Local News

Retirement Law Creates Backup In Benefits Dispersement

Posted Updated

RALEIGH, N.C. — When Dennis Poteat retired from the Raleigh Police Department after 28 years on the job, he got dozens of letters and cards from well-wishers.

One thing he still has not gotten, however, is his retirement check.

"I got the first letter saying I may not receive a check during the first month of my retirement," Poteat said.

The delay is a backup caused as a result of a new law passed by the General Assembly that requires government workers to wait six months after they retire to go back to work at another government job. It was designed to help prevent employees from receiving a salary and retirement benefits at the same time.

Anyone retiring before Oct. 1, however, is exempt from the law. That caused the number of applications for retirement to triple. In October 2004, the North Carolina State Employees Association, which represents about 57,000 state workers, processed 580 applications for retirement; in October 2005, it received more than 1,600 applications.

"We're concerned about how this affects our membership in terms of the people who may not get a check," said SEANC spokesman Ardis Watkins. "That's a very immediate concern."

Ultimately, all retirees will get their retirement benefits. Even if their checks are late, they will be retroactive. The North Carolina Office of the Treasurer believes the delay is a temporary solution that will be worked out by January.

State Treasurer Richard Moore said his staff of 150 employees is working overtime to process the applications and get checks out to recipients. Only an estimated 150 people will see a delay in receiving their checks.

"We're not making any excuses. We want to try to get everybody paid on time, but at the same time, fulfill our legal fiduciary responsibility," Moore said. "We're down here literally working nights and weekends and have been for more than a month."

As for Poteat, he heard Wednesday that there is a good chance that he will get his check soon. He hopes everyone else is as lucky.

"The state or city counted on us for years, now we need to count on them," said Poteat.