Senate Approves Change to Retiree Work Restrictions

Senate Approves Change to Retiree Work Restrictions
Temporary Senate Chamber in MA State House

Increases Annual Hour Limit to 1,200

May 22, 2018: The State Senate has voted to increase the hourly limit placed on retirees who return to part-time public service for a state or local entity in Massachusetts. Senators Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) cosponsored the measure as an amendment to the FY19 Budget, now under debate in the Senate.

Today’s unanimous approval follows action taken by the House of Representatives in April, where a similar amendment was adopted within the House’s version of the Budget. Rep. Mark Cusack (D-Braintree) carried the Mass Retirees amendment, while Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer) filed a similar measure.

As the law currently stands, public retirees are allowed to work for a governmental unit within Massachusetts on what is considered to be a part-time basis. The law limits hours worked to 960 hours a year, as well as restricts earnings. The proposal passed in the House increases the hours to 1,500, while the Senate increases the limit to 1,200. Both versions leave the compensation limit as it is currently structured. 

Under the current earnings limit, public retirees can earn the difference between one’s pension and what their former job currently pays – plus an additional $15,000.

Superannuation retirees working in the private sector or in federal or other government work outside of Massachusetts are exempt from any restrictions in earnings of hours worked. Disability retirees are restricted in their earnings from any type of employment – public or private sector.

“These restrictions date back many decades and were put in place to prevent public employees from retiring, receiving their pension and then returning to full-time work in the public sector within Massachusetts. However, the law has always allowed retirees to return to public service on a part-time basis,” explains Association President Frank Valeri.

“In recent years, we’ve witnessed a greater number of retirees returning to part-time work. With people living longer, retirees want to remain involved and also make some extra money to help make ends meet. The current hourly restriction amounts to less than 18.5 hours per week. At 1,200 the average work week is roughly 23 hours, which meets the part-time standard.”

Since the two branches of the Legislature have passed slightly different versions of the hourly increase, a House/Senate Budget Conference Committee will sort out the difference during its deliberations in June. If passed in the final version of the FY19 Budget and signed into law by Governor Baker, the new hourly limit would likely go into effect as of January 1, 2019.