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(2/26/15) - On Feb. 24, 2015, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act.

Congressman Stivers joins Rep. Pat Tiberi in supporting a repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Thank you for all your letters, and for using the Legislative Action Center tool to send messages to your legislators. To date, over 2,600 messages have been sent using this tool. If you have not already done so, we urge you to ask your congressional representative to support this important bill.

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(2/23/15) - Do you have enough money set aside for your child’s education? What about unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills? Are you contributing to a supplemental retirement plan such as Ohio Deferred Compensation?

If you answered no to any of these, or you’re unsure, now is a good time to review your finances and make a plan.

America Saves Week (February 23-28, 2015) is an annual event that encourages you to assess your savings strategy, pay down debt, and take control of your finances. Even if you’re already saving, this is an opportunity to make sure that you’re saving enough.

This year’s theme is simple: Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.

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A recent survey released as part of America Saves Week found that while more Americans are saving more effectively than a year ago, only about 40% are doing so successfully.

According to the study, those with a specific savings plan reported making more savings progress than those without a plan.

America Saves offers many useful tools to help you assess your savings:

Throughout the week, we will share savings strategies from America Saves on our Facebook page.

SERS is a participating organization in the America Saves Week campaign and encourages you to increase your personal wealth, not debt. Take the pledge today.

 

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The pay date for March is 02/27/2015.

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Monthly Benefit Payments Direct Deposit Dates
March* 02/27/2015
April 04/01/2015
May 05/01/2015
June* 06/01/2015
July 07/01/2015
August 07/31/2015
September* 09/01/2015
October 10/01/2015
November 10/30/2015
December* 12/01/2015

*Direct deposit notice or check stub will be mailed to all benefit recipients.

You will receive a check stub whenever there is a change to your benefit, such as health care premium change, a tax withholding change, or a bank account change.

SERS strongly encourages all retirees to have their pension payments paid directly to a bank or credit union. Direct deposit of your funds is the only way to assure that your payment will be available on the first of every month. Direct deposit eliminates any concerns about late, lost, or stolen checks. Since pension checks cannot be forwarded, direct deposit also eliminates delays when you travel during retirement. It is your responsibility to make sure the funds are in your account before writing checks against your account.

If you do not enroll in direct deposit, there is no guarantee that you will receive your payment right on the first of every month. Delivery delays might occur that are beyond SERS’ control, such as lost or stolen checks. You must wait 10 days after the expected delivery date before SERS can begin the process of stopping payment and issuing a new check. This delay will not occur if you have direct deposit.

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(2/16/15) - Switching from a traditional defined benefit (DB) pension to a defined contribution (DC) plan resulted in increased pension costs and increased levels of retirement insecurity in three states, according to recent case studies from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).

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Researchers studied West Virginia, Michigan, and Alaska, three states that made the switch to DC retirement plans for their public employees in an effort to address pension underfunding and rising pension plan costs.

Instead, the states’ pension funding problems worsened. Additionally, researchers found that implementing a DC plan did nothing to reduce DB plan costs.

Similarities among the states include:

  • States and/or public employees contributed less than the Annual Required Contribution (ARC).
  • The loss of new, contributing members made it difficult to finance the unfunded obligations of the states’ DB plans.
  • DC balances proved to be too low to provide an adequate income to retirees. The average DB pension was actually worth more and cost less in the states evaluated.        
  • Underfunding increased following the switch to DC. In Alaska’s case, the state retirement systems’ unfunded liabilities doubled in less than 10 years.

Michigan and West Virginia have the made the switch back to DB plans, but legislation to reopen the DB pension to new employees has not passed in Alaska.

Instead of looking to DC plans as an answer to underfunding, the case studies suggest that states implement a responsible funding policy requiring the full ARC and a more disciplined approach to DB plan funding.

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(2/13/15) - Ohio legislators are beginning to show their support for the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act.

On Feb. 10, 2015, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township) signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Thank you, Congressman Tiberi, for your support of H.R. 711.

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(2/10/15) - Rep. Richard Neal recently explained why he supports H.R. 711 to The Republican, a Massachusetts newspaper.

 “Our dedicated public employees have paid into Social Security and they are entitled to their full benefits, just like any other worker,” Congressman Neal said.

H.R. 711, or the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act, would affect over 1.3 million public sector employees who paid into Social Security. The bipartisan bill was reintroduced by Rep. Neal and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas last week.

Click here to read the full article.

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(2/6/15) - U.S. Representatives from two non-Social Security states have reintroduced legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

On Feb. 4, 2015, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed H.R. 711 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill "strengthens the solvency of Social Security while guaranteeing our public servants receive the full benefits they earned when paying into the program.”

You may recall that the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act, was originally introduced in Nov. 2014. It is now under consideration with the 114th Congress.

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The WEP affects SERS retirees who are, or will be, receiving a Social Security benefit based on their own Social Security employment record. Under the current legislation, their Social Security benefit was reduced depending on the number of years paid into Social Security.

The Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act eliminates the WEP, and allows Social Security benefits earned by public employees in non-Social Security states to be calculated just as other workers, based on their real-life contributions and work history.

We urge all SERS members who have paid into Social Security, and retirees who are affected by the WEP, to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the bill and support its passage. You can do this from the Legislative Action Center on the front page of the SERS website.

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(2/5/15) - Yesterday, SERS staff wore red to raise awareness for heart disease. This is the 7th year for Go Red for SERS.

Did you know that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease or stroke? Long believed to be a man’s disease, the American Heart Association launched Go Red for Women to bring attention to the little-known fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States.

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Today, twelve years since the first National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association has made tremendous advances in increasing awareness and education. Nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease or stroke each day.

We encourage all our members and retirees to participate in National Wear Red Day tomorrow, Feb. 6. More importantly, the American Heart Association urges both women and men to learn more about their cardiovascular risk and educate themselves on how to lead a heart healthy lifestyle.

Taking action now could lead to many healthier days ahead.

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(1/22/15) - The United States Computer Readiness Team (US-CERT) is warning citizens of a phishing campaign involving the Affordable Care Act.

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The phishing emails state they are from a U.S. federal government agency and reference the Affordable Care Act in the subject line. The email claims to direct users to health care coverage information, but instead directs them to a site that either asks for personal information or installs malicious code.

The US-CERT is encouraging all users to protect themselves by taking the following steps:

  • Do not follow links or download attachments in unsolicited email messages.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Refer to the Avoid Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Security Tip for additional information on social engineering attacks.

If you receive a suspicious email related to this campaign, be sure to report the incident to appropriate parties within your organization and notify US-CERT.

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(1/16/15) - This month, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month. The event has been observed every January since 1970 in an effort to increase blood and platelet donations during the winter months – a time of year when it is difficult to keep up with patient demands due to inclement weather and illness.

More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. Giving just one pint of blood could save up to three lives.

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Donating is easy, not to mention rewarding. Just ask Michael Zapata, who was recently inducted into the national Donation Hall of Fame. Zapata has committed to saving lives for over 20 years. He takes four buses from his home to the donation center so he can donate platelets every two weeks.

Want to help? Once you have determined that you are eligible to donate, search for a date and location that are convenient for you by using this helpful tool on the Red Cross’s website.

Donors can donate whole blood every 56 days, platelets every 7 days, plasma every 28 days, and double red cells every 112 days.

The American Red Cross recognizes SERS as a Gold Level Sponsor for holding five blood drives each year. In 2014, the Red Cross received 98 units of blood from our blood drives thanks to the generosity of our employees, building tenants, and nearby businesses.

Join SERS in its commitment to help save lives. Donating blood helps ensure there is an adequate supply when needed, and is especially crucial during these harsh winter months.

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(1/15/15) - All benefit recipients will soon receive their 2014 1099-R tax forms by mail.  You will receive a paper copy of your tax form before the end of January.

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As a reminder, you can access your 1099-R form through your online account. The 2014 1099-R forms are now available online.

If you have not set up an online account, doing so is easy. Go to our Member Login page and click on “Register." Then, simply follow the set-up instructions.

Once your online account is set up, you will be able to access your SERS account information, including your 1099-R forms.

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(12/24/14) - Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Kingwood Observer, a Houston newspaper, explaining why he introduced the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act to end the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

The bi-partisan legislation of this bill would ensure that public servants are treated like other American workers when it comes to Social Security.

Read the full story here.

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(12/17/14) - When Carolyn Monroe retired, she anticipated living on her pension from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and her full Social Security benefit. Monroe was shocked to discover that, due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) formula, she would only receive one-third of her benefit earned through Social Security. That reduction in benefits forced her to change her plan and return to work until age 72.

Sound familiar? This happens in Ohio too.

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The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act would help prevent this situation from happening to others. The bill would repeal the WEP and guarantee that public servants receive the benefits earned while paying into Social Security. Public servants who turn 62 on or after Jan. 1, 2017 would benefit from the new Public Servant Fairness Formula.

Read the full Humble Observer article here.

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Oppose Social Security Offset and Windfall Penalties

We encourage SERS members and retirees to contact their members of Congress to ask them to support elimination of these provisions. Contacting your legislators is easy using SERS' Legislative Action Alert. By entering your ZIP code, you’ll have access to the contact information (e-mail address, phone number, and mailing address) of your federal legislators.

Encourage your legislator to support the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act.

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