Supreme Court Weighing Fate Of Kentucky Retirement System

Louisville, KY. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the fate of Kentucky's retirement system after hearing a challenge from a former public employee that the plan discriminates against older workers.

Attorneys for the employee, retired Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Charles Lickteig, argued on Wednesday that the state's plan is set up so two employees who become disabled, each with the same total time of service but of different ages, could receive dramatically different benefits.

"In calculating the retirement benefits owed to disabled workers, Kentucky uses age as an explicit decision-making factor in a way that disadvantages older workers," said Malcolm Stewart, representing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which challenged the state law.

Robert Klausner, a Plantation, Fla., attorney representing the Kentucky Retirement Systems, said age is only one factor in determining benefits.

"Retirement eligibility in Kentucky is based on 20 years of service or age 55," he said. "Age is not the only determinant. And 'age' is not a bad word," Klausner said.

Lickteig became disabled at age 61 after working for the sheriff's office for 18 years. He applied for state disability benefits, which were denied because he was eligible for normal retirement benefits. In his complaint with EEOC, Lickteig contended the state's retirement system discriminated against older workers who became disabled.

The high court is expected to rule on the case by June.

Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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