Pension Matters

State Employees Retirement Fund
Most Recent Market Value | Archived Monthly Profiles

November 2016

Remember, you can also find a wealth of Pension related information on the Department of Treasury, Bureau of Investment web site.

Additionally, the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube Channel. Their MIAccount has over 400,000 registered users. Check them out if you haven’t already.

In Case You Didn’t Know

According to the Social Security Administration, about 40 percent who receive benefits have to pay federal income taxes on a portion of those benefits. If you file your federal tax return as an individual and your combined income is below $25,000, all your benefits will be tax-free. But if the number is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits. There’s a sliding scale that determines the exact portion.

And if your combined income is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

For more information, read the Social Security web page Benefits Planner: ’Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits.”

Very Interesting.

According to MarketWatch, “23% of pre-retirees would ideally like to spend all of their savings and let their children fend for themselves. In contrast, a mere 9% say they want to save as much money as possible to pass on to the next generation.”

Corporate Defined Benefit Not Dead and Doing Well

A report measured by the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index (PFI), “ the funded status of the 100 largest corporate defined benefit pension plans improved by $19 billion during September of this year. You can see the analysis at www.milliman.com

Public Defined Benefit Not so Well

However, according to another report on CNBC news website, Moody’s Investors Service reported “Weak investment performance and insufficient contributions will cause total unfunded liabilities for U.S. state public pensions to balloon by 40 percent to $1.75 trillion through fiscal 2017.”

The report is based on increasing concern over America’s ability to pay promised retirement benefits to public employees without draining state budgets. “It has been a tough year for the funds, which earned a median 0.52 percent on investments in fiscal 2016 versus their average assumed return rate of 7.5 percent, Moody’s said.” Read more at www.cnbc.com

Notes and News
  • IRS announced recently as part of its annual cost-of-living adjustments that contribution limits for most retirement savings accounts, including 401(k) and individual retirement accounts, will not change in 2017
  • A new Fact Sheet from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) along with the Pension Rights Center, explains how the federal government encourages low-income earners to save for retirement through the Saver’s Credit.  You can download the fact sheet from here
  • EBRI’s 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey can be found at www.ebri.org. finds that” American workers’ confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement has maintained its increase after the record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013. However, retiree confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement continued to increase in 2016.
Health Insurance Costs Rising

Information from the Kaiser Family Foundation states the cost of health insurance will continue to rise. Insurance premiums have climbed 213 percent since 1999 for family coverage. Wages have gone up 60 percent and inflation is up 44 percent according to their study.

The study suggests that “people with coverage through employers could expect premium hikes of 5 -6 percent next year.” Hold onto your hats folks.

Council Meeting Notes

Christine Coady from the Michigan Department of Attorney General Bill Schuette was the guest speaker at the quarterly meeting of SERA Council. She provided information related to In-Home Care Services. See more detail in the Council President’s report.

Helpful websites: Attorney General Health Care Fraud Division www.mi.gov/reportelderabuse; Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Adult Services Agency www.mi.gov/aging; Long-Term Care Ombudsman 866- 485-9393; LARA Long-term Care Division www.mi.gov/longtermcare; Eldercare www.eldercare.gov; MMAP mmapinc.org; Michigan Assisted Living Association www.miassistedliving.org; LongTermCare.gov www.longtermcare.gov ; Local Area Agency on Aging 517-373-8230, option 2 or www.mi-seniors.net/regionmap.

Editor’s note: June Morse may be contacted at jmorse10@comcast.net or 517-886-9323.

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