The retirement age for troopers hired by the Ohio Highway Patrol after January 2020 would rise from 48 to 52 under legislation introduced this week and aimed at shoring up the pension fund’s long-term finances.
Those hired before January 2020 will still be eligible to retire at 48, according to changes sought by the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System.
The Ohio Retirement Study Council also supports the proposed legislation, which would reduce the system’s unfunded liabilities. Like other public pension systems, the patrol pension lowered its assumed annual rate of return to 7.75 percent, down from 8 percent, which caused its unfunded liabilities to swell.
The bill would also make changes to survivor benefits and off-duty disability benefits.
Moving the retirement age to 52 puts the troopers in line with law enforcement officers who are covered by the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement Fund. The retirement age used to be 52 for troopers but was lowered in 1989.
State Rep. Rick Carfagna, R-Westerville, who is sponsoring the bill, said he does not expect the changes to be controversial.
The patrol pension system, which is the smallest of Ohio’s five retirement systems, has $865 million in assets and about 3,200 members, retirees and beneficiaries.
Collectively, the five public pension funds have nearly 2 million members and beneficiaries and more than $190 billion in assets.
In recent years, the systems have grappled with rising health care costs, retirees living longer, a volatile investment market, and reduced assumed rates of return — all factors in major changes to health care benefits, cost of living increases and more.
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