Ask Jack Jack Ehnes

The Colorado legislature has rolled back benefits for new hires, existing workers and even retirees. Can this happen here?

Your core benefit under CalSTRS is protected both by the California Constitution, and by the U.S. Constitution. By core benefit I mean your defined benefit retirement, your disability and your survivor benefit.

However, protection does not extend to the Annual Benefit Adjustment. It may be subject to reduction, suspension or elimination by the Legislature and Governor, although this has not been proposed.

Other program changes could affect future members, such as lengthening the vesting period, raising the retirement age, or increasing contributions through legislation. A news article in the June 19 New York Times lays out the reactions of several states to the impact of pension obligations on their recession-wracked budgets.

But you’re not powerless in the face of these pressures, which are very important to your future. There are things you can do to stay engaged with us. One thing is to stay connected with this site, sign up for email updates and go to my blog for breaking alerts on issues of importance to the financial health of CalSTRS. Finally, for those of you who follow Twitter, you can stay informed by becoming a CalSTRS follower at www.twitter.com/calstrs.

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