Double Dip

By Xerxes Wilson | LSU Student

To most, retirement means doing something besides working. For some in higher education, it means ballooning one's income.

Six administrators within the LSU System Office receive state retirement pensions while being paid by the LSU System, which forks over more than $650,000 in salaries to employees who still receive or have previously received state retirement benefits.

On the LSU Baton Rouge campus itself, some 50 employees with previous retirement history, collect salaries ranging from $4,800 to $165,000. In total, the campus pays out about $2.4 million in salaries to employees who have previously retired, according to the same records provided by the System Office.

This double-dipping, as it is known, is legal and fairly common within state government, particularly in higher education. In some cases, it can even become triple-dipping.

The higher education institutions in the LSU System use two state retirement systems: the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) and the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS).

TRSL has rules for retiring from its system then returning to work while drawing a pension. LASERS also has rules for re-entering taxpayer supported work after retiring. These rules, in some cases, include forfeiting received benefits and reducing income.

It is possible, however, to retire, begin receiving LASERS retirement benefits, rehire with the University System or on a campus with a salary and accumulate a new set of benefits in the TRSL retirement system.

TRSL confirmed this, but the Human Resources Management at LSU refused to make any comment on the story or offer any explanations.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Carolyn Hargrave accounts for the largest salary at $235,472 annually while on retirement. Special Assistant to the President Bob Keaton receives $164,550,, according to System Office records.

These salaries are partially funded through fees levied by the System Office on individual campuses. They are also partially comprised of other "self-generated" funds which includes the System's claim on 10 percent of royalties from intellectual properties such as trademarks and patents generated on the individual college campuses.

Public records indicate multiple administrators at the System Office are not only receiving a salary while technically retired, but also are possibly accruing a separate benefits package through TRSL — thus triple dipping.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report in February which found the cost for state employee benefits increased by 56 percent — little more than $2 million — between July 2005 and July 2011 even though the overall headcount in state government decreased by 11,210 or 10 percent.

The auditor's report said the increase was due largely to higher health care costs, cost-of-living adjustments for retirees, and the massive unfunded accrued liability in Louisiana's retirement system.