RSCS Teacher Saved From Heavy Hand
ALBANY – State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, today announced passage of state Senate Law 6420, assisting a retired Otsego County teacher who the New York State Teachers Retirement System was forcing to repay nearly $64,000 due to an NYSTRS’ computation error.
The law requires the retirement system to “shoulder the responsibility” for its error, Seward said. Companion legislation introduced by state Rep. John Salka, R-121st, passed the Assembly. The law must now be signed by the governor.
Katherine Sweeney, a retired Richfield Springs Central School teacher, “was the unknowing victim of an accounting error,” Seward said. “By the time the NYSTRS discovered its error, after 14 years, and decided to go after Mrs. Sweeney, the bill had multiplied to nearly $50,000. To compound matters, an additional $14,000 calculation error was discovered, pushing the amount she ‘owed’ even higher. In my mind this was an injustice plain and simple.”
Mrs. Sweeney had retired on July 1, 2004. In July 2018, she was informed that due to a miscalculation of her benefits, she had been overpaid $49,311 and had to repay the funds. Then in 2019, the NYSTRS determined the overpayment was even higher and added another $14,000 to Mrs. Sweeney’s bill bringing the amount she owed to approximately $64,000.
The NYSTRS had planned to reduce Mrs. Sweeney’s benefit checks over a 10-year period to recover the funds paid in error.
“This was an unusual situation and I’m glad Katherine called my office for help. The retirement system made the mistake and needed to shoulder responsibility. While it has taken some time, I am hopeful that we can finally give Katherine some peace of mind and bring this matter to a close for her and her husband,” said Senator Seward.