TITLE 8
Courts and Civil Procedure–Courts

CHAPTER 8-3
Justices of Supreme, Superior, and Family Courts

SECTION 8-3-15


§ 8-3-15 Cost-of-living allowance.

(a) All justices of the supreme court, superior court, family court, or district court, or their surviving spouses or domestic partners, who retire after January 1, 1970, and who receive a retirement allowance pursuant to the provisions of this title shall, on the first day of January next following the third anniversary date of retirement, receive a cost-of-living retirement adjustment in addition to his or her retirement allowance in an amount equal to three percent (3%) of the original retirement allowance. In each succeeding year thereafter during the month of January, the retirement allowance shall be increased an additional three percent (3%) of the original allowance, not compounded, to be continued during the lifetime of the justice or his or her surviving spouse or domestic partner. For the purpose of such computation, credit shall be given for a full calendar year regardless of the effective date of the retirement allowance.

(b) Any justice who retired prior to January 31, 1977, shall be deemed for the purpose of this section to have retired on January 1, 1977.

(c) For justices not eligible to retire as of September 30, 2009, and not eligible upon passage of this article, and for their beneficiaries, the cost of living adjustment described in subsection (a) above shall only apply to the first thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000) of retirement allowance, indexed annually, and shall commence upon the third (3rd) anniversary of the date of retirement or when the retiree reaches age sixty-five (65), whichever is later. The thirty-five thousand dollar ($35,000) limit shall increase annually by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumer (CPI-U) as published by the United States Department of Labor Statistics determined as of September 30 of the prior calendar year or three percent (3%), whichever is less. The first thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000), as indexed, of retirement allowance shall be multiplied by the percentage of increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) as published by the United States Department of Labor Statistics determined as of September 30 of the prior calendar year or three percent (3%), whichever is less, on the month following the anniversary date of each succeeding year. For justices eligible to retire as of September 30, 2009, or eligible upon passage of this article, and for their beneficiaries, the provisions of this subsection (c) shall not apply.

(d) This subsection (d) shall be effective for the period July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015.

(1) Notwithstanding the prior paragraphs of this section, and subject to paragraph (d)(2) below, for all present and former justices, active and retired justices, and beneficiaries receiving any retirement, disability, or death allowance or benefit of any kind, whether provided for or on behalf of justices engaged on or prior to December 31, 1989, as a non-contributory justice or engaged after December 31, 1989, as a contributory justice, the annual benefit adjustment provided in any calendar year under this section shall be equal to (A) multiplied by (B) where (A) is equal to the percentage determined by subtracting five and one-half percent (5.5%) (the "subtrahend") from the Five-Year Average Investment Return of the retirement system determined as of the last day of the plan year preceding the calendar year in which the adjustment is granted, said percentage not to exceed four percent (4%) and not to be less than zero percent (0%), and (B) is equal to the lesser of the justice's retirement allowance or the first twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) of retirement allowance, such twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) amount to be indexed annually in the same percentage as determined under (d)(1)(A) above. The "Five-Year Average Investment Return" shall mean the average of the investment return of the most recent five (5) plan years as determined by the retirement board. Subject to paragraph (d)(2) below, the benefit adjustment provided by this paragraph shall commence upon the third (3rd) anniversary of the date of retirement or the date on which the retiree reaches his or her Social Security retirement age, whichever is later. In the event the retirement board adjusts the actuarially assumed rate of return for the system, either upward or downward, the subtrahend shall be adjusted either upward or downward in the same amount.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (d)(3), the benefit adjustments under this section for any plan year shall be suspended in their entirety unless the Funded Ratio of the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island, the Judicial Retirement Benefits Trust, and the State Police Retirement Benefits Trust, calculated by the system's actuary on an aggregate basis, exceeds eighty percent (80%) in which event the benefit adjustment will be reinstated for all justices for such plan year.

In determining whether a funding level under this paragraph (d)(2) has been achieved, the actuary shall calculate the funding percentage after taking into account the reinstatement of any current or future benefit adjustment provided under this section.

(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (d)(2), in each fifth plan year commencing after June 30, 2012, commencing with the plan year ending June 30, 2017, and subsequently at intervals of five (5) plan years, a benefit adjustment shall be calculated and made in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) above until the Funded Ratio of the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island, the Judicial Retirement Benefits Trust, and the State Police Retirement Benefits Trust, calculated by the system's actuary on an aggregate basis, exceeds eighty percent (80%).

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the provisions of this paragraph (d) of § 8-3-15 shall become effective July 1, 2012, and shall apply to any benefit adjustment not granted on or prior to June 30, 2012.

(e) This subsection (e) shall become effective July 1, 2015.

(1)(A) As soon as administratively reasonable following the enactment into law of this subsection (e)(1)(A), a one-time benefit adjustment shall be provided to justices and/or beneficiaries of justices who retired on or before June 30, 2012, in the amount of two percent (2%) of the lesser of either the justice's retirement allowance or the first twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) of the justice's retirement allowance. This one-time benefit adjustment shall be provided without regard to the retiree's age or number of years since retirement.

(B) Notwithstanding the prior subsections of this section, for all present and former justices, active and retired justices, and beneficiaries receiving any retirement, disability or death allowance or benefit of any kind, whether provided for or on behalf of justices engaged on or prior to December 31, 1989, as a non-contributory justice or engaged after December 31, 1989, as a contributory justice, the annual benefit adjustment provided in any calendar year under this section for adjustments on and after January 1, 2016, and subject to subsection (e)(2) below, shall be equal to (I) multiplied by (II):

(I) Shall equal the sum of fifty percent (50%) of (i) plus fifty percent (50%) of (ii) where:

(i) Is equal to the percentage determined by subtracting five and one-half percent (5.5%) (the "subtrahend") from the five-year average investment return of the retirement system determined as of the last day of the plan year preceding the calendar year in which the adjustment is granted, said percentage not to exceed four percent (4%) and not to be less than zero percent (0%). The "five-year average investment return" shall mean the average of the investment returns of the most recent five (5) plan years as determined by the retirement board. In the event the retirement board adjusts the actuarially assumed rate of return for the system, either upward or downward, the subtrahend shall be adjusted either upward or downward in the same amount.

(ii) Is equal to the lesser of three percent (3%) or the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) as published by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics determined as of September 30 of the prior calendar year. In no event shall the sum of (i) plus (ii) exceed three and one-half percent (3.5%) or be less than zero percent (0%).

(II) Is equal to the lesser of either the justice's retirement allowance or the first twenty-five thousand eight hundred and fifty-five dollars ($25,855) of retirement allowance, such amount to be indexed annually in the same percentage as determined under subsection (e)(1)(B)(I) above.

The benefit adjustments provided by this subsection (e)(1)(B) shall be provided to all retirees entitled to receive a benefit adjustment as of June 30, 2012, under the law then in effect, and for all other retirees the benefit adjustments shall commence upon the third anniversary of the date of retirement or the date on which the retiree reaches his or her Social Security retirement age, whichever is later.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (e)(3), the benefit adjustments under subsection (e)(1)(B) for any plan year shall be suspended in their entirety unless the funded ratio of the employees' retirement system of Rhode Island, the judicial retirement benefits trust, and the state police retirement benefits trust, calculated by the system's actuary on an aggregate basis, exceeds eighty percent (80%) in which event the benefit adjustment will be reinstated for all justices for such plan year.

In determining whether a funding level under this subsection (e)(2) has been achieved, the actuary shall calculate the funding percentage after taking into account the reinstatement of any current or future benefit adjustment provided under this section.

(3) Notwithstanding subsection (e)(2), in each fourth plan year commencing after June 30, 2012, commencing with the plan year ending June 30, 2016, and subsequently at intervals of four plan years: (i) A benefit adjustment shall be calculated and made in accordance with paragraph (e)(1)(B) above; and (ii) Effective for members and/or beneficiaries of members who retired on or before June 30, 2015, the dollar amount in subsection (e)(1)(B)(II) of twenty-five thousand eight hundred and fifty-five dollars ($25,855) shall be replaced with thirty-one thousand and twenty-six dollars ($31,026) until the funded ratio of the employees' retirement system of Rhode Island, the judicial retirement benefits trust, and the state police retirement benefits trust, calculated by the system's actuary on an aggregate basis, exceeds eighty percent (80%).

(A) Effective for members and or beneficiaries of members who have retired on or before July 1, 2015, a one-time stipend of five hundred dollars ($500) shall be payable within sixty (60) days following the enactment of the legislation implementing this provision, and a second one-time stipend of five hundred dollars ($500) in the same month of the following year. These stipends shall be payable to all retired members or beneficiaries receiving a benefit as of the applicable payment date and shall not be considered cost of living adjustments under the prior provisions of this § 8-3-15.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1979, ch. 19, § 4; P.L. 1983, ch. 76, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 510, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 23, art. 16, § 3; P.L. 2011, ch. 408, § 15; P.L. 2011, ch. 409, § 15; P.L. 2015, ch. 141, art. 21, § 22; P.L. 2016, ch. 511, art. 1, § 5.)