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(12/21/16) – Scammers are still at it.

They often offer deals that seem “too good to be true,” such as travel packages, extended car warranties, credit card protection, or overstated investment opportunities.

We would like to remind you that SERS will never call and ask for your personal information, such as a Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

Do not provide any personal information to callers you do not know, even if they are asking you to “confirm” information. It is likely a scam.

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers some lines that are commonly used by scammers:

  • You've been specially selected (for this offer).
  • You'll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
  • You've won one of five valuable prizes.
  • You've won big money in a foreign lottery.
  • This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
  • You have to make up your mind right away.
  • You trust me, right?
  • You don't need to check our company with anyone.
  • We'll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.

If you hear a similar statement from an unknown caller, or feel pressured to make a decision or give out personal information, hang up and report them to the FTC, Ohio Attorney General's office, and ProSeniors Senior Medicare Patrol, if the call involves potential health care fraud.

FTC:
 
Ohio Attorney General:
Toll-Free: 800-282-0515
Local: 614-466-4986
 
ProSeniors Senior Medicare Patrol:
Toll-Free: 800-488-6070
Local: 513-345-4160

In addition, if you have not already done so, register your home and mobile phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. This will stop most unsolicited calls. If you still receive calls, it is most likely a scammer. Hang up and file a complaint with the National Do Not Call Registry.

For more red flags, and tips on how to handle an unexpected telemarking call, visit the FTC website.

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(12/20/16) - Ohio has one of the best public pension structures in the U.S. Our framework provides reliable and consistent funding to the pension systems for the retirement security of public employees, and protects taxpayers from having to increase pension funding during poor economic times. Ohio also has a formal and independent legislative oversight entity, the Ohio Retirement Study Council, to make sure the pension systems manage assets in the best interests of its public employees.

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Unfortunately, some national studies, like the one the Mercatus Center released on December 13, fail to acknowledge these advantages and use unrealistic assumptions to make the case for a switch from defined benefit pensions to 401(k) plans. Here’s where their methodology fails:

1.  The authors of the study define Ohio’s public pension systems as “severely underfunded.”

According to our actuary, this is absolutely untrue. While SERS is not 100% funded (meaning we have all the assets we need to pay off every benefit earned as of today) we have enough reliable and consistent income to pay off all liabilities over the next 28 years. Not all pension liabilities come due at one time; they come due gradually over time.

2.  They make dire predictions about the solvency of Ohio’s plans based on the assumption that the plans will receive no future employee and employer contributions.

This is unrealistic because our employee and employer contributions are defined by state law and they have always been consistently received.

3.   They use a 2% investment return to calculate future investment earnings on current assets.

This is extremely low considering the 32-year history of investment returns for SERS is nearly 9% annually. While it’s possible that investment returns may be lower in the next few years, 2% over an extended period is improbable.

Ohio’s pension systems constantly undergo close scrutiny by independent auditors and actuaries. At SERS, we have always met or exceeded the state’s standards for pension funding and we take seriously our fiduciary duty to make sure the pension fund remains financially sound.

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(12/13/16) - In September, we informed you of some recently approved cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) changes that will affect active members and retirees beginning in 2018.

However, there seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the extent of these changes.

To clarify, the proposed changes will not affect the COLA increases retirees received before January 1, 2018. For example, if the “current month” COLA amount on your check stub as of December 1, 2017 is $165, you will continue to receive $165 monthly from 2018 through 2020 (as shown in the sample check stub below). However, your COLA amount will not increase during those years.

The gross amount of your check will remain the same; however, the net amount may change based on your deductions.

Beginning January 1, 2021, you will resume receiving an increase on your COLA anniversary date, indexed to the Consumer Price Index not greater than 2.5% with a floor of 0%.

We anticipate that these changes will go into effect on January 1, 2018; however, they require legislative approval and it is unknown at this time how long that will take.

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To understand why the COLA changes are necessary, click here to read the COLA Changes – What You Need to Know handout.

If you have any specific questions regarding how these proposed changes will affect your retirement allowance or benefit, please contact our Member Services department toll-free at 800-878-5853.

Also, we opened an email address at pensionreform@ohsers.org for anyone who wants to ask questions about the COLA changes or provide feedback to the Board.

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(11/15/16) - Due to a small Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) increase of 0.3% for Social Security recipients, and a Hold Harmless provision in the Social Security law, retired Ohio public employees may see a 10% increase in their 2017 Medicare Part B premiums.

The Hold Harmless provision prevents an increase in Medicare Part B premiums greater than the dollar amount of the increase of an individual’s Social Security benefit. Approximately 70% of Medicare Part B recipients are protected by this provision.

This provision DOES NOT apply to the approximately 30% of Medicare Part B participants who:

  • Do not receive a monthly Social Security benefit
  • Pay Medicare directly for their Part B premiums
  • Sign up for Medicare during 2017
  • Have Medicare and Medicaid, and Medicaid pays the premium

The impact of the Hold Harmless provision is unfair to retirees who do not pay into Social Security. This group will disproportionately shoulder the entire increase.

More than 9,000 retirees contacted their legislators last year and, as a result, legislation was passed to reduce 2016 Medicare Part B premiums for retirees in non-Social Security states. 

We urge all SERS retirees to contact their congressional representatives to prevent this increase and urge lawmakers to replace the Hold Harmless provision with a fairer formula. You can do this from the Legislative Action Center on the front page of the SERS website.

We will keep you informed of any updates.

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(11/4/16) - Are you aware that the federal government offers a tax credit to low-income earners who contribute to a retirement plan?

The non-refundable credit, called the Saver’s Credit, is available to individuals who make less than $30,750 a year, or married couples who make less than $61,500 a year. Because it is non-refundable, it will decrease the amount of taxes you owe, but cannot provide a refund.

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The credit could equate to 10% to 50% of the total amount you saved for retirement during the year.

Only about 25% of those eligible for the Saver’s Credit apply for it. For more information on how to file for it, requirements, and more, download the fact sheet from the National Institute on Retirement Security and Pension Rights Center here.

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Contact Congress Regarding Two Important Issues Affecting SERS Retirees

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.

STOP THE PROPOSED 2017 MEDICARE PART B PREMIUM INCREASE

Due to a "hold harmless" provision, SERS retirees may see a drastic increase in their 2017 Medicare Part B premiums.

Ask your legislator to find and support another solution as soon as possible.

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.

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

COLA Changes: What You Need to Know

Click here to read about the proposed changes to the Cost-of-Living Adjustment.

Monthly Administrative Expense Reports

The Monthly Administrative Expense Reports contain information about SERS' day-to-day operating expenses and is provided in both summary and detail formats.

Click here to view these administrative expense reports.

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