The North Carolina State Treasurer, on Wednesday, recognized the state Retirement Systems Division (RSD) for its ongoing efforts to review the state disability benefits programs.
The review also encompasses taking a look at the methods and priorities of recovering overpayments from recipients.
The state retirement system administers the state’s disability programs on behalf of state and local governments.
The programs provide monthly replacement income to qualified recipients who become disabled while serving as permanent public employees.
“I’ve spoken to many people who know someone on disability who can still work, and I believe the vast majority of completed disability applications are approved,” State Treasurer Dale Folwell said. “I feel that we need to take a hard look at the policies and processes to ensure we are paying benefits only to those who are eligible and recovering overpayments in order to maintain the sustainability of these well-funded programs.”
Folwell noted one example highlighting that in the policies there are differences between the legal requirements for eligibility for local, state, and federal disability programs.
“I’ve instructed RSD to continue to meet our legal obligation to recoup overpayments while ensuring that eligible members receive all benefits due,” Folwell said. “Cases of fraud are at the top of that list. Taxpayers expect us to run our plans efficiently, and if we do that the state will be able to continue attracting and retaining qualified public servants for North Carolina’s state and local agencies.”
Folwell indicated that the review should be complete by June 2018.
Last month the state retirement system was awarded the 2017 Standards Awards for Funding and Administration for all six of the state’s eligible pension plans by the Public Pensions Coordinating Council (PCCC).
The PCCC is a coalition of three national associations that represent public retirement systems and administrators: the National Council on Teacher Retirement, the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems, and the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.
The state received funding and administration awards for the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS), the Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS), the Consolidated Judicial Retirement System (CJRS), the Legislative Retirement System (LRS), the Firefighters’ and Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund (FRSWPF), and the National Guard Pension Fund (NGPF).
The coalition represents more than 500 of the largest pension plans in the United States serving most of the nation’s 16 million employees of state and local government.
Folwell credited the General Assembly through taxpayers, local governments, and employee contributions for providing the full funding needed for the state’s retirement systems.
“Our elected leaders understand the value of our pension plans to attract and retain qualified employees for public service,” Folwell said. “Together, we seek to preserve and strengthen these plans so we can continue to provide them for the next generation of teachers, first responders, state workers and other public workers.”
According to a release from the State Treasurer’s Office the PPCC awards are only given to those public plans meeting strict funding and administration criteria.
In 2016, less than 85 of the 6,276 public sector pension plans were given standards awards, or just over one percent of them.
“We believe the retirement systems are made stronger when we are held to higher expectations and measured on our performance,” Executive Director of the North Carolina Retirement Systems Division Steve Toole said.
The state retirement systems provide retirement benefits to over 900,000 current and former public employees.
The Department of State Treasurer’s RSD manages the processing and administration of all retirement benefits, including disability, for North Carolina state government, local government, law enforcement, judicial, and legislative employees, as well as fire and rescue workers, and all of their applicable beneficiaries.