State Retiree Benefits Fact Sheet – West Virginia

  • December 18, 2007
When it comes to pension funding levels, West Virginia—with about 55% of its aggregate pension obligations covered—lags behind every other state. Just four years ago, however, the situation looked much worse. In recent years, West Virginia stands out for responsibly funding its annual required contribution to its pension plans. It also was one of the speediest states in taking action to reduce its sizeable liability for non-pension benefits—mostly retiree health care. The state, along with a dozen others, established an irrevocable trust in 2007 in which to set aside assets for funding those benefits. It also increased co-payments for retirees and reduced costs by requiring that most retirees participate in a Medicare advantage prescription drug program. West Virginia's intention to at least partially fund its non-pension benefits, along with aggressive cost-containment efforts, resulted in a significant drop in the state's long-term bill—from $7.8 billion in the initial valuation to $3.4 billion in a subsequent valuation in April 2007.