The Board voted to support House Bill 298, which would allow OP&F to pay survivor and health care benefits to surviving spouses whose benefits had been terminated because they remarried prior to OP&F's creation in 1967. As currently written, the bill allows the Board of Trustees to establish the evidence necessary to document the deceased member's status as a contributor to the local fund created under former Ohio Revised Code Chapter 741. The Board's support of this legislation is conditioned on the bill also granting the Board authority to establish the evidence necessary to document the spouse's termination of benefits due to remarriage. In addition, the Board is requesting that the law governing the Ohio Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund be amended to allow for the payment of death benefits to these surviving spouses, payable one month following the effective date of the legislation or the filing of their application, whichever is later. Since the number of survivors falling into this category is predicted to be relatively small, a recent actuarial analysis conducted by Watson Wyatt estimated that the additional liability to OP&F would be minimal and would lead to a very small increase in OP&F's amortization period. OP&F survivor and health care benefits would not be retroactive under the proposed legislation.
Executive Director Estabrook reported that staff has officially begun the process to prepare the 2002 OP&F budget. Budget structuring for 2002 will continue OP&F's focus on: standardizing the budget presentation among departments, incorporating a long-term perspective, establishing linkages to broad organizational goals, and basing budget decisions on results and outcomes. The Board's Finance Committee will oversee the production of the 2002 budget and approve all sections prior to recommending full Board approval in December.
To preserve the structure of OP&F and allow for the development of a long-term plan for future benefit increases and changes, OP&F's Board voted not to support changes recommended by the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) regarding the transfer of part-time service credit until OP&F's actuarial funding status is closer to 90 percent. In a study required by House Bill 648, the ORSC recommended to the legislature last year that OP&F accept the transfer of part-time service credit on a pro-rata basis. Since OP&F currently only accepts full-time service credit, the acceptance of part-time service credit would result in accelerated eligibility and would affect OP&F's long-term funding status.
OP&F's rules Disability Benefit Procedures (742-3-05) and Administration of Public Safety Officers Death Benefit Fund (742-19-01) were amended to clarify that, for purposes of determining eligibility for disability and death fund benefits, a member's official duties will include any duties imposed under a contractual arrangement between the employer and other villages, cities, municipalities or federal agencies or otherwise imposed by law. According to ORC Section 742.38, an OP&F member is paid an annual disability benefit if the member is permanently disabled as "the result of the performance of the member's official duties as a member of the police or fire department."
The Board voted to approve Rule 742-3-18, Definition of Total Dependency, for purposes of determining a child's eligibility to receive survivor benefits through OP&F. A surviving child of any age, who is mentally or physically disabled and was "totally dependent" upon the member for support at the time of the member's death, is entitled to receive OP&F survivor benefits in the amount of $150 per month until death or recovery from the disability. According to the new rule, the child must meet one of the following criteria to be considered "totally dependent": (1) the child has a mentally or physically disabling condition and was claimed as an exemption for Federal income tax return purposes for the year preceding the member's death; (2) the child is determined disabled by a competent court of jurisdiction; (3) the child attends an adult workshop or mental retardation and developmental disabilities school; or (4) the child has a mental or physical disability and is incapable of earning at least $16,000 annually.
Jennifer Schorr began as OP&F's Internal Auditor on August 20. Ms. Schorr holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration degree from Ohio University and has over 10 years of experience in the Accounting and Internal Audit fields. Prior to joining OP&F, she worked in various State of Ohio offices including the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Secretary of State and Treasurer of State. As OP&F's Internal Auditor, Ms. Schorr will be responsible for conducting audits for management to assess effectiveness of controls, ensure accuracy of financial records, and evaluate efficiency of operations.
OP&F was recently informed that its actuarial consultant of 24 years, Watson Wyatt, would form a business alliance with Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company (GRS) effective August 31, 2001. As a result of the alliance, all of Watson Wyatt's public sector retirement clients, including OP&F, will transfer to GRS at that time. To allow for a smooth transition, OP&F's current Watson Wyatt representatives will remain on OP&F's account until the end of the year. To ensure that OP&F is receiving the best possible actuarial services, OP&F will look into the capabilities of other actuarial consulting firms. The Board directed staff to prepare and distribute a Request for Proposals for actuarial services by the end of September with a goal of contracting with an actuarial firm by the end of the year.
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