OLYMPIA – The Senate took a critical step to address Washington’s healthcare workforce shortage by passing Sen. Annette Cleveland’s (D-Vancouver) bill to remove barriers for retired nurses wanting to return to patient care.  

Currently, nurses in the state retirement system who return to work after retirement face a penalty of reduced benefits for life.  

Retirees of the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System can work up to 867 hours per year in a position covered by any of the state’s pension systems while receiving a retirement benefit. However, a retiree who works more than 867 hours is reinstated as an active member and their retirement benefit ceases.  

Senate Bill 5538 looks to encourage retired nurses to return to patient care by doing away with that penalty through June 2026. During that period, retired state nursing employees would be able to work up to 1,040 hours within state agencies without losing retirement benefits.  

“It is crucial that we do what we can to address our healthcare workforce shortage,” said Sen. Cleveland. “Removing this barrier for our retired nurses to return to work is one step we can take to broaden our nursing workforce and better serve patients in our state right now.”