SC state retiree cost-of-living raise cut in half



COLUMBIA — A typical state retiree will lose about half of his cost of living adjustment next year, or about $180 for the year, under a plan the South Carolina financial oversight board adopted Thursday.

The five-member Budget and Control Board approved a plan that reduces the state’s outlook for investment returns. As a result, people drawing benefits from the main retirement system stand to get a 1 percent cost of living adjustment instead of the 2 percent increase under the old investment return calculation. And there will be no increase at all in the Police Officer Retirement System, said Bill Bloom, the director of the South Carolina Retirement Systems.

Bloom said the typical retiree draws about $18,000 a year from the system. That means the typical retiree would see about $180 less than if the old investment rate had been kept in place.

Roger Smith, the executive director of the South Carolina Education Association, said the reduction was premature and that instead, employees and employers should both pay more to support cost of living increases.

“Current teachers and school employees and retirees are not asking for any additional benefits – only for what’s in current law and has been promised,” Smith said. Current teachers and employees, he said, have agreed to pay more to keep the system solvent.