Pension Matters

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

May 2017

Michigan Business Leaders Want Pension and Health Care Benefits Gone.

Business Leaders for Michigan, headed by President and CEO Doug Rothwell, issued a recent report indicating Michigan should no longer offer government workers pension and health care benefits.

“Business Leaders for Michigan’s recommendations:

  • Move all new public employees into defined-contribution plans, similar to what’s offered in the private sector
  • Conduct a full review of pension plan assumptions, including rates of investment returns
  • Close off new retiree health care benefits to new hires
  • Move all eligible retirees into Medicare or give retirees a fixed stipend, rather than pay premiums, that can allow them to buy private insurance on state or federal exchanges”

See their report at www.businessleadersformichigan.com

Medicare ID Cards Will Remove Social Security Numbers in 2018.

According to a recent report from AARP, Medicareis preparing to stop using Social Security numbers for identification next year and will send new cards to patients with Medicare ID numbers. The move is required by a law enacted two years ago to discourageidentity theft.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated its web page to help health care providers prepare for the change. The agency plans to begin mailing the new cards with Medicare beneficiary identifiers (MBIs) in April 2018. During a transition period through 2019, providers can use the MBIs or health insurance claim numbers (which are based on Social Security numbers) on transactions such as billing and claims. See SSA’s notification at www.cms.gov

How are Your Fees?

Americans give up at least $17 billion a year by choosing expensive investments within their workplace retirement plans, according to a recent report from New York-based RiXtrema, which provides portfolio crash-testing and other risk management tools to advisors. Read more at www.fa-mag.com

Other Options for State Retirees to get News

Just a reminder that if you are on Facebook there are a couple of options for connecting with State Retirees. One is the SERA Facebook page at Lansing SERA. Another is the State of Michigan Employees and Retirees. Both have good information and lots of discussion on retirement issues. Also the Michigan Office of Retirement Services (ORS) has a Facebook page with lots of good information and answers to retirement questions.

Alternative Investments Work for Your Pension

A recent article (04/25/17) in the Lansing State Journal by Justin Hinkley focused on the State of Michigan’s public pension system’s use of “alternative investments” and how well it has worked for the funds. Investing in “alternative investments” is not new to Michigan’s retirement fund. There is a long history of investing in this area. While fees are higher in this investment arena, diversification is the key to Michigan’s success in this area according to Treasury officials. You can find the Pew study at www.pewtrusts.org

Voya Website

While this site is available to participants in the State’s Defined Contribution program, I thought some of you might find this information of value/interest. Check out this site http://investments.voya.com

Also, anyone who is a state retiree and in the DC program and would like to add information from their perspective to my pension report, feel free to contact me. I welcome your perspective.

Where Taxes Come From and Where They Go Source: IRS

Speaking of Taxes

If you haven’t paid your Michigan taxes yet, Treasury says it can help. A new bulletin out from Treasury gives taxpayers options . Go to their web site to learn more about Michigan’s income tax, www.michigan.gov/incometaxor call Treasury’s Income Tax Information Line at517-636-4486. Taxpayer inquires can also be madeonline.

Many Not Eligible for Social Security

Today’s young people fear that they will never receive Social Security benefits. The reality is, 3% of elderly Americans already don’t.

According to a2015 Social Security Administration report, “The three main groups of people who never receive Social Security benefits include infrequent workers who do not have sufficient earnings to qualify for the benefits (44.3%), immigrants who arrived in the U.S. at 50 or older and therefore haven’t worked long enough to qualify for the benefits (37.3%) , and non-covered workers such as state and local government employees (11.4%).

A little less than 7% of “never beneficiaries” were individuals who were expected to get Social Security benefits, but died before receiving them". Read more at Market Watch.com

Teachers Forfeit Pensions

According to a statement made by Attorney General Bill Schuette, eight Detroit school principals who have been convicted of accepting bribes will be forgoing a portion of their state paid pensions. Read more at www.freep.com

Keep an Eye on This

TheWall Street Journalwas cited as reporting on a provision of the Republican legislation that could affect those who get health insurance through their employers. Health Policy experts have indicated that many who obtain health insurance through their employers about half of the country “could be at risk of losing protections that limit out-of-pocket costs for catastrophic illnesses, due to a little-noticed provision of the House Republican health-care bill to be considered Thursday.

“The provision, part of a last-minute amendment, lets states obtain waivers from certain Affordable Care Act insurance regulations. Insurers in states that obtain the waivers could be freed from a regulation mandating that they cover 10 particular types of health services, among them maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health treatment and hospitalization. According to health analysts, this could also affect plans offered by large employers.”

May is Older Americans Month

Here are just a couple of facts from a report from the federal Administration for Community Living

  • Over the past 10 years (2005-2015), the 65 and over population increased by 30% to 47.8 million. It is expected to double to 98 million in 2060. The increase was 34% for those 60+.
  • Older women outnumber older men (26.7 million to 21.1 million). And almost half of all older women live alone.
  • Only 3.1% of the 65+ population live in institutional settings.

You can read more about this at www.aoa.acl.gov

I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon.
Then it’s time for my nap.
- Bob Hope

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

Return to top of page