Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

News You Should Know

Retirement Roundup: Seven of your most burning questions on Social Security

windfall elimination provision

A digest of timely information and insight about finance, investing, and retirement.

of your most burning questions on Social Security (with answers)
The New York Times

have lots of questions about Social Security. That’s not surprising. No
government program is more important to so many Americans, as it is the largest
retirement income source for a majority of older households. The New York Times
responds to some of the most frequent questions submitted by readers, such as:
Will it still be around when I retire? How does the spousal benefit work?

support state-operated retirement savings plan for private workers, poll says
| Denver

than two-thirds of Colorado voters support the state creating a retirement savings
plan for private-sector employees whose employers do not offer one, according
to a survey commissioned by a political group that pushes progressive
legislation at statehouses across the nation. The results come after Gov. Jared
Polis appointed eight people to a study
group created by the General Assembly to consider how Colorado could join a
small but growing number of states that are establishing these types of
programs. Sixty-nine percent of registered voters surveyed were in favor of
creating a plan.

New state programs, like California’s, make
it easier for workers to save for retirement

CalSavers, California’s automatic individual retirement
account plan, which officially started in July, offers employees of small
businesses and other companies that do not offer a retirement plan the
opportunity to save through the state program. California now requires
employers with five or more employees to either join CalSavers or begin
offering their own retirement plan. That will give an estimated 7.5 million
California workers a retirement savings plan option. About 55 million Americans
nationwide do not have access to a workplace retirement plan today.

charts about the future of retirement
| Urban

Social Security cuts, shrinking employer-sponsored pensions,
low savings rates, and longer life spans have raised fears of a looming
retirement crisis. But other trends point to better retirement outcomes, such
as women’s increased employment and earnings, longer working lives, and economic
growth that raises wages. The Urban Institute provides some answers using the
best, most recent data available to help sort out how the profound social, economic, and demographic shifts that
are transforming retirement will shape older adults’ future financial security.

Oregon government employees sue to overturn
new state pension law
| Oregon

Nine Oregon public employees have sued the state, saying
their pension benefits are unfairly reduced by a new law. The lawsuit, filed in
the Oregon Supreme Court, contests Senate Bill 1049, which the Oregon Legislature
passed and Gov. Kate Brown signed into law this year. The lawsuit says that the
legislation amounts to a breach of contract and illegal taking because it
reduces the amount of retirement benefits for the employees. SB 1049 was passed
by Oregon lawmakers in a bid to rein in the state’s unfunded $27 billion pension
liability tied to the Public Employees Retirement System. Policymakers have
long grappled with how to keep the costs of the pensions of local, state, and
school district retirees under control.

Case studies suggest move from public
pensions hurts taxpayers

A new series of case studies finds that states that shifted
new employees from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution or cash
balance plans experienced increased costs for taxpayers, without major
improvements in funding. The report, “Enduring Challenges:
Examining the Experiences of States that Closed Pension Plans,”

published by the National Institute on
Retirement Security
, also indicates that the move away from pensions
cuts employees’ retirement security and that employers may face increasing
challenges hiring and retaining staff to deliver public services.


  1. I can’t read the article on seven questions on social security without subscribing to the New York Times – if you are sending us information, please be certain it is accessible to all of us.

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Ms. Cadwallader,

      Thank you for your feedback. We try not to include articles from publications that require subscriptions, but most publications allow for a certain number of free articles a month. We apologize that you were not able to access this information.

  2. Janet Campbell says:

    Your social security infomation does not reflect the issue of combining with less benefits which ends up a very different picture concerning spousal benefits. they are severely impacted by pera benefits.

  3. susan weckbaugh says:

    What’s happening with HB6933 and why are you not reporting on it and using muscle to push it through

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Ms. Weckbaugh,

      New WEP/GPO legislation was introduced at the start of the new Congressional Session. The bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act of 2019 (H.R. 141) would amend part of the Social Security Act by repealing the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). H.R. 141 is designed to address two provisions that reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits paid to public service employees (and their spouses) who spend the majority of their careers working for employers that do not participate in Social Security. PERA is in the process of meeting with members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation to discuss WEP and and GPO and its impact on PERA members who do not spend a full career working for a PERA-affiliated employer. Please let your Congressional representative know how the WEP has impacted you.

  4. Nancy Radkiewicz says:

    When will there be an increase – COLA???? Why don’t you do this each year? NANCY RADKIEWICZ

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Ms. Radkiewicz,

      Legislation in 2018 (SB 200) suspended the annual increase for 2018 and 2019. The legislation also contained “guard rails” (called the automatic adjustment) to keep PERA on the path to full funding by 2047. The negative investment year in 2018 and other demographic shifts affected PERA’s funded status, and the automatic adjustment will go into effect in July 2020. This means that when the annual increase is restored in July 2020, it will be 1.25 percent.

  5. Christopher Richards says:

    Hmmm, you’re telling me that the WEP penalty is’t a top 7 issue for Colorado retirees? Really???

    Whys isn’t PERA fighting tooth & nail 24/7 to have this gross inequity removed? Yes, I understand it’s a federal thing, but using that line time and again to avoid taking it on seems contrary to PERA’s stated mission. It won’t go away until congress feels real pressure to make that happen. The state PERA’s have the platform needed to apply that pressure, why isn’t this being addressed?

  6. Rich Wilke says:

    PERA lost $9.2 bil in assets last reporting year. Why? The Rosy newsletter still shows PERA will not be able to meet its obligations in the future! What say you! What amateur investment director lost 9.2 Bil in only one year! Why hide the answer from the retirees?

    • Charlotte Bruch says:

      Rich Will, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself. Pera probably ought to hire my investor. My IRA and Annuity did so much better. I did not suffer but gained in them.

  7. Becky Kennedy says:

    WOW! Great responses and replies from my fellow PERA Retirees. Very curious to see what, if any, responses PERA is going to give to each question. Or are the real issues and concerns we have, once again, going to be ignored and passed over?

  8. Pete Nichols says:

    This seems to be like most things PERA does-not informative and misleading. Where are the 7 questions, let alone the answers? Why does the site show all the great things with public pensions when you highlight social security issues? Reminds me of when I shopped for health insurance on your site last year and you showed a $3500 deductible for myself and a $3500 deductible for my wife. Well, turns out it was a flat $7000 deductible as a couple. Thanks for yet another misleading piece of writing.

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Mr. Nichols,

      The Retirement Roundup and Health Care Headlines features of PERA on the Issues are compilations of articles related to retirement, pensions, and health care that have appeared in national publications and do not necessarily represent PERA’s position. We include these features so that our readers are aware of what is happening in the larger retirement community.

  9. Pamela Krull says:

    Where is a WEP update? I agree that this inequity needs to be changed asap.

  10. Colorado PERA says:

    Dear Mr. Wilke,

    To clarify, during 2018, the PERA investment portfolio declined $1.8 billion in value. During 2018, PERA paid $5 billion in benefits and received almost $3 billion in contributions. All of this is outlined in an infographic here: and in the larger Comprehensive Annual Financial Report here:

  11. Shari Andasola says:

    Why am I reading about California &Oregon.? I live & work in Colorado and I prefer my retirement not be designed after California

  12. Colorado PERA says:

    Dear Ms. Kennedy,

    We respond to every comment where a question is asked or respond to commenters when factual clarification is needed.

  13. Colorado PERA says:

    Dear Ms. Krull,

    Not much has happened on federal legislation to eliminate the WEP that was introduced earlier this year. Here is the latest information:

    See also the Colorado PERA response in this comment thread to Susan Weckbaugh.

  14. Janet Reither says:

    As I understand it, life expectancy in the USA is falling, not rising.

    I wonder why after changing from anticipating 7% growth on PERA assets to looking for only 5%, the PERA fund was not able to meet its new goal in a booming economy last year where everyone else was making money. Could it be because PERA is investing in private equity schemes? I have read that many private equity companies go bankrupt. Is this a judicious way to invest PERA funds or is someone doing the investing finding a way to enrich themselves personally?

  15. G M Santo says:

    This Was A Meaningless Article To Fill Space On PERA’s Website

    Talk about “phoning it in”, re-posting a newspaper article, when “The Fairness In Social Security Act (repealing the WEP, etc.) legislation updates are all that PERA recipients care about with respect to Social Security. My burning questions about PERA board & Staff (PERA B.S.) are rhetorical… At least readers have posted more relevant comments about Social Security (despite PERA B.S.)!

    • A Traugutt says:

      well said!

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Mr. Santo,

      We appreciate your candid feedback. Please know that the Retirement Roundup feature of PERA on the Issues consists of articles that have appeared in other publications on topics that we think our readers would be interested in knowing more about.

      • G M Santo says:

        Dear Anonymous Web Site Moderator,

        I’ll be looking forward to future “interesting” articles, hopefully based on comments you received to this post (including the comments not selected for posting, of which I’m sure are many but censored)…

  16. SILVIO L COVI says:

    Well, most of the above seems to be “barking up many wrong trees”. PERA, OR TIAA-CREF are not the same after SEC (the Security and Exchange Commission) has surrendered 100% of its power to the SHORTING PEOPLE IN THE STOCK MARKET. If you ever buy stocks, you will unpleasantly notice that the layman will never make a dime, because the so called ‘100 big boys’ in the Market and the “[100] SHORTING TRADING ACADEMIES” clean the ‘slate’ on any set of stocks any time they WISH SO, while the rest of us remain empty-handed. IT IS TIME TO DEMAND THE IRS TO STOP SURRENDERING TO THE ‘100 SHORTING BILLIONAIRES’ AND ASK THE CURRENT SEC TO STEP DOWN. …Or else hire a few successful ‘shorting people’. THE STOCK MARKET IS ‘DEAD’ FOR MOST OF US! CHANGE IS NEEDED NOW!

  17. Gary Berlin says:

    I, like so many other “PERA on the Issues” readers am extremely disappointed that PERA would link an article about Social Security that to open requires a reader to create an account with the New York Times. PERA, you can do much better than this.

  18. Suzanne Shipley says:

    oh and where is the answer to the question: WHY DON’T I GET ONE PENNY OF MY DECEASED HUSBAND’S SOCIAL SECURITY? oh that’s right… i taught school for 26 years so I don’t need it…. !!!
    Why isn’t this written into teacher’s contracts?? Teachers need to know they get ZERO of their spouses social security if they teach public school in Colorado and their spouse dies.
    And don’t waste your time writing your representative because they don’t reply!

  19. Erroll Giddings says:

    A few years ago, I was discussing PERA with some CU Boulder faculty members. One faculty member told us that she paid in to Social Security and PERA. Her plan was simple; she wanted both benefits. Today, she is retired and receives PERA benefits plus Social Security benefits. Why doesn’t PERA offer support for this program with all employees.

    • Colorado PERA says:

      Dear Mr. Giddings,

      There are a few PERA-affiliated employers that contribute to both Social Security and PERA, along with their employees. It is an employer’s decision to offer both plans, not PERA’s.

  20. David Brick says:

    I believe it may be time for PERA retirees to file a lawsuit against the State similar to that being brought in Oregon. The cost of living freeze amounts to takings from retirees who were promised COLAs based on the consumer price index (CPI).

    But as PERA’s lackluster investment performance continues to disappoint and earnings continue to dwindle, we can realistically expect that legislators will come after our pensions again (and again).

    This is patently dishonest. It’s nothing more or less than thievery. When you promise people certain benefits for working for you, you need to stand by those promises. Period.

    I am as interested as anyone in ensuring a return to full funding for the PERA system. But the sacrifices to make that happen should not and cannot be shouldered by the active retirees, who are now on a fixed income and wholly dependent on the promises that were made to us in order to entice us into public sector employment at lower than private sector rates of earnings.

    PERA needs to stop buckling under to the Legislature and actively and angrily advocate for its active retirees. This practice of “spreading the pain” among all the stakeholders needs to stop now!

  21. Laureen Mason says:

    When is PERA going to stand up for those of us that taught im other states, then in CO for 10 years or more and then we LOSE the Social Security medical disability benefits we desperately need in critical health times?
    What PERA offers doesn’t even come close to Social Security medical sdisability
    Totally unfair and a rip off

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