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Cypen & Cypen
JULY 19, 2007

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001


USA Today reports that a surge in fatal shootings has contributed to a dramatic increase in deaths of law enforcement officers during the first six months of this year, the highest midyear body count in nearly three decades. The annual count by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 39 officers were killed in shootings, up from 27 during the first six months last year. The abrupt midyear increase comes less than a year after the organization reported that 145 officers were killed in the line of duty in all of 2006, the lowest annual number in eight years. That year, fatal shootings dropped to 52, from 59 in 2005. The count, viewed as one of the most reliable sources of law enforcement deaths in the country, shows traffic-related fatalities remain the primary cause of officer deaths. That number was up 36% so far this year. Traffic deaths include six officers who were struck while outside their vehicles, according to the report. In all, 101 officers have been killed in the line of duty from January through June. Law enforcement analysts say that recent spikes in violent crime across the country may be a factor in the rising shooting deaths this year. The Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm should read this piece (see C&C Newsletter for June 28, 2007, Item 6 and C&C Newsletter July 12, 2007, Item 1).


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has amended its regulations under Age Discrimination in Employment Act in light of the recent United States Supreme Court decision in General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581 (2004). In that case, some 200 employees between the ages of 40 and 50 brought suit regarding retirement benefits. The company and United Auto Workers had entered into a collective bargaining agreement in which future retirement benefits were effectively eliminated for employees under age 50. Supreme Court reasoned that ADEA only prohibits employers from discriminating against older employees but does not prohibit employers from favoring older workers. Now, 29 CFR §1625.2 has been amended to read:

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual in any aspect of employment because that individual is 40 years old or older, unless one of the statutory exceptions applies. Favoring an older individual over a younger individual because of age is not unlawful discrimination under the ADEA, even if the younger individual is at least 40 years old. However, the ADEA does not require employers to prefer older individuals and does not affect applicable state, municipal, or local laws that prohibit such preferences.

Thus, EEOC’s revisions conform to Supreme Court precedent.


According to a news release from the American Academy of Actuaries, gender-rated differences in the American work culture have resulted in lower Social Security benefits for women. The actuaries cite differences in wage histories, greater probabilities of outliving a spouse and being single in retirement and the greater likelihood for women to be temporarily out of the workforce, among the differences that cause their benefits to be smaller even though calculated using gender-neutral rules. The Academy’s issue brief also determines that women, who on average are more likely to have insufficient income in retirement, are in turn more dependent on Social Security. In fact, more than 40% of females aged 62 or older rely on Social Security for more than 90% of their income, as opposed to 28% for males aged 62 or older. Additionally, poverty rates for single women aged 65 or older are among the highest of any subgroup in the United States.


A California state commission charged with finding ways to pay for increasing retirement benefits to public employees recently learned that California governments are coming up $63 Billion short in their bid fully to fund pension programs. But, according to the Contra Costa Times, there is also good news in a California Research Bureau report presented to the Governor’s commission: local and state governments are in better shape than they were decades ago, funding 89% of their pension obligations. Despite the $63 Billion shortfall, California’s pension systems are at a healthy funding level, up 11 percentage points since 1991.


In a recent study, the United States Government Accountability Office found federal policies offer incentives to retire both earlier and later than Social Security’s full retirement age depending on a worker’s circumstances. The availability of reduced Social Security benefits at age 62 provides an incentive to retire well before the program’s age requirements for full retirement benefits; however, the gradual increase in this age from 65 to 67 provides an incentive to wait in order to secure full benefits. The elimination of the Social Security earnings test in 2000 for those at or above their full retirement age also provides an incentive to work. Medicare’s eligibility age of 65 continues to provide a strong incentive for those without retiree health insurance to wait until then to retire, but it can also be an incentive to retire before the full retirement age. Meanwhile, federal tax policy creates incentives to retire earlier, albeit indirectly, by setting broad parameters for the ages at which retirement funds can be withdrawn from pensions without tax penalties. Nearly half of workers report being fully retired before turning age 63 and start drawing Social Security benefits at the earliest possible opportunity -- age 62. Early evidence, however, suggests small changes in this pattern. Traditionally, some workers started benefits when they reached age 65. Recently, workers with full retirement ages after they turned 65 waited until those ages to start benefits. Also, following elimination of the earnings test, some indications are emerging of increased workforce participation among people at or above full retirement age. GAO’s analysis indicates that retiree health insurance and pension plans are strongly associated with when workers retire. After controlling for other influences such as income, GAO found that those with retiree health insurance were substantially more likely to retire before the Medicare eligibility age of 65 than those without. GAO also found that men with defined benefit plans were more likely to retire early (before age 62) than those without, and men and women with defined contribution plans were less likely to do so. GAO believes Congress may wish to consider changes to law, programs and policies that support retirement security, including retirement ages, in order to provide a set of signals that work in tandem to encourage work at older ages. GAO-07-753 (July 2007).


On development: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff makes reference to a great poster that says “Life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been a real life you would have been instructed where to go and what to do.” This humor reminds us not to take life so seriously. If one looks at life and its many challenges as a series of tests, one begins to see each issue as an opportunity to grow, a change to roll with the punches. One always has a chance to succeed, in the sense of rising above that which is challenging. If, however, one views each new issue as a serious battle that must be won in order to survive, he is probably in for a very rocky journey. Yo, Adrian.


“We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.” Will Rogers

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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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