We work to keep our members informed of current issues that directly affect them. The latest on what and how is affecting you through your retirement system will always be posted on our website’s homepage. After news items have been publicized, they will be housed here, on the “Important Retirement News” section of the members’ homepage. You also can refer to this section when you are looking for older news items.
Important Retirement News
Benefit Recipients with Benefit Effective Date Prior to April 1, 2018, to Receive 0.5% COLA
At its September meeting, the Board unanimously voted to approve a 0.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for eligible retirees and beneficiaries in 2021. Previously, COLAs were suspended from 2018 through 2020.
As a result of HB 49, passed in 2017, the COLA is now based on the year-to-year change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W), with a range of 0% to 2.5%, unless the Board chooses to adjust the COLA above or below the CPI-W. However, any adjustment can only be enacted if the System’s actuary determines it will not materially impair the fiscal integrity of the system or is necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.
Benefit recipients whose benefit effective date is on or after April 1, 2018, must wait until the fourth anniversary of their allowance or benefit before receiving a COLA.
You are one of the more than 158,000 active members. Don’t have an online account with SERS? It’s easy. Just click the Account Login button to register today. It’s a secure and convenient way to view your account and stay connected with SERS.
Account Login provides the ability to:
- Review your account balance and service credit
- Update your personal information, such as address and beneficiary
- Create estimates
- Apply for retirement or a refund
Because the functionality and capabilities of the computer system have been increased, the system’s security features have been upgraded. This means that even if you previously registered for an online account, you will need to create a new account to access your SERS account information.
Contact Your Senators about SERS’ Wraparound Program
We need your help.
In January 2017, SERS developed a Limited Wraparound Plan for retirees under age 65. The plan allows retirees to use the federal marketplace to find a health care plan that fits their health care needs, and allows us to “wrap” extra benefits around the plan while allowing the individual to obtain available federal premium and cost-sharing subsidies.
The Wraparound Plan was established as a three-year pilot program and is set to end on December 31, 2019.
This is where you come in.
Approximately 500 SERS retirees are enrolled in the Wraparound Plan, many of whom have disabilities. If the plan is not extended, the currently enrolled SERS retirees will have to find alternative coverage (which includes moving to SERS’ established coverage or keeping their existing plan with no Wrap benefits), and future retirees will no longer have this option.
All participants in this program have realized significant health care cost savings, as has SERS. Any savings we achieve for retirees can ultimately extend the life of our health care fund.
We urge you to contact your U.S. Senators in their Washington offices to request their support for a two-year extension of Limited Wraparound Programs. Right now the Senate is considering a Labor/HHS Appropriations bill that would be an ideal opportunity to include that amendment. We have made it easy for you contact them through SERS’ Legislative Action Center.
Click here to contact your senators, and request an extension of this vital program today.
Have You Recently Moved? Be Sure to Let Us Know.
Make sure you advise SERS of any change in address. You may be missing out on valuable membership information, or even benefits.
Even if SERS deposits your check directly into your bank account, we still need your current home address.
If you move and do not notify SERS, your benefits can be suspended. You can update your address by calling us at 800-878-5853, or by using the My Profile section of the Account Login on our website.
If you prefer, you can mail us your change of address by sending a completed Personal Information Change Form to School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, 300 E. Broad St., Suite 100, Columbus, Ohio, 43215.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
In October 2017, SERS’ Board of Trustees approved a three-year cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) suspension for retirees and benefit recipients in 2018, 2019, and 2020. House Bill 49 (HB 49) indexed the COLA to the percentage increase in the CPI-W (the measure of inflation used by Social Security), not greater than 2.5%, with a floor of 0%. Both changes became effective January 1, 2018.
The Board also approved a change to an administrative rule that required new benefit recipients to wait until the fourth anniversary of their benefit for COLA eligibility. The new standard applied to benefits commencing on and after April 1, 2018. Additionally, the rule provided that multiple benefits originating from the same member account not have more than a four-year waiting period in total.
The changes did not affect the COLA increases retirees received before January 1, 2018.
Advocacy Group Sues
On January 31, 2018, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS) was named as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE).
The SERS’ legal team is reviewing the details of the lawsuit, but we believe that all actions taken by SERS regarding the changes to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) were legal and prudent.
We are confident that the actions taken by the Board and the Legislature are in the best interest of SERS and its members and retirees and we will prevail in this action.
For nearly two years, SERS held several open meetings with representatives from all advocacy groups, including OAPSE, to discuss possible benefit changes and their effects on SERS and its membership. We modeled the effects of numerous combinations of changes before deciding on the COLA changes that were implemented.
We are disappointed that OAPSE’s opposition to these changes was not registered during the open process when they could have been addressed with input from all interested parties.