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Miami

Cypen & Cypen
NEWSLETTER
for
APRIL 27, 2006

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001

1. GEORGIA FINALLY GIVES BLACK COPS THEIR DUE:

As predicted (see C&C Newsletter for January 19, 2006, Item 3), Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation granting compensation to black police officers who were barred under a Jim Crow-era law from taking part in a state pension fund. The Associated Press reports that the new measure allows current law enforcement employees to buy into the Peace Officers Annuity and Benefit Fund for service before 1976 -- the year the program was desegregated -- by paying $10 a month for each year of service, with the state matching their contributions. However, officers who have already retired are still not eligible to receive benefits for service before 1976. Proposed legislation to change that situation stalled during the legislative session that ended in March. It is unclear how many state and local officers are eligible or will apply, or how much the measure might cost the state.

2. POLICE DEPARTMENT CANNOT BE SUED:

Tobkin brought an action against a number of parties, including the City of Hollywood Police Department. Where a police department is an integral part of city government as the vehicle through which the city government fulfills its policing functions, it is not an entity subject to suit. Thus, a Florida appellate court affirmed dismissal of the police department, without prejudice to an amendment to the complaint adding the proper entity (read: City of Hollywood). Tobkin v. City of Hollywood Police Department, 31 Fla. L. Weekly D1058 (Fla. 4th DCA, April 12, 2006).

3. IS YOUR PENSION PLAN RETIRING BEFORE YOU?:

According to BusinessWeek, even healthy companies are freezing or eliminating traditional plans. Can you tell if your plan is in trouble? One sign to watch for is if your company’s competitors are freezing benefits or if they simply do not offer a traditional pension plan at all. Another approach is to identify patterns emerging from company benefits policy. (For example, has the company been shifting employee and retiree health costs or did the company have a supplemental plan with matching that the company no longer matches.) Also, read everything about the company. Executives say that negative developments in any of the following can trigger a freeze in their defined pension benefit plans: company cash flow (cited by 60%), company earnings (48%), lower credit rating (43%), company share price, shareholders’ equity or administrative costs of managing the plan (21%). When successful companies like ones in the news freeze their pension plans, it is time to be realistic and admit that it could happen at your company too.

4. HOW SECURE ARE RETIREMENT NEST EGGS?:

A new Issue in Brief from Center for Retirement Research at Boston College posits that life’s uncertainties can upend the best-laid retirement plans. Health problems and job layoffs are common as people approach retirement, although most Americans lack adequate protection when disaster strikes. Inadequate health insurance exposes people to high out-of-pocket costs when serious medical conditions develop. The safety net is meager for people who lose their jobs or are forced to retire early because of declining health. Unemployment benefits generally last no more than 26 weeks, and only those who satisfy Social Security’s strict eligibility requirements receive disability benefits. Health problems, job losses, widowhood and divorce in the years immediately prior to retirement can rob people of financial security later. Workers need to consider these risks as they develop their retirement plans. Those who wait until their fifties to begin saving seriously, as many do, may find it too late to protect themselves against unexpected setbacks and the financial consequences.

5. QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“The future has a way of arriving unannounced.” George Will

6. WE’VE MOVED!:

After almost a half-century in our old location, we have moved to 777 Arthur Godfrey Road -- one-half block East. If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by to see our new digs. (Because of our move, last week’s, this week’s and next week’s Newsletters are somewhat abridged.)

Copyright, 1996-2006, all rights reserved.

Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.


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