We work to keep SERS’ members informed of issues that directly affect them. The latest on what 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 on the “Important Retirement News” sections of the Members homepage and the Retirees homepage. You also can refer to this section when you are looking for older news items.
Important Retirement News
IMPORTANT: Report Your SERS Income to Social Security, Even If the Amount is the Same as Last Year
(9/13/18) – If you are retired and receive a Social Security benefit based on your own private sector work record, or based on a spouse, ex-spouse, or deceased spouse’s work record, you must report your monthly SERS gross pension amount to Social Security annually. The Social Security Administration will send you a letter asking for this information, and you still need to respond even though cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases have been suspended until 2021.
Receiving Medicare Part B?
Failure to report your monthly pension amount will result in your Social Security check being suspended for overpayment. Any deduction for Medicare Part B premiums from your Social Security check also will end, which could result in your Medicare Part B coverage being terminated.
If you are unsure about the amount of your monthly SERS gross pension income, you can find it on your quarterly SERS check stub. If you receive a monthly Medicare B reimbursement of $45.50, do not include that as part of your monthly pension income.
Receive a PLOP?
Also, if you received a partial lump-sum option payment (PLOP) when you retired, you must contact SERS because you need to provide Social Security with your unreduced pension amount.
If you are unsure about what amount to report to Social Security, please call our Member Support Team to get a Social Security verification letter from SERS that includes your monthly gross pension amount for the last three years. You can request this letter by contacting SERS toll-free at 800-878-5853.
You are one of more than 237,000 active and retired members. Don’t have an online account with SERS yet? It’s easy. Visit Account Login 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.
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.