Underestimated life expectancy is yet another hidden cost of the nation’s guaranteed public employee pension plans. For decades these plans have systematically used outdated mortality tables — tables that assumed that retirees would die years earlier than is actually occurring. Of course, this “miscalculation” results in bigger pension payouts and “unexpected” increases in the unfunded pension obligation.
If an honest public pension actuary (government employee or “independent” auditor) tried to be more realistic with their mortality projections, they could count on being replaced in short order. The entire public pension actuary role as been a systematic fraud for generations, and only now are we facing the inevitable consequences.
FINALLY the independent Society of Actuaries has put together mortality tables based on the mortality experience of public sector employees. See the article below.
Not surprisingly, the experience shows that public employees live significantly longer than the outdated mortality tables used by essentially all public sector actuaries — thus grossly underestimating the total pension obligation of just about every public employee pension plan in America.
EXCERPT: After reviewing 46 million life-years and 580,000 deaths from 78 public plans and 35 public pension systems in the US between 2008 and 2013, the actuaries found that teachers have the longest life expectancy at age 87.7 in men, 90.03 for women. General employees live an average of 85.49 (male) and 88.48 (female), while safety professionals usually die at ages 85.27 (male) and 87.68 (female).
Here’s more detail:
“You get what you pay for.” This cliché is a common refrain of public employee labor union bosses when justifying their members’ often ridiculously high employee compensation levels.
Of course, it’s not true. Lower paid private sector employees operating under the normal carrot and stick free market incentives can usually do the same work at the same level of quality. Indeed, usually one gets SUPERIOR quality (and especially QUANTITATIVE) work output under private employer supervision.
But it IS true that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to public pension actuaries — both government actuaries and “outside” pension actuary auditors. If you want to work in this arcane field, you have to accept the most optimistic pension projection factors — the false factors that inevitably result in huge unfunded pension liabilities.
Such compliant actuaries must accept the fake assumptions — or they won’t be long employed in this field. Every actuary understands this — only the “bought and paid for” actuaries are allowed near government pension work.
This widespread corruption has little to do with the AMOUNT of the pay. It has EVERYTHING to do with who SELECTS and retains such actuaries. Public employee labor union bosses, their thrall politicians and government administrators decide who gets the pension actuarial work.
The most criminal group in this farce are the government administrators — people with the highest salaries who profit the MOST from high percentage pension payouts. Most of these charlatans actually DO understand finance, and have always been able to see that the pensions were woefully underfunded. Think city managers and county administrative officers.
It’s been an ongoing tragedy that clueless politicians look to these con artists as their “go to” source of wisdom regarding pension levels and costs. Never do they consider the huge monetary conflict of interest these administrators face.
Teachers live the longest, with general public employees the next, and safety personnel come in last. That’s the result of a study by the Society of Actuaries, which created the first mortality tables that track the life expectancies of public pensioners.
After reviewing 46 million life-years and 580,000 deaths from 78 public plans and 35 public pension systems in the US between 2008 and 2013, the actuaries found that teachers have the longest life expectancy at age 87.7 in men, 90.03 for women. General employees live an average of 85.49 (male) and 88.48 (female), while safety professionals usually die at ages 85.27 (male) and 87.68 (female).
These numbers also mean larger pension obligations for teachers’ pension plan officials.
The society’s tables also noted that a higher income may link to lower mortality. According to the data, income beat job category as the top mortality factor.
“People who participate in higher-income plans are often associated to having some sort of health and wellness benefits, and that leads to better access at times to care,” Dale Hall, the society’s managing director, told CIO, adding that those with more disposable income allows for greater flexibility in case of an emergency as well as the ability to lead healthier lifestyles.
The study was conducted after the organization saw a difference in mortality levels during its review of private pensions.
“We wanted to provide new updated mortality information specifically for public retirement plans that then actuaries and the plan sponsors could use to assess what the funded status and what the liability in the plan can be given the variety of assumptions,” Hall said.
For these expectations to be met, a plan typically has a yearly evaluation where the actuary working with the plan sponsor, looking at such items as mortality and mortality improvement, investment assumptions, inflation, and others. Said Hall, “It helps shed some light on another data point that people could look at to help those assumptions.”
Since the financial impact of the table’s conclusions will vary based on job category, the Society of Actuaries said it “encourages professionals in the field to perform their own analysis” to understand them and what it means for each plan and/or pension system’s funding status.
“This is hopefully a helpful piece of information that allows a state to assess its liability again and set assumptions including mortality in conjunction with a lot of other things to see what the current liability will be and, in turn, that probably helps them make funding decisions,” said Hall.