New Hampshire Supreme Court Upholds Benefit Changes

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld several changes key to the state’s pension reforms passed since 2011.

At issue were the definitions of a cost-of-living adjustment and “earned compensation”.

State lawmakers altered the definitions of those terms as part of pension reforms, and the court has now upheld the new definitions.

The court ruling, coupled with a related ruling by the court last month, has big implications for New Hampshire pensions.

The biggest is that public worker pensions aren’t contractually protected from being altered – regardless of whether that alteration comes from raising employee contributions or outright benefit changes.

More from the Associated Press:

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld some legislative reforms to the state retirement system, a month after upholding key provisions.

The court on Friday upheld changes to the definitions of “earned compensation” and Cost of Living Adjustments. It ruled the changes didn’t retroactively reduce pension benefits earned before a law was passed, and that employees don’t have a contractual guarantee that the terms of the plans will never change.

The ruling addressed a lawsuit by the American Federation of Teachers.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro said the decision clarifies the Legislature may adjust future pension benefits to safeguard the system.

The New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition made up of teachers, police and firefighters, said it “unfortunately allows public employers to renege on their promise of security in retirement.”

The state Supreme Court ruled last month that employee contributions to the pension system can legally be increased, even for vested workers.

 

Photo by Joe Gratz via Flickr CC License

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