State workers attend meeting to stay updated on Louisiana’s retirement system


LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you work for the state or have retired from a state job, you should know about LASERS, the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System.

Cindy Rougeou, executive director of LASERS took to SOWELA to educate the Lake Charles community.

“Back in the 1950′s the state of Louisiana decided that it would be more cost effective to simply provide their own retirement system," Rougeou said. "In this case, LASERS, rather than enter in to social security.”

Since these employees aren’t paying into social security, they may run into problems if they have jobs outside of the state system.

“If one of our retirees also works in the private sector sufficient to earn a social security benefit, that way the federal government has decided they’re going to reduce or offset a portion of their social security benefit. They also receive a laser’s pension. It is fundamentally unfair,” Rougeou said. “If you receive a laser’s pension and your spouse works in the private sector and earns social security, you will also be offset for any spousal social security that you might receive.”

That’s the case with Barbara McManus. She’s a widow and says this law is keeping her from receiving any spousal social security benefits.

“My husband died in 1999 and I cannot draw anything from his social security," McManus said. “I lost all of his income, and I can’t draw anything from what he worked for all of his life. We feel that we’ve been jeopardized by these laws.”

Rougeou says that’s why it’s important to have meetings like this one. It’s a way to educate state workers about this offset issue and initiate change.

“Probably the best way to change it is to make your voice heard," Rougeou said. "The way to make your voice heard is to reach out to your congressional delegation.”

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