— cost of living allowances would be tied to inflation, capped at 2 percent — down from the current 3 percent cap;
— workers would have a retirement medical account instead of the OPERS health care benefits;
— workers would have to work longer to be eligible for full retirement.
Carraher said “The plan will morph between now and when we finally introduce it.”
Generally, public employee pension benefits are prescribed by state law and changes require approval by the Ohio General Assembly. The retirement systems are funded by a combination of employee and employer contributions and investment returns. Government workers in Ohio are not part of the Social Security system.
OPERS has roughly 1 million retiree and worker members and $95 billion in assets.
OPERS is now asking lawmakers to allow the pension fund to halt the cost of living adjustment in 2022 and 2023 for all retirees and delay the COLA for two years for all new retirees.
Related: Ohio’s largest public pension system looks to cut benefits
Changes in pension COLAs is a big lever to straighten out a system’s finances. Likewise, retirees rely on COLAs over the long haul to preserve their buying power and keep pace with inflation.
The current COLA is 3 percent per year for those who retired before 2012 and the rate of inflation, up to 3 percent, for those who retired 2012 and later.
Carraher said the system is currently looking for a lawmaker to sponsor the COLA bill.
“That’s what we’re trying to work on. We’re meeting with pretty much meeting all the House and Senate right now,” she said.