Pension Matters

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

December 2019

Editor’s note: June Morse may be contacted at or 517-886-9323.
What to Know About Social Security Changes for 2020?

The cost of living adjustment (COLA) will increase Social Security benefits by 1.6 percent in 2020, an average of about $24 per month for individuals.

The monthly premium for Medicare Part B recipients is expected to be announced soon.

Next year, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase from $132,900 to $137,700.

According to the 2019 annual report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the trust fund reserves that help pay for Social Security benefits will be fully depleted in 2035, unless Congress passes new legislation. Once those funds are exhausted, the program would only be able to pay out 80 percent of what each beneficiary should be getting. (AARP)

Staying Safe On line

When it comes to passwords, is your desk a sea of sticky notes scrawled with cryptic numbers and letters (kind of like mine), or can anyone who knows your dog’s name and your three lucky numbers access everything from your bank balance to your Facebook profile?

Yes? Well, you are not alone.

Passwords are needed for just about everything we do in our digital life, but keeping them straight is a challenge. We’re not supposed to use the same password for all our online activity — because if someone guesses or hacks it, they now have access to all your accounts — yet we’re not supposed to write passwords down either.

There are a few popular password managers to choose from that can help you out with the password gauntlet — Dashlane1 PasswordRoboFormTrue KeyKeeperSticky PasswordLast Pass and ZOHO Vault, to name a few — and they’re generally free to start and easy to use. Read more about these at AARP “Scams and Fraud”

Michigan AG Nessel Pushes for DTE Residential Rate Decrease in Response to its Rate Increase Request

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel last week filed testimony in DTE Energy’s rate hike case before the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), arguing its nine percent increase is excessive and unnecessary.

DTE filed its rate increase request with the MPSC in July. The request includes an annual increase in revenues of $351 million, which would result in more than a nine percent rate increase for residential, commercial and industrial customers. Read more at

Update on the Funded Status of State and Local Pension Plans — FY 2018

by Jean-Pierre Aubry and Caroline V. Crawford

The update’s key findings are:

  • The funded ratio of state and local pensions edged up to 73 percent in FY 2018, but has been largely flat for several years and is well below its peak in 2001.
  • Liability growth has steadily declined during the past two decades — from 7.7 percent in 2002 to 3.8 percent in 2018 — but asset growth has been even slower.
  • Given these trends, if plan sponsors want to improve plan funded ratios, a key challenge is to increase their asset base through contributions.
  • One way forward is to adopt more stringent funding methods such as level-dollar amortization and shorter amortization periods.
  • Another, more important, change is to lower assumed investment returns, which would help ensure funding progress by further raising required contributions.

Be Aware

Beginning on Nov. 15, taxpayers who have been referred to collections due to outstanding state debts may receive a call from either GC Services or Harris and Harris to inquire about payment options. “Working together with taxpayers is our first and foremost objective,” said Deputy State Treasurer Ann Good, who oversees Treasury’s Financial and Administrative Services programs. “If you have an outstanding state tax debt or other state debt, please contact the state Treasury Department immediately so we can walk through your options.” Press Release 11-14-2019 from Michigan Department of Treasury

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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