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(11/19/14) - Today is Education Support Professionals (ESP) Day – a day to focus on the importance of our members and retirees, and all education support staff who help keep our children safe and give them the tools necessary to succeed in school.

Who are ESPs? They are the bus drivers, cooks, classroom aides, maintenance workers, security personnel, and countless others who ensure students are “healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged” each school day.

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According to the National Education Association (NEA), ESPs comprise 40% of the total K-12 education workforce. ESPs are committed to their careers and the safety of the students. Some key findings of a recent NEA survey of ESPs:

  • They average 11.5 years in the ESP workforce, and 67% plan to stay in their current position.
  • They have an average of 10.8 years with their current employer.
  • 59% have witnessed bullying behavior. Of those who have witnessed bullying, 89% have stepped in or tried to stop it.
  • 45% have witnessed school violence. Of those who have witnessed school violence, 85% have stepped in or tried to stop it.

ESPs are often the first and last faces students see each day. Could you imagine a day without the education support staff in schools? Take a look at this moving video from the NEA, which will give you a glimpse of what a day would be like without the people who help keep our schools running and our students safe.

To our members and  retirees, and all education support professionals – thank you for your service to our schools and all you do.

 

  
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(11/17/14) - On Nov. 13, 2014, U.S. Representatives from two non-Social Security states, Texas and Massachusetts, introduced legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced H.R. 5697 which “provides equal treatment of Social Security benefits for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public servants who earn two pensions – one in Social Security and another in a substitute program like a state teachers retirement program.”

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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.

H.R. 5697 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.

After reviewing the text of the bill, SERS was the first retirement system in the nation to issue a letter of support.

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.

We’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.

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(11/17/14)  - This week is American Education Week (AEW), an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the individuals within our schools who help our children succeed.

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The annual observance honors education support professionals (ESPs), teachers, students, parents, and community members – any individual who helps ensure that each child receives a quality public education.

This year’s theme is “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.” The National Education Association (NEA) asks all Americans to “do their part in making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.”

On Wednesday, November 19, we will recognize our members, retirees, and all ESPs by celebrating Education Support Professionals Day. Throughout their careers, ESPs touch the lives of students, provide encouragement and support, and help ensure their safety.

Click here for a list of all special observances taking place each day this week, and for ways to promote AEW in your school.

You can also join in the celebration by following our Facebook page. We will post updates, videos, and more throughout the week to honor those who serve our schools.

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(11/14/14)  - Retirees who don't have Medicare coverage may be able to obtain more affordable coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Open enrollment for the Marketplace starts Nov. 15, 2014 and runs through Feb. 15, 2015.

You can search for health insurance plans during the open enrollment period. You need to apply by Dec. 15 to have coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2015.

The Marketplace does not affect your SERS health care coverage, and you are not required to change plans. You decide what is best for you.

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All plans cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventive care.

You may be able to find less expensive coverage when you qualify for a subsidy to help pay the premium.

The Marketplace is not for those who have Medicare. If you are a SERS retiree who is not yet eligible for Medicare or who purchased a Marketplace plan last year, click here to learn more.

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(11/12/14) - To better serve our members, we now offer extended counseling hours on Wednesdays.

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The counseling staff is available for four additional sessions on Wednesdays, with two sessions each from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

We also offer appointments at 8:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:45 p.m. during any weekday.

If you are approaching retirement and would like to schedule a session with one of our counselors, call 1-866-280-7377.

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(9/30/14) - The Social Security Administration (SSA) is cautioning the public against an identity theft scam that targets personal information. 

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If you receive an email from Social Security telling you that you may be eligible for a new benefit, delete it. The email instructs you to click on a link and complete an application with your personal information (e.g., contact and employment information, Social Security number, and driver’s license number).

Government agencies rarely communicate by email, phone, or text and if they do, they should already have your basic information. As a reminder, never provide personal information when receiving unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages, or click on links or download attachments contained in suspicious emails.

For more information and tips on how to recognize a scam, read Social Security’s fraud advisory or visit the Better Business Bureau’s website.

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