Pension Matters

State Employees Retirement Fund
Most Recent Market Value | Michigan Treasury Bureau of Investments

October 2017

Strong Investor Interest as State Sells Nearly $120 Million in Bonds

LANSING, Mich. — State Treasurer Nick Khouri announced recently that the state of Michigan successfully sold nearly $120 million in General Obligation Environmental Program bonds. Bond proceeds primarily support water infrastructure, asset management plans, and water quality monitoring in communities across the state.

The sale came with strong investor interest as 16 underwriters submitted competitive bids to purchase $79 million in tax-exempt bonds and 14 underwriters submitted competitive bids to purchase more than $40.5 million in federally taxable bonds. (Dept. of Treasury News Release)

Another Pension Plan Shows It Can be Done

“The $153.6 billion Florida Retirement System Pension Plan reported a 13.77% return on investments for the year ending on June 30, surpassing its benchmark of 12.96%, and easily beating last year’s return of 0.54%.

“The pension’s top performing asset class was global equity, which climbed 19.6% for the fiscal year to June 30, after losing 3.09% last year, and beating its benchmark of 19.06%. Private equity was the next strongest performing asset class, rising 18.27%, which was up from 6.21% in 2016, but below its benchmark of 22.06%. See more at Florida Retirement System Pension Plan

Tax on Income Increases

In 2016, most workers will pay 6.2% in Social Security tax on the first $118,500 they earned. Next year, taxes will have to be paid on the first $127,200 of income. The $8,700 jump is the biggest ever in Social Security history. It works out to a tax increase of $539.40 for anyone whose income hits or exceeds the cap. Read more at

Nursing Home Abuse

Auditors from the inspector general’s office identified 134 cases in which hospital emergency room records indicated possible sexual or physical abuse, or neglect, of nursing home residents. The incidents spanned a two-year period from 2015 to 2016.

Illinois had the largest number of incidents overall, with 17. It was followed by Michigan (13), Texas (9) and California (8).

In 38 of the total cases (28 percent), investigators could find no evidence in hospital records that the incident had been reported to local law enforcement, despite a federal law requiring prompt reporting by nursing homes, as well as state and local requirements.

The federal statute has been on the books more than five years, but investigators found that Medicare has not enforced its requirement to report incidents to police and other agencies, or risk fines of up to $300,000. Read more at

SSA projection

A modest, tangible piece of good news emerged from Washington, D.C., this week when the Social Security and Medicare trustees projected that Social Security recipients would receive a 2.2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2018.

It would be the largest increase since 2012, when the COLA rose 3.6 percent. Social Security recipients received no cost-of-living adjustment in 2016 and just 0.3 percent in 2017.

But then again, those who regularly watch the Consumer Price Index (CPI) are now projecting that the 2018 COLA increase won’t be as much as predicted by the Social Security Trustees’ Report released in July. Another report suggested that the COLA for next year would be between 1.7 and 2.2 percent. Based on the CPI’s current course the reality will probably be either lower, or at best on the lowest end of the forecast. The actual numbers won’t be known until mid-October because the measurements used are each year’s 3rd quarter inflation results (July — September). An article by Nick Thornton ( explains how the COLA is computed and what you might realistically expect for next year’s increase. Stay tuned.

Medicare & You 2018

Just got my new Medicare Handbook. If you haven’t receive yours yet, its coming. Be sure and read the information on the new Medicare cards being distributed.

Equifax Disaster

Most people could not miss the news: Equifax, one of the three U.S. credit monitoring bureaus, experienced a serious security breach earlier this year. Hackers accessed private information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and more, belonging to 143 million Americans. That means nearly half the nation has potentially had personal information that is used for credit and loan decisions exposed.

In the wake of that security breach, take steps to protect yourself. Find out if you were affected. Visit the website Equifax has created at to understand the situation and learn whether your information was exposed. 

Hard to Believe

Many counties pay more taxes than we do, but then many of these countries have universal health coverage.

Note: Mexico, Chile, and Korea whose tax revenues are less than the US do not offer universal health care. Latvia, Turkey, Poland and Hungary have higher tax revenue than the US and do not have universal health care.

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

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