Pension Matters

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

January 2018

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning." (Little Gidding)”  — T.S. Eliot

Investment Advisory Board

The Board held its final meeting of the year on December 12, 2017. Quarterly Investment Reviews can be found on the Treasury web site at

Performance Overview
MPSERS Plan (9/30/17)1-Year3-Years5-Years7-Years10-Years
Annualized Returns13.8%7.9%10.3%10.2%5.9%
Policy Return13.7%8.5%10.4%10.5%6.2%
Peer Median Return*12.7%7.2%9.0%9.0%5.4%

*State Street Universe greater than $10 billion.

  • Over the past three, five, seven, and ten years, the returns are significantly higher than peer median returns. When compared to the State Street Universe of public pension plans greater than $10 billion, the returns are mostly within the top quartile of returns. As notable, over the past three and five years, the returns were the least risky, as measured by standard deviation.
  • The ten-year return includes the impact of the global financial crisis. Over a very long horizon, since 1979, the annualized rate of return on the plan assets has been approximately 9.4%.
  • Compounding even slightly higher than peer returns on $67.5 billion of SMRS’ assets, significantly adds up over time. For example, the ten-year annualized return of 5.9% compared to the 5.4% peer median return would add approximately $5.5 billion of value to SMRS’ assets over a ten-year period.
  • The returns beat the policy benchmark over the past year by 0.1%. Many of the asset classes posted results in excess of their performance benchmark, however a slightly defensive allocation offset some of the positive selectivity.
  • For the year ending September 2017, returns exceeded the peer median return by 1.1%. The returns of the individual asset classes were better than median returns over this time period and a lower weighting to fixed income also helped to achieve returns higher than peers.
Keep An Eye Out

According to an AARP report, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said recently that the Senate is unlikely to tackle Medicare and Social Security in 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also ruled out 2018 Medicare cuts. However, Ryan has made reducing the nation’s debt and reining in government spending a priority, and has openly discussed Medicare changes such as premium support.

Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid are among the government’s biggest programs. The government will spend about $700 billion on Medicare this year, a number the Congressional Budget Office projects will increase to nearly $1.4 trillion in 2027. AARP supports responsible solutions to reduce health care spending that do not shift costs onto Medicare beneficiaries or reduce their access to care.”

Highlights of Changes for 2018

Social Security checks are going up 2 percent in 2018

Now that Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment in 2018, much or all of the gain may go toward Medicare Part B premiums. (Some of us have already seen our COLA disappear.)

New security features have recently been added to the Social Security website. Social Security account holders now need to enter a one-time security code sent to their phone or email address in addition to a username and password each time they log in. “Two-factor authentication is safer than just a username and password,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. (I haven’t experienced the security code as yet, but have had to change my password which appears to be required every 6 months.)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will mail out new Medicare cards without Social Security numbers printed on them beginning in April 2018.

The full retirement age will tick higher by two months. The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2018.  The IRS today issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2017-64.

The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2018. Read more at and/or

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

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