Much is being said (and done) by politicians and employers in these difficult economic times about cutting the retirement benefits of retirees, both in the private and public sectors.
It should not take a Philadelphia lawyer to know that retirement benefits are deferred income. What this means in a nutshell is that the employee (or retiree) already owns these benefits not the company or organization they have or will retire from.
It is part of the employee package. Granted, in most cases, the employee must be employed a minimum amount of time to be partially or fully vested. When the Studebaker factory left South Bend, Ind., and went to Canada, the employees who were not already retired lost all or most of their retirement benefits. That episode caused Congress to pass the vested retirement law.
A typical help wanted ad, such as the one I am looking at now (dated 11-23-11) “XXX Company offers competitive wages and comprehensive benefits program including medical, dental and vision insurance; life insurance, company-paid pension and company-matched 401(k)” Now, if this company was not paying into your retirement fund at a low rate, they would be paying into your pocket. In my retirement case, we began a retirement program in lieu of a pay raise the year it began. You can readily see that the retirement fund is mine, not some politician who is not looking down the road toward his own retirement age.
Gary Holtman lives in Columbus
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.