Pension Matters

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

March 2019

Social Security Continues to be a Major Issue

“Social Security paid out about $1 trillion in benefits to some 63 million people last year (2018). Within a decade though, the number of recipients is projected to surge to 80 million. Recipients are also living longer. And yet slowing population growth means fewer younger workers are available to pay into the system — Social Security is based on payroll taxes, after all. This problem — not enough new workers — could be made worse by ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to curb even legal immigration. ” Read more at


The speaker at the February meeting was Jon Braeutigam, Chief Investment Officer at the Department of Treasury, along with Robert Brackenbury, Sr. Deputy Chief Investment Officer. Want to thank these gentlemen for the continued support of SERA by presenting each year an update on the pension plans we all rely on. Mr. Braeutigam spoke about the current state of the State’s pension funds and provided a useful handout. I have put aside some of the remaining presentation handouts, so please pick one up at the next meeting so you can have this information. If they are not out on the table, ask a Board member for a copy.

Pension Tax

According to an analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency, 1.2 million tax returns in Michigan list some retirement income, out of the 4.7 million returns filed. About a third of them — 376,000 taxpayers — report income above the $20,000 and $40,000 exemption. Read more at

(Be sure and review Mary Pollock’s Pension Tax Update.)

Of Interest

A report issued by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College indicates that U.S. public pension plans invest more in riskier assets than private plans.

In addition, for any given asset allocation, public plan return assumptions are on the optimistic end compared to those of investment professionals in the industry at large.

The report, “Impact of Public Sector Assumed Returns on Investment Choices,” reveals that public pension plans have a riskier portfolio relative to private plans, and don’t calculate the assumed return in the same way. Jean-Pierre Aubry, associate director of state and local research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and co-author of the report said, “Given their allocations, public plans’ assumed returns aren’t out of whack compared to what asset managers are projecting.” Read more at

Long Term Care Information

“The AARP Public Policy Institute released a new paper highlighting promising practices of how state-funded home- and community-based services programs (HCBS) are supporting low-income older adults and people with physical disabilities, along with their family caregivers, to live with maximum independence at home.

This paper is part of a series on promising practices and emerging innovations from the Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard. State-funded HCBS programs are part of a high-performing system because these programs can be used to reach the near poor—who may not yet qualify for Medicaid—to prevent impoverishment and more expensive nursing home care.

The paper profiles programs in nine states: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The paper also highlights Washington state’s emerging innovation: the Medicaid Transformation demonstration, which tailors support for near poor older adults and family caregivers.”

The Scorecard as well as promising practices and emerging innovations papers are located at

Facebook Page

We have 250 people who access the SERA Facebook page. Would love more. Visit Lansing SERA to read the posts. Lots of news and information. Also make sure you know and use the Council’s web site at

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

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