Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 24, 2013

Legislation would close state's 'triple dippers' loophole

HARRISBURG — You’ve surely heard of double-dipping retired state employees. But what about triple-dippers?

Double dippers are retirees who receive a government pension and return to their jobs part-time. Triple dippers are those who also collect unemployment checks after they reach the limit of 95 days per year they can work without affecting their pension payments.

Triple-dipping is allowed under a little-known loophole in the state unemployment compensation law. But a bill that has passed both the House and Senate would close the loophole.

State records show one-third of double-dipping state retirees collect unemployment when they complete their temporary return to the workforce.

State Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia County, said the result has been a drain of $2.77 million on the state unemployment fund over the three-year period ending last December. The cost of triple-dipping unemployment payments in 2010 alone was $942,645.

A review of government data showed that many triple-dippers work where retirees would likely best know about the unemployment loophole — the Department of Labor and Industry.

The triple-dipper issue went largely unnoticed until that agency began bringing back hundreds of retirees to help deal with jobless claims during the last recession, said Dan Egan, a spokesman in the state Office of Administration.

In 2010, Egan said, the Department of Labor and Industry accounted for 200 of the 600 pensioned retirees working for the state. The Department of Public Welfare also employed about 200 pensioned retirees, with the remaining 200 spread across other state agencies, he said.

Double-dipping is allowed because it gives state agencies the ability to bring back retirees to fill short-term needs in times of emergency, Egan said. “It is meant to give agencies operational flexibility,” he said. “The unemployment compensation loophole is casting a negative light on the whole program.”

Egan wasn’t sure why more double-dipping retirees don’t file for unemployment. It could be many of them are unaware of the loophole. Or some may choose not do accept the benefit because they think it’s inappropriate.

State Rep. C. Adam Harris, R-Juniata County, informed his legislative colleagues he was “astonished” to learn of the triple-dipping. He authored the bill to close the loophole.

“We’ve made great strides in the past two years to reform our unemployment compensation system,” Gordner said. “And we must continue to ensure that the system is strong to provide benefits to those who truly qualify.”

John Finnerty works in the Harrisburg Bureau for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. He can be reached by email at jfinnerty@cnhi.com or on Twitter @cnhipa.

1
Text Only
Local News
Business Marquee
AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks