February 16, 2009

Civil workers medical benefits adding up

A study of recent data found state and local U.S. governments are looking at more than $1 trillion in unfunded retirement benefits

Cities, public schools and other local authorities are facing a shortfall of $500 billion, while state governments have $445 billion in unfunded medical benefits for retirees on their books, USA Today reported Monday.

On top of that, the federal government has $1.2 trillion in unfunded obligations for medical benefits for retired workers. As baby boomers age, Medicare and Social Security push the total of unfunded promises to $50 trillion, the newspaper said.

States and larger cities were mandated to report the total of benefits obligated to retirees for the first time last year. The figures come from a USA Today review of the data.

Many governments have the authority to cut benefits, the newspaper said. Others, such as Alaska, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Utah, have begun setting money aside to cover future medical costs, the newspaper said.