Pension Matters

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

November 2019

Editor’s note: June Morse may be contacted at or 517-886-9323.
Michigan Treasury Takes a Stand

“The state of Michigan has pulled its $600 million pension fund from wealth management firm Fisher Investments after the company’s founder and chairman made crude and sexually explicit comments during a fireside chat at the Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco this week.

In a letter Thursday, Michigan Chief Investment Officer Jon Braeutigam informed the state’s investment board that its bureau of investments, housed under the state Treasury Department, had terminated its relationship with Fisher Investments because of CEO Ken Fisher’s ‘completely unacceptable comments.’”

NEW Issue Brief Finds Growing Financial Asset Inequality Across Generations

“A new research brief finds that financial asset inequality among Americans continues to increase, and the inequality is consistent across generations. This wealth inequality, combined with dangerously low retirement savings among most households, poses a significant threat to retirement for working Americans.”

The full issue brief is available at

Social Security Benefit Myth #5:
You can claim early, then get a “bump up” once you reach full retirement age

Many believe there is a “bump up” or “added income” once they reach their full retirement age. They’ve heard they can claim early at 62, then when they reach 66 or older, their checks will increase to the amount that corresponds to their full retirement age benefit. That’s a big misperception.

There is no bumping up of income once you’ve claimed your Social Security retirement benefit. However, anyone receiving a benefit can voluntarily “suspend” that benefit after they reach FRA and resume it as late as age 70. If they do, the annual benefit will increase by 8% until age 70. After that, you get an annual cost of living adjustment, but no increase in your base benefit, which will start automatically the month you reach age 70 unless you specify otherwise. (Fidelity)

Social Security Announces 1.6 Percent Benefit Increase for 2020

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 69 million Americans will increase 1.6 percent in 2020, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 63 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2020. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2019. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earnings Limit Climbs

If you are between ages 62 and 66 or 67 (full retirement age) and working while also receiving monthly Social Security benefits, in 2020 you will be able to earn up to $18,240 ($1,520 per month) before the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your benefits for every $2 you earn. In the year you turn your full retirement age, the earnings limit will be $48,600 ($4,050 per month) before the agency will deduct $1 for every $3 you earn until the month you reach full retirement age. (For those born between 1943 and 1954, full retirement age is 66. It increases by two months for each year after until 67.) The earnings limit disappears once you reach full retirement age.

Beneficiaries receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will also see an increase in their monthly payment. SSI, a federal program that aids the aged, blind and people with disabilities who have little or no income by providing them funds for food, clothing and shelter. The individual amount grows by $12 a month, from $771 to $783. The amount for couples rises $32, from $1,157 to $1,175.

Where is Your Money?

“Of the $6.4 trillion in defined contribution assets managed by the 40 largest managers, the five largest controlled more than 63% of the market as of June 30. The market share for the top five managers has risen sharply over the past five years, particularly relative to the 40 largest as a whole. The five-year compound annual growth rate for the five largest was 7.71%, while the managers ranked six through 40 declined by about 1.5%.

Vanguard Group led all DC managers with $1.4 trillion in DC assets as of June 30, followed by BlackRock ($954.4 billion) and Fidelity Investments ($772.6 billion). Of the top 10 managers at the end of 2007, five remain. Fidelity fell to third from first, while Vanguard jumped to the top spot from fourth. Vanguard and BlackRock were prime movers by more than tripling their assets over the period. T. Rowe Price also saw significant growth, which is notable because it primarily manages active funds in a time when many investors are indexing.” Read more at

It’s About Time

Taxes on workers’ wages finance Social Security. Workers pay 6.2 percent of their earnings to fund the benefit (employers pay the same).

Next year, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase from $132,900 to $137,700. Not much but better than nothing. (AARP)

Health Tool From AARP

If you are like me, the older you get the more pills you take. This new page from AARP might be helpful to many of us. Check it out at

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