA

Conclusions.

The family attorney will recognize that a Pension Evaluation of a Local or Municipal employee's retirement benefits should be specific to the local system.

Caution is required to confirm that aberrant actuarial or statistical factors are not inadvertently introduced.



[1] Statistics are "rounded" for ease of reference.

[2] The Special Risk Plan is the Police & Fire Plan.

[3] This benefit identity is not attributable to plan similarity. Rather it is attributable to the accidental confluence of actuarial factors.

[4] This impacts on Life Expectancy and the duration of payments to the retiree.