Many state and local government pension plans are supplemented by coverage under Social Security. Some governments choose to participate in both programs, while others opt to provide their retirement benefits. If you are a public employee considering retiring, consider the important benefits of a local government employee retirement system. Learn more about social security, pensions, reimbursements, and future costs. This article will help you understand how your retirement benefits will work.

Social Security

Many state and local government pension plans are complemented by coverage under Social Security. However, some governments have elected not to participate in Social Security and offer their independent retirement benefits. Local governments can provide workers with Social Security retirement benefits by following certain guidelines. In addition to paying a matching PIA, public pension plans must provide monthly benefits that equal the Social Security retirement benefits of a typical noncovered public employee. The Internal Revenue Service has detailed regulations for state and local pension plans to comply with the Employment Tax Regulations. 

The number of retirement systems and benefit formulas varies by state and occupation. In most states, there is more than one pension plan, with many offering a choice of a combination of defined benefits and a defined contribution account. Generally, non-covered workers’ pensions are structured as traditionally defined benefit pensions. Seven out of 38 retirement systems also offer voluntary defined contribution plans, and three offer hybrid plans, which combine a less generous defined benefit formula with a defined contribution account.


These government pension systems generally offer pensions based on members’ service years and the average income over a certain number of job years. A lot of members additionally get cost-of-living adjustments, which aid in keeping the spending power of their retirement payments constant. Pensions are considered a key instrument of public personnel policy, and the consequences of their implementation are explored. Given the high labor intensity of the public sector, pensions are an essential tool for supporting local government. As a result, they have some benefits, from increased financial security to improved health care. 


A local government governing body that provides retirement benefits may establish a trust fund for such purposes. This fund must meet certain requirements. For example, reimbursements for eligible costs must be made according to generally accepted accounting principles and must be for reasonable administrative costs. In addition, contributions must be made for the benefit of the beneficiaries. However, the funds contributed cannot be changed or transferred.

Reimbursements for retirement benefits for local government employees can include health insurance or life insurance. The amount of this benefit varies depending on the state, the occupation, and the employee’s retirement age. State and local government pensions are taxable income to employees when they are received. In many cases, the state pays the full cost of health insurance premiums. But there is no guarantee that all employees will receive health insurance coverage.

Future Costs

In California, many county governments pay for retiree health insurance. Unfortunately, these benefits costs have been increasing faster than inflation and overall government spending. While state public pensions have received much attention over the last few years, local public employee pensions remain largely untouched. While local government pensions are a small proportion of public pension assets, their failure could have devastating consequences. High taxes may cause businesses and residents to leave a community, leaving the pension fund with less revenue and less ability to pay promised benefits. While many potential issues are associated with these pensions, it is important to understand what causes them and what options are available.