Pretax Dollars for Medical Expenses

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When employed our family set aside pretax dollars to a fund from which we paid unreimbursed medical expenses. Does MOSERS have such a fund?
You are referring to the State's Cafeteria Plan. That is a benefit that is available to active state employees and is administered through ASIFlex. There is no like benefit available through MOSERS.
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Missouri Consolidated Health Care (MCHCP) Reserves

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Channel 5 news announced that you "MOSERS" had given the state 90 Million of our excess money from our health care fund. We also found an article from the St. Louis Business Journal. My question is will that money be paid back? Will the fund still have enough money for the retirees and employees?
MOSERS is the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System, which administers retirement, life insurance and long term disability insurance for Missouri state employees and retirees. The article in the St. Louis Business Journal to which you refer is about the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP), the organization that administers health care benefits for Missouri state employees. MOSERS and MCHCP are two distinctly different organizations and our funding is also separate.
Since we do not handle health insurance for state employees we cannot respond to your question. However, it has been forwarded to Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP) to see if they can address your concerns.   
While we can’t comment on the health care plan, the state of Missouri makes payments in full and on time to the MOSERS trust fund. Your retirement system remains well funded and your promised benefits are secure.
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Comments on Josh Rauh's Studies

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Please comment on the recent article by Josh Rauh entitled " The Day of Reckoning for State Pension Plans" dated 3-22-10, in which he claims that the Missouri State Retirement Plan will go broke in 2021.
Just yesterday, Keith Brainard, Research Director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) issued this letter to the editor. It was published in the online magazine Pension & Investments (P&I). While the P&I letter to the editor by Mr. Brainard addresses projections made by Mr. Rauh in the recent past, we think it appropriately addresses Mr. Rauh's sentiments in the article you mention.  It is reprinted below in full. For further information, you might want to read a recent article, "What's Really Behind the New "Truth," written by MOSERS Executive Director Gary Findlay, and published on our website on 11-1-10.
Flawed studies misleading readers
Letters to the Editor
Source: Pensions & Investments
Date: November 15, 2010 
 
Pensions & Investments' reference to projections made in studies by Joshua Rauh, et al., (“Tough decision looms,” Editorial, Nov. 1) as if they are matters of fact, is as misleading to your readers as the studies themselves. A glimpse beneath the veneer of these studies would reveal specious methods and assumptions that are used to arrive at the startling conclusion that most public pension plans face near-term insolvency. 
 
For example, the authors assume that over the next decade, public pension plans will receive no contributions to pay down their unfunded liabilities. Since fiscal year 2001, the average annual required contribution paid to public pension plans exceeds 90%, and a majority of plans can be reasonably expected to continue to receive their full contribution. Many states and cities mandate payment of the full pension contribution. Simply wishing away these contributions, as do the authors of these studies, does not mean the contributions won't be paid. With the rest of the media that has reported these findings, P&I has an obligation to question this assumption.

Another method used in these and like studies is the application of a corporate-style pension accounting standard to value public pension liabilities. This method uses current interest rates, which conveniently are at multidecade lows, to project the cost of future pension liabilities. Yet, after taking into account written comments and hearing oral testimony from dozens of individuals reflecting a wide range of views and backgrounds, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board recently “considered but rejected” this very method, stating, “The rate used should be a reasonable estimate of the rate at which plan net assets are expected to grow, over a term commensurate with the accounting measurements for which the rate is used, as a result of investment earnings.” In other words, the body responsible for setting standards for calculating public pension liabilities has specifically rejected the method used in recent studies to contend that the public pension sky is falling.

The liability projections in these studies are wildly inconsistent with the findings of the professional actuaries who are trained and certified to make such calculations. Were those making these projections professional actuaries, their professional standards would preclude them from reporting these dramatic results.

How public pension liabilities should be valued, whether current public pension investment return assumptions are appropriate, and whether GASB in its present form is the optimal governance model for determining public sector accounting standards, are all reasonable questions and fair game for debate. But these projections, made on the basis of methods and assumptions of one's own choosing, ought to be called out for what they are: an opinion. 
 
Keith Brainard
Research Director
National Association of State Retirement Administrators
Georgetown, Texas
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Is Withdrawing or Borrowing Against the MOSERS Fund Allowed?

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Is it possible for a member to withdraw some funds from the MOSERS account or to borrow funds against the account?
MOSERS is a non-contributory benefit plan for members hired before January 1, 2011. For those members, your employer pays the necessary contributions into our system so that you may draw a future retirement benefit. Since those members do not pay these contributions, they are not eligible to withdraw monies from their retirement plan.  
Members hired in a MOSERS covered position for the first time on or after January 1, 2011 are required to contribute 4% of their gross salary to help fund the retirement system. Those members, if they leave state employment, will have the option of requesting a refund of the contributions they have made to the retirement system plus any applicable interest. Any member who receives a refund will forfeit the right to receive any future retirement benefits from MOSERS.  
Members of MOSERS are not eligible to borrow against the fund for any reason

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Temporary Benefit

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Is it true that you can't get the temporary benefit if you retire earlier than your projected retirement date?
Members who are eligible to retire normally under the MSEP2000 plan, and do so prior to their 62nd birthday, will receive a temporary benefit in addition to their normal monthly benefit. This temporary benefit will be paid until the member's 62nd birthday.
Members who retire early are not eligible to receive this temporary benefit.
For more information on the temporary benefit, please consult our "General Employees' Retirement Handbook."

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Life Insurance

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Can I purchase life insurance for my spouse who just lost his job?
In order to obtain optional life coverage on your spouse, you must complete the "Enrollment/Change Optional Life Insurance" form and your spouse must complete the "Standard Medical History Statement." Both of these forms may be found here.
Your spouse's insurance coverage, if approved, may not exceed the lesser of $100,000 or the amount of your optional coverage. 
The cost of life insurance is determined as a monthly premium. You pay a flat rate for every one thousand dollars in coverage you have. The rate you pay for both your coverage and your spouse's coverage is determined by your age on the "Schedule of Monthly Premiums."
For a schedule of these premiums, or further information on life insurance, please consult our Life Insurance Handbook.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact a benefit counselor at (800) 827-1063.

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COLA 2011

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What is the possibility of receiving a COLA this year? I retired under the new plan and with my health insurance going up I just thought I would ask. Thanks for your time and help
At this point, we don't know if there will be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2011. We will not be able to make a determination until mid-January at which time we will have the complete picture of the Consumer Price Index for all of 2010. COLA rates are determined in January, and we will inform members of the COLA rate at that time.
See these two recent Rumor Central posts for more information.
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What Happens if the Federal Government Raises the Early Retirement Age of 62?

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I retired quite early from State of Missouri at 49. I'm now 55. I will receive the incentive pay until I'm 62 and first take SS benefits. What will happen if the federal government raises the early retirement age of 62. I thought I remembered that the bill stated at the time the incentive would go until 62 or first eligible for early social security. What is your take on this?
The legislation to which you are referring regarding the temporary benefit originally said "first eligible for social security" with no mention of age 62. The words "no later than 62" were added later. Section 104.1024 RSMo reads, in part:
The temporary annuity and any cost-of-living adjustments attributable to the temporary annuity pursuant to section 104.1045 shall terminate at the end of the calendar month in which the earlier of the following events occurs: the member's death or the member's attainment of the earliest age of eligibility for reduced Social Security retirement benefits, but no later than age sixty-two.
 If the federal government raisethe age at which a person can take early social security benefits, it would take a change to Missouri law in order for us to pay the temporary benefit past age 62.
 See this recent Rumor Central post for further information on this subject. You may also want to click on the "social security" label at the bottom of the post. That will bring up all the posts on the subject that we've done.
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Reduction of Pay

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Is it true that if you are within 3 years of retiring your pay cannot be decreased?
No, that is not true. There is no provision in the law that says pay cannot be reduced.
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Was MOSERS' Email System "Hacked" (regarding the Blackstone Issue)?

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Has the FBI been contacted concerning the breach of security by the union that hacked our email addresses? The vast majority of co-workers I have spoken with are more concerned about union hackers stealing their email than they are about the politics of investments.  Once again: Is law enforcement investigating?
No, we did not contact law enforcement because our security was not breached.  We do not know the source of the e-mail addresses used for the mass mailing by the union other than to know it was not acquired through the MOSERS system.  Our confidence regarding that is the result of the following:

  • Two years ago we had a comprehensive information technology (IT) intrusion audit conducted and, through that initiative, established a comprehensive monitoring process for identifying attempts to breach our security.  There have been no successful attempts to circumvent the IT security we have in place.
  • The addresses used by the union appear to have all been work e-mail addresses.  In many cases we do not have work addresses but rather only have personal addresses on file.  If our system had been breached as the source, they would have been using the addresses of record with us.  We know that there were many cases where the address they used was not what we have on file.
  • We know that there were MoDOT employees who received the message from the union.  Those employees are not covered by MOSERS and thus are not included in our database.  Thus, we could not possibly have been the source of those addresses.
  • Our email servers do not use the statewide address book.  You could not “hack” into our email system to obtain the addresses that were exploited in this campaign.
The Office of Administration (OA) is aware of this situation.  OA also monitors attempts to breach their system and did not find any successful attempts to circumvent their IT security. Therefore, what we do know is that neither MOSERS nor OA gave this organization the email addresses of state employees, and neither of our systems was “hacked” by this group.
It’s difficult to identify exactly where the addresses might have been obtained and in fact it could be from a consolidated list of multiple sources.  While the State no longer publishes email address, almost every state employee has access to them.
In addition, it’s not that hard to guess them.  Each agency uses email addresses based on a standard naming structure--for example, “first.last@agency.mo.gov.”  Given that the names of state employees are public information, once you figure out the template it’s not difficult to extrapolate the actual addresses.
Your concerns at this point are best addressed to the individual and/or the organization that sent you the email.  It may be effective for them to hear directly from state employees who received the email that this tactic created concerns and may not reflect positively on their organization.
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