MOSERS Benefits & The Windfall Elimination Provision

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Are Employees covered by MOSERS but who also paid into social security subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision that reduces social security benefits?
As a MOSERS member, you would only be affected by the  Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) if you also earned a pension from other employment and didn’t pay social security taxes while in that position. We have addressed the WEP on our Rumor Central blog here and also discussed the Government Pension Offset (GPO) that is mentioned in the MSN article here.

We suggest you contact the Social Security Administration at or (800) 772-1213 to see how it might affect you. They have two publications on their website that may be helpful, too:

Windfall Elimination Provision:  

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/17/15

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From Bloomberg View: Three Ways to Boost Retirement Savings

It's tax day. Perhaps like millions of your fellow Americans, you waited to the last minute to file and will be trudging off to the post office or filing electronically later today. I'm not going to lecture about your procrastination. However, I am going to ask you two somewhat tax-related questions: 
  1. How much have you saved for your retirement?
  2. On how much of those savings were taxes deferred?
Your answers will determine how you will spend your golden years when you no longer earn an income but need money for life’s necessities. This is more than a personal question; it is an issue with tremendous national ramifications.

From NBC News: Baby Boomers' Confidence in Comfortable Retirement Tumbles

Baby boomers' confidence in a good retirement is plummeting, according to a survey released Monday.

The Insured Retirement Institute survey found that 27 percent of baby boomers are confident they will have enough money to last through their retirement, down from 33 percent a year ago and 37 percent in 2011. Only 6 in 10 boomers report having any retirement savings, down from roughly 8 in 10 in previous surveys.

From CalPERS: Defined Benefit Plans are the Cornerstone of Retirement Security

In a recent Q and A with Jared Meyer, former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio referred to public sector pension systems like CalPERS as  "Ponzi schemes."  We have a problem with that.

As a brief primer, CalPERS provides retirement and health benefits to 1.7 million members and their beneficiaries, with 575,000 retirees receiving monthly retirement benefits totaling $13 billion annually which help fuel the California economy. The average CalPERS pension is a modest $2,784 per month.

CalPERS is a defined benefit pension plan, with the benefits negotiated by employees and their employers or set by legislation, not by CalPERS. CalPERS job is to pay what's been negotiated, and we do that with a diversified investment portfolio of nearly three hundred billion dollars.

From Next Avenue: How Women Can Get Retirement Back on Track

When it comes to having enough money to retire, the statistics are staggering for boomer women who are single, divorced or widowed.

The lives of many women in this demographic have been laced with endless responsibilities that have deterred them from having enough resources to plan for their own retirement. For decades, they have been busy raising children,caring for aging parents and attending to family issues; all of which have interrupted career tracks and caused them to forfeit opportunities for their own financial gain. Thus, they now have a substantial shortfall of retirement savings.

From Investment News: Nearly half of retirees wish they had retired earlier

This is National Retirement Planning Week. From April 13 through 17, you can expect to hear from a coalition of financial services firms and consumer advocates as they sound the alarm about the coming retirement crises.

Numerous experts will stress that the only way for most Americans to bridge the yawning gap between their retirement income needs and their meager nest eggs is to start saving earlier and to plan to work longer. They'll add a pitch about the importance of working with a financial adviser to make an achievable retirement plan and to stick with it.

But first, let's take time for a reality check from real people who have already retired.

Annual Leave Payouts & Retiree Healthcare

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I know you can use your annual leave as a way to roll over money in the cafeteria plan to pay for health insurance. Do you have to use all of your leave this way or can a portion be used and then the rest paid out to you?
Check with your HR staff and MCHCP for specific information as it relates to you about if and how you can use some unused annual leave for health insurance premiums and have the rest paid out to you, but here is some general information we received from MCHCP on the topic: Your unused annual leave can be used to pay your medical insurance premiums during the remainder of the year in which you retire. When you fill out your MCHCP Retiree Enrollment Form, you may elect to deduct your premiums out of your one-time lump-sum vacation pay. Depending on how many hours of annual leave you have, this can be a sizeable amount and can result in tax savings!

After you send it in, MCHCP will call your department’s payroll representative to verify how much unused vacation you have. You can only pay for the remaining premiums in the year you have retired. For example, if you retire in November, you may pay for your December premiums with your unused leave.

 For more information about your particular situation, please contact MCHCP at 1-800-487-0771

Information About Survivor Benefits

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Where can I find information regarding; If a employee dies before retirement, does the employees spouse receive any retirement benefit from their deceased spouse?
We’ve answered a number of Rumor Central questions regarding death before retirement, which you can review at any time. More information is available on the Survivors page on our website.

If you are married, vested* in MOSERS, and die before retirement, your surviving spouse would be eligible for a survivor benefit.

The monthly benefit for your spouse will be based on the benefit you have accrued as of your date of death and calculated according to the Joint & 100% Survivor Option. The survivor benefit will be paid monthly for the remainder of your spouse's lifetime.

Benefit payments can begin the first of the month following your date of death,  but your spouse must submit an Application for Survivor Benefits and any necessary documentation. There is nothing you need to do for your retirement benefit, but we do encourage you to make sure your life insurance beneficiaries are current (if you have life insurance with MOSERS).

*If you aren’t sure which plan you belong to or the vesting requirement, check the Which Plan Am I In? section of MOSERS’ website.

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/10/15

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From MoneyGirl: Tips to Find the Right Financial Advisor

When you're ready to get serious about achieving your financial goals, most of us can benefit from the help of a professional financial advisor or retirement planning expert.
But it's not easy to know where to find someone who is reputable and right for your situation.  
Related: The State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan’s April DC Update

From PlanSponsor: Three-Legged Retirement Income Stool More Wobbly

Retirement security will likely be jeopardized for more Americans because of the shift away from defined benefit (DB) plans and fewer workplace plans, a paper contends.

Several factors—a drop in the number of employers that offer a workplace retirement plan, the shift away from defined benefit (DB) plans and overall inadequate savings rates by workers—form a dire view of retirement for many workers, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at The New School and co-author of a new report.
Related: Not Your Average Pension Plan

From The New York Times: Renovation vs. Relocation in Retirement

Should you downsize and move to a new neighborhood? Or renovate the family residence to suit your retirement needs and lock in for the long term? It is one of the most vexing questions older people face as they plan the shift from a working life to retirement.

Mary and Christopher Anderson, who live on the western edge of Milwaukee, know the situation well. They wrestled for several years with whether to renovate their 1953 ranch house in preparation for retirement, or leave it and move to the suburbs. But every time they tried to buy a house, someone beat them to it.

From Forbes: Social Security Q&A: Why Can't I Claim Unreduced Retirement Benefits at 58?

Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings have the most to gain from maximizing their Social Security.

Today’s question asks why it is not possible to take unreduced retirement benefits at age 58. The answer explains when the earliest benefits can be claimed and then examines the consequences of claiming at this early age.

From USA Today: Retirement: Minimize taxes to maximize savings

Retirement planning is hard enough for most Americans. But when you layer in a convoluted web of U.S. tax laws, the task can seem truly overwhelming.

Some complexity is unavoidable. After all, how much you make, when you choose to retire and how much you'll need in retirement can vary greatly from family to family.

But the good news is that while there are no universal truths to retirement and tax planning, there are some common rules of thumb that the typical American should follow when trying to minimize taxes and maximize retirement savings.

Here are a few pointers to ensure the tax man isn't taking too much of a bite out of your investments, and to ensure you keep more of your money to reach your financial goals.

April Financial To-Do

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April showers bring May flowers, but this month also comes with a number of financial to-dos to keep you on track for financial wellness!

1. Re-Evaluate Your Budget. Deadline: Friday, April 11

How well are you sticking to your budget? Did you have unexpected expenses last year? Start again by these simple steps:
  1. Assessing your Income (worksheet)
  2. Identifying your starting point (worksheet)
  3. Set your priorities (worksheet)
  4. Set your achievable financial goals (worksheet)
  5. Create your spending plan (worksheet)

2. Put the Finishing Touches on Your Taxes. Deadline: Tuesday, April 15

Hopefully, you’ve gotten ahead and turned these in. If you haven’t, you may want to look into filing for a six-month extension on your tax returns. But keep in mind, just because the time to file the return is extended, your responsibility to pay your taxes is not.

3. Give Your Insurance Polices a Once-Over. Deadline: Monday, April 21

Do you know exactly what your insurance policy covers? Did you have any life changes, such as new household drivers or moving to a new residence? This month is a great time to give your policies a once-over and make sure there’s no gaps where you’re not covered.

4. File Your Financial Documents. Deadline: Friday, April 25

Now that your taxes (or an extension) are filed, it’s time to get rid of the financial clutter and organize your documents. Here’s a quick list of what to keep and what to toss. Want more in-depth information? Kim McGrigg wrote an excellent post that you may find helpful.

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/3/15

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From U.S. News: 5 Things the Easter Bunny Can Teach Us About Retirement

Easter has its origins in Europe from celebrating the goddess of spring, known as Ä’ostre. This goddess’s earthly symbol is the rabbit. For some, Easter is a religious celebration, while for others it has become a highly commercialized holiday that focuses on a rabbit who delivers Easter baskets to children.

Knowing that Easter is upon us, I began to think about the poor Easter Bunny who delivers all those Easter baskets. He's obviously been on the job for decades, so he has to be coming up on retirement fairly soon. That being the case, you would hope that he has some kind of retirement plan set up, maybe a rabbit 401(k) or private pension. But whether he does or not, here are five things that he (and you) should definitely have in preparation for retirement.

From U.S. News: Retirement Happiness Depends on Your Perspective

Getting retirement right has a lot to do with setting reasonable expectations. It is not just about what you want – it’s also facing the reality of what you get. Some look forward to an idyllic escape from the stress and strain of working for a living, a time to slow down and smell the roses and enjoy the moment. Others may hold a more pessimistic view, imagining their second act as one of gradual decline and loss of independence. For the majority of us, retirement will be somewhere in between. But having the right outlook and a realistic perspective may help tilt the scale in our favor.

When we are young, we have great aspirations for the life we want to live. Ahead lies a promising career that hopefully inspires us. By working hard and saving, we might have those nice things that make life more enjoyable. And perhaps we envision a family to share our life and love with. We want it all, we feel there is no reason we should not have it all and we have plenty of time to give it our best shot.

From ABC News: Kansas Lawmakers OK Plan to Use Bonds for Pension System

Kansas is expected to issue $1 billion in bonds to bolster its pension system for teachers and government workers after the Legislature authorized the debt.

Some lawmakers see the move as potentially risky, and the votes in the Republican-dominated Legislature were relatively close despite a push from GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

From Las Vegas Review-Journal: EDITORIAL: Latest PERS reform bills a positive step, but not nearly enough

The state Legislature this week held hearings on two bills that attempt to reduce the cost of pension benefits through very modest changes that would only apply to new hires. Not to any retiree currently drawing a pension from the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System, nor to any current public-sector employee.

Both bills have their positives, but neither one does nearly enough to address a program that is currently 71 percent funded and states its long-term unfunded liability at $12.5 billion — with some estimates pegging that liability far higher.

From Wealth Management: Traditional Pensions: Did a Golden Age Ever Exist?

The defined benefit pension: the golden age of retirement security, or not so much? It’s a key question in the debate about the retirement security crisis facing so many Americans.

The percent of households working in the private sector with a defined benefit (DB) pension has fallen sharply in recent years, and Federal Reserve data shows that they will become nearly extinct in the years ahead. In 2010, 18.3 percent of 55- to 64-year-old households had defined-benefit pensions, but the younger age groups coming up behind them are much less likely to be covered - just 10.4 percent of households age 45-54 had a defined-benefit plan, and the numbers fall sharply from there.