This past June, the Federal Trustee designated the Official Committee of Retired Employees of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to represent the collective interests of the retired employees of the Government of Puerto Rico in relation to Title III cases under PROMESA. This designation represents an important achievement, because it empowers public retirees with a strong voice to defend their pensions, benefits and well-being in Tittle III cases to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt.
Some may wonder what is the social and economic role of the community of public retirees and why is so important to protect the best interests of this group? The answer is simple, as retired employees from the Government of Puerto Rico we represent an economy of $2,500 million a year in income from pensions and benefits. We are an important consumer group, that spends most of its disposable income in Puerto Rico; and we play a leading role in our families and communities. We have decided to stay in Puerto Rico even though the overall cost of living here is higher compared to other jurisdictions in the United States.
In 2016, 23.3% of Puerto Rico’s population was over 60 years old. In this group 160,000 are retired employees from the Government of Puerto Rico, who receive a monthly pension and benefits for their years in public service. The average pension of a retired public employee in Puerto Rico is $1,100 a month, most of which is spent locally. Thanks to the community of retired employees from the Government of Puerto Rico there is a strong demand for services and products related to the health industry, including: doctors, health insurance, hospitals and pharmacies. In addition, our community of retired public employees represents an important market for supermarkets, cafeterias and restaurants, many of which have products and services specifically targeted to our community.
In social terms, the community of retired public employees in Puerto Rico plays a vital role. Many of us are required to take on important physical, emotional and financial responsibilities within our families and communities. As retired individuals we help raise and financially support our grandchildren and nephews while their parents finish studying or start building a professional career. We take care, feed and teach the younger generations after school keeping them safe and out of the streets. In our communities we become active in residents’ associations contributing to the well-being of our neighbors and neighborhoods. Furthermore, we get involved in our churches and community organizations where we do spiritual and social work. There are many public retirees that after retiring from public service in the Government of Puerto Rico continue to mentor young professionals.
As you can see, the community of public retirees with a pension from the Government of Puerto Rico is not a burden, but a valuable asset to our society. Defending our pensions and benefits as retirees means to protect the physical, emotional and financial well-being of an important sector of our society and economy.