Why are so many officials retiring, then re-applying for their jobs?

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins retired, and was then re-hired. Jenkins stepped down from the job in October he'd been pursuing for more than 33 years. A few weeks later, Jenkins was back.

It was a calculated risk, he says.

Jenkins and many other public employees before and after him have retired and then re-applied for their jobs so they could begin collecting benefits from the state retirement system.

They say they deserve to be able to tap into those benefits because they've been paying into the system in some cases for decades.

Police Chief Randy Scott followed suit last month.

Like Jenkins, the rules require Scott to spend at least 15 days off the job before he can try to get it back.

The latest wave of retirements is a response to a system change in effect as of Jan. 2 that prevent retirees from collecting benefits if they regain a public job paying more than $10,000.

Others who've called it quits to begin receiving benefits include Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who retired eight years ago, Coroner Gary Watts, and Columbia City Manager Steve Gantt have also retired and continued to work.

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