WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Kentucky’s retirement system does not discriminate against older workers who become disabled after becoming eligible for retirement.
If a state worker in a hazardous job becomes disabled before age 55, the state pays disability retirement benefits based on the years the worker needed to become eligible for retirement. But the state does not add in extra years for workers who become disabled after passing the retirement eligibility marks.
Charles Lickteig continued working in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department past age 55, became disabled, and then retired at 61. The state based his annual pension on actual years of service, ignoring the additional years he worked for the department.
Justice Breyer said the plan does not discriminate on the basis of age, because the differences in treatment were not “actually motivated” by age, but by pension status.
“The disparity turns upon pension eligibility and nothing more,” Breyer wrote.
The majority reversed the 6th Circuit’s judgment for Lickteig.
Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Ginsburg and Alito dissented.