Pension Benefits

Best Best & Krieger LLP attorneys bring years of experience working with board members, management, staff and bargaining group representatives to derive solutions to the pension benefits challenges public agencies face. Serving as employee benefits and retirement counsel to a wide variety of public agency clients, including joint powers authorities, counties, cities, special districts and school districts, we advise on the design and administration of employee and retiree benefit programs and related issues.
 
Our firm is at the forefront in advising on public agency obligations under California’s vested rights doctrine and the interplay with state, regional or local statutes establishing those benefits. We have led the way in evaluating pension obligations under various pension systems, including statewide, regional and stand-alone systems, and the modifications of their pension obligations. We also work on proposals that include creation of multiple-tiered benefit arrangements for new employees, cost-sharing arrangements, increased employee contributions, and adoption of defined contribution plans as an alternative to the defined benefit option.

BB&K lawyers regularly help public agency clients navigate the complex legal issues involving pension benefits, including:

  • Application of the mandatory coverage rules for Social Security
  • Interpretation, effect and application of defined benefit plan obligations under state law
  • Legal obligations under existing plans
  • Fiduciary obligations arising under the California Constitution and statutes and parallel obligations defined under ERISA
  • Design of investment risk management policies and monitoring programs
  • State and federal tax law implications of pension contributions, including employer-employee cost-sharing arrangements, and the impact of these laws on benefits that public entities provide to employees, retirees and governing board members 


Through representing numerous public agency clients that have one or more collective bargaining groups, we have become skilled at identifying options to achieve pension goals and ensuring proposals are both legally permissible and acceptable to bargaining representatives.
 
Our attorneys are among the leading authorities on California’s pension reform bill, AB 340 (2012), and bring a wealth of experience in the laws and legal principles that directly impact the pension benefits that public agencies maintain, including:

  • 401(a) defined benefit and defined contribution plans
  • 457(b) deferred compensation plans
  • 403(b) plans for school employers
  • Irrevocable trusts to prefund pension benefits

 
BB&K lawyers possess the necessary intimate familiarity with the body of California law that has defined the parameters of the vested rights doctrine and a clear understanding of whether and when the constraints of the vested rights doctrine apply. We also have significant experience with ERISA, including the provisions that apply to the pension plans of public agency clients, and with the state laws that apply to state, regional and local pension systems, including applicable provisions of the California Constitution, the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, the Public Employees Retirement Law, the County Employees’ Retirement Law of 1937, and the laws applicable to municipal and special district pension plans.

Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

We provide public employers with strategic counsel and advice on a variety of employee benefit issues. Learn more about all of our benefits, pension and compensation services for public agencies:

David Allen

David Allen

Pension Consultant*

(916) 329-3688

Areas of Focus: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang

Partner

(916) 329-3685

Areas of Focus: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Karen S. Fogarty

Karen S. Fogarty

Paralegal*

(951) 826-8403

Areas of Focus: Business | Business Litigation | Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Laurie A. Ibarra

Laurie A. Ibarra

Paralegal*

(951) 826-8354

Areas of Focus: Business | Business Litigation | Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Trusts & Estates
Marissa Morimoto

Marissa Morimoto

Associate

(951) 826-8277

Areas of Focus: Business | Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Susan Neethling

Susan Neethling

Of Counsel

(916) 329-3687

Areas of Focus: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Isabel C. Safie

Isabel C. Safie

Partner

(951) 826-8309

Areas of Focus: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Public Sector: Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation | Tax
BB&K Webinar Sep 18, 2018

Pension Costs and Financial Pressure

Avoiding Municipal Bankruptcy Series

70 Years of Pension Precedent Could Soon Be Weakened by the California Supreme Court
Authored Articles & Publications Aug 16, 2018

70 Years of Pension Precedent Could Soon Be Weakened by the California Supreme Court

Isabel Safie Provides Insight Into Lawsuits That May Have Significant Implications for Public Agencies Facing High Pension Costs in PublicCEO

Partners Roger Crawford and Isabel Safie Named Top Labor & Employment Lawyers
Press Releases Jul 19, 2018

Partners Roger Crawford and Isabel Safie Named Top Labor & Employment Lawyers

Daily Journal Releases Annual List of 75

The Anticipated Demise of the Vested-Rights Doctrine
Authored Articles & Publications Jul 11, 2018

The Anticipated Demise of the Vested-Rights Doctrine

Cases Before State’s High Court Could Mean Big Changes for Retirement Benefits Writes Jeffrey Chang in PublicCEO

BB&K Webinar Jun 12, 2018

Preparing for Changes in the “Vested Rights Doctrine” - Understanding Plan Design Options

BB&K Free Webinar

[WEBINAR] Preparing for Changes in the “Vested Rights Doctrine” - Understanding Plan Design Options
Videos Jun 12, 2018

[WEBINAR] Preparing for Changes in the “Vested Rights Doctrine” - Understanding Plan Design Options

BB&K Webinar

Lessons Learned from San Jose and other Attempted Solutions
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Lessons Learned from San Jose and other Attempted Solutions

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment – The Complex Puzzle of Funding Our Future
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment – The Complex Puzzle of Funding Our Future

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Pension Liability by the Numbers
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Pension Liability by the Numbers

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

BB&K Event Apr 24, 2018

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

A BB&K Premier Event

Perspectives: The Practical Effects of Today's Pension Programs
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Perspectives: The Practical Effects of Today's Pension Programs

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Federal Legislative Discussion – Where Do We Invest?
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Federal Legislative Discussion – Where Do We Invest?

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Legal Update: Is the California Rule in Flux?
Videos Apr 24, 2018

Legal Update: Is the California Rule in Flux?

The Bill is Due: Now What? Infrastructure, Pensions and the Environment

Event Feb 20-23, 2018

California Society of Municipal Finance Officers

Annual Conference

Settlement Reached with CalPERS on Behalf of Truckee
Client Successes Feb 15, 2018

Settlement Reached with CalPERS on Behalf of Truckee

BB&K Represented Town in Negotiations

[WEBINAR] The Art of Reducing OPEB Liabilities
Videos Oct 19, 2017

[WEBINAR] The Art of Reducing OPEB Liabilities

BB&K Municipal Law Webinar Series

Connections the Key for Resolving CalPERS Issues
Client Successes Oct 5, 2017

Connections the Key for Resolving CalPERS Issues

BB&K Partner Isabel Safie Helped Two Public Agencies Overcome Problems

Event Aug 8, 2017

Public Sector Benefits 2017: Big Ticket Items You Need to Plan For

The Pun Group Accounting Conference

BB&K Welcomes Jeffrey Chang, Susan Neethling and David Allen to the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice
Press Releases Aug 4, 2017

BB&K Welcomes Jeffrey Chang, Susan Neethling and David Allen to the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice

Additions Expand Services for Public Agency Employers

Key Contacts

Connected Industries

Related Practices