The Florida Retirement System administers most pension and retirement benefits in the state of Florida. The Florida RS covers general employees, public safety employees, and teachers. FRS assets are managed by a separate state agency, the State Board of Administration. Since 2000, new employees can choose between two plans to select as a primary benefit: a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan.
Chapter 121 of the Florida Administrative Code deals with retirement. The laws covered in Chapter 121 set forth those positions for which participation in the FRS is mandatory. Also covered are retirement eligibility and benefit calculations. Chapter 60 of the Florida Administrative Code covers rules that deal with retirement issues including membership, benefits, and administrative procedures.
The Florida State Board of Administration manages pension funds for nearly 450,000 retirees, including public employees and teachers. FRS assets represent 80% of the total amount managed by the Florida State Board of Administration, but 37 other funds also fall under their purview.
The Florida legislature amended Section 121.051 of Florida Statutes to allow for the optional withdrawal of instructors of state community colleges or charter technical career centers sponsored by state community colleges in the Florida Retirement System. Employees who choose to withdraw from FRS have the option to enroll in the State Community College System Optional Retirement Program if provided by the employing agency.
Per the U.S. Census, in FY 2015, employer contributions to Florida state and local government pension plans were 2.92 percent of all state and local government direct general spending.
Article I, Section 10 of the Florida Constitution provides that no law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed. This constitutional provision has been interpreted by the courts to protect vested pension benefits. Once an individual attains eligibility for a retirement benefit, the benefit is afforded constitutional protection. Case law interprets the impairment of contract protections in Art. I, §10 to permit only prospective adjustments to pension benefits. Florida Sheriff's Association v. Department of Administration, 408 So.2d 1033 (Fla. 1981); State ex rei. Stringer v. Lee, 2 So.2d 127 (1941); Anders v. Nicholson, 150 So. 639(Fla. 1933); O'Connell v. State Dept. of Admin, 557 So.2d 609 (Fla. App. 3 Dist. Feb. 2006)(holding that benefits vested upon attainment of normal retirement eligibility). In 2012, a state court trial judge in Williams v. Scott (Case No. 2011CA1584) struck down amendments to the state retirement system that increased the employee contribution and eliminated the COLA for future years of service. (FL CONST., Article I, §10) Source: Robert Klausner, Esq., State Constitutional Protections for Public Sector Retirement Benefits