Straight Talk Blog Stats 2012 in Review

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012.

Click here to see the complete report. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five Dec 28 2012

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This is the last FTF of 2012!

The Friday Top Five: A collection of the top five news articles, blog posts, or other retirement related information from the past week.

From Pension Dialog: Pension Law Being [Re]Written Before our Eyes

This post addresses the actions taken by 45 states with regard to pensions in the past few years, many of which, including recent reforms in Rhode Island, are now being taken up in the courts. You can read more about the Rhode Island case here.

From Investopedia: Weave Your Own Retirement Safety Net

According to Wikipedia, Investopedia is "one of the Internet's largest sites devoted entirely to investing education. The site was started by Cory Janssen and Cory Wagner in June 1999 as an unbiased investing resource. Based in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, the site has become a well-respected source for financial information." In this article, the authors discuss "how traditional, safe income generating strategies may not be enough for the latest crop of retirees, and ... some alternative methods to help baby boomers generate sufficient income throughout retirement."

Investopedia also offers a "Life Stages" section, including areas on pursuing education, building a career, life as a couple, family life and enjoying retirement; and a "Retirement" section, which offers many articles on varying topics and issues that are present before and during retirement. These can be found under the Personal Finance tab.

From Study Shows Advantages of 'Defined Benefit' Pensions

This article is about research released in November 2012 from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) which "found unequivocally that offering 'defined benefit' pensions not only lowers administrative costs of government in the long run, but creates a more loyal, committed and engaged workforce." You can download the NIRS brief here.

From CBS MoneyWatch: "Chaining" Inflation Gauge Would Hurt Social Security Recipients

This article is about one proposed policy change among many with regard to the "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations happening in Washington, which is a change to the way inflation in Social Security payments is measured. The change would include implementation of a "chained" CPI.

From the Chicago Tribune: Real Math, Illinois Math. A Pension Boss Speaks Truth to Educators — And The Rest of Us

This article is about Dick Ingram, executive director of the Illinois Teachers Retirement Fund (TRS). From the article: "We don't see enough of this in Illinois: an employee speaking inconvenient truth to power. The General Assembly still includes many of the lawmakers who engineered this debacle with their votes to expand benefits they didn't pay for, and to leave taxpayers even more indebted by borrowing money to put into the funds.

Union leaders don't like Ingram's candor, either. Many were complicit, by neglect or design, in decisions to short-change their members' pension fund. The Illinois Federation of Teachers has insisted that Ingram, the messenger, resign over the message: TRS is in trouble. (Ingram didn't take IFT's advice.)"

You can read Ingram's OpEd piece, "Back to the Future on Pension Reform,"  here.

 The views expressed by the writers of these pieces are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of MOSERS. Print Friendly and PDF

Joint & 50% vs. Joint & 100% Survivor Benefits

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What is the difference between Joint & 50% Survivor, and Joint & 100%?
Under Joint & 50 % Survivor, your benefit will be reduced to provide a lifetime survivor benefit for your spouse. Your eligible spouse will receive 50% of the benefit amount you are receiving at the time of your death (excluding any temporary benefit). The Joint & 100% Survivor works very similarly. However, your benefit is reduced more but upon your death your spouse will receive 100% of the benefit amount you are receiving.

You can also calculate estimates including these payment options on our website using the "Estimate Your Retirement Benefit" feature from our secure site or by contacting a benefit counselor at 800-827-1063.

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An Open Letter to the President and All Members of Congress

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Mr. President, Members of Congress:

Those of us who make up the middle class collectively have trillions of dollars of net worth tied up in retirement savings accounts and home equity.  The imminent fiscal cliff has the potential to be at least as devastating to our financial well-being as was the credit crisis of 2008 and would be the worst form of tax on the middle class – no revenue for the federal government combined with a very significant loss of retirement income security for the masses. It would also be reasonable to expect the economic downward spiral to be exacerbated by a general loss of confidence in those we have sent to Washington DC to act in the best interest of all Americans.

There is no time left for brinksmanship or partisan politics. We know that you actually already know that. Now all you have to do is act on what you know.  It is no more complicated than that.

Gary Findlay is the executive director of MOSERS.

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Friday Top Five Dec 14 2012

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The Friday Top Five: A collection of the top five news articles, blog posts, or other retirement related information from the past week.

From National Journal: The To Do List For Rebuilding the U.S. Economy

Appearing as "The To Do List" as the cover story in the print edition, this article is, indeed,  comprehensive, examining "eight of the predicaments America faces in trying to regain its economic strength." We are excited to see that #8 on the list -- Retirement Security -- is being discussed. The other seven include Innovation, Jobs, Medical Costs, Entitlements, Finishing College, Infrastructure, and Housing.

From Pensions&Investments: Munnell Brings Scholarly Approach to Pension Issues

Hazel Bradford at P&I interviews Alicia Munnell, director, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and the Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences, Carroll School of Management, about her fascination with and views on public pensions.

From (Work in Progress): A Billion Dollar-Plus Return on Investment for Workers and Retirees

(Work in Progress) is the official blog of the U.S. Department of Labor. In this post, Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, discusses how the department protected or recovered over a billion dollars "in FY12 for workers who participate in private-sector employee benefit plans and their beneficiaries."

From NASRA: More Faulty Pension Analysis Unhelpful to State and Local Recovery Efforts

NASRA has re-issued its July 2011 issue brief in response to an earlier version of this Rauh/Novy-Marx study. An excerpt: "The paper ... uses underlying assumptions that understate revenues, inflate costs, and ignore other available public policy options. As a result, the paper's conclusions bear little resemblance to the actual practices of most state and local governments, or their pension plans, and again have limited application for policymakers wishing to address the financial impacts of the Great Recession."

From the Best Life blog: How Proposals to Raise Medicare, Social Security Ages Can Harm Americans

Philip Moeller discusses the "enormous and disturbing gaps, [between levels of education, race, gender, and life expectancy] and [how the] the age-related eligibility rules of Medicare and Social Security are simply not geared to effectively deal with them. Devising equitable policies would require extensive legislative collaboration and nuanced regulatory policies that are nowhere to be found in the fiscal-cliff negotiations."

The views expressed by the writers of these pieces are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of MOSERS. Print Friendly and PDF
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This is a good take on what pension funding really means. Print Friendly and PDF

Can the Federal Government Confiscate MOSERS Benefits?

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I have heard rumors that the federal gov is considering confiscation of retirement accounts across the country and using this money for their own purposes with the intentions of paying it back in the form of SSA benefits at a later date. Could they do that? 
You can refer to this question from 2011, which is similar in nature to yours. We are not aware of any such proposal. MOSERS benefits are secure and not subject to confiscation by the federal government. There are some retirement related proposals at the federal level, which is what you may be referring to. They are: The federal Automatic IRA Act of 2012,  the California Secure Choice Retirement Saving Trust Act (SB 1234), and Connecticut’s HB 5313 and 5337 that would establish a task force to consider the idea of a state-run retirement program.

However, none of them have anything to do with MOSERS.

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Social Security and Your MOSERS Pension

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I have heard that when my Social Security starts my pension from Missouri will be discontinued. Is this true?
No, that is not true. Your MOSERS pension benefit is for life. What you may have heard about is the temporary benefit that is available to members who choose the MSEP2000 plan at retirement.

 In the MSEP 2000, the temporary benefit is available until a person turns age 62, which happens to coincide with the earliest age Social Security benefits can be drawn. However, the two are technically unrelated. There are many Rumor Central questions that may provide you with more insight.

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Friday Top Five Dec 7 2012

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The Friday Top Five: A collection of the top five news articles, blog posts, or other retirement related information from the past week.

From Huffington Post: The Path to a Successful Retirement: Lessons from the Trailblazers

In this column, Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of AgeWave, discusses a recent survey done by his organization in which they "set out to reveal what the different types of retirement experiences are today, and the key factors that lead to a happy and secure retirement."

From The Best Life Blog: What Does Your Retirement Mecca Look Like?

In this post, Best Life blogger Phillip Moeller discusses significant measures of state and local performance with regard to their economies, fiscal health, and taxes, and what it might mean in terms of evaluating where you want to live during retirement. Interestingly, Columbia, MO is listed as fourth on Milkin's top 10 list of smaller metro areas for successful aging.

From Plan Sponsor: Modifying Public Pensions Better than DC Switch

In this Dec. 6, 2012 article, PlanSponsor offers summary information about a recently released National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) report (“On the Right Track? Public Pension Reforms in the Wake of the Financial Crisis") which says that 45 states have made changes to existing Defined Benefit (DB) pension plans in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

From Pension Dialog: Leadership and Public Pensions

In this blog post, Ady Dewey at PD uses Kentucky, Illinois and Pennsylvania as examples of states with elected officials who, in the words of the Talking Heads, are "talking a lot, but...not saying anything." As she points out, "We are witnessing a number of elected officials declaring, “We have a pension problem,” but sharing way too little about operations and realistic solutions—data which is available from their own systems.  In other words, these officials are not accepting leadership responsibilities to gather the facts, seek input, and be persistent enough to achieve resolution."

From Khan Academy: Pension Obligations

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit "with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere." In this "white-board" style video, they tackle the subject of pension obligations with regard to DB and DC plans, and how pensions tend to get underfunded. There's also a separate video highlighting the state of Illinois.

The views expressed by the writers of these pieces are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of MOSERS. Print Friendly and PDF

Multipliers for Each Plan

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What are the percents of pay for years of service? 
The formula used to determine a person’s retirement benefit
  • The multiplier for MSEP 2000 and MSEP 2011 is 1.7%.
  • The multiplier for MSEP is 1.6%.
We encourage you to explore the section of our website called “What Plan Am I In?” to read more about the provisions in each plan. Additionally, any of our benefit counselors are available during our regular business hours to discuss your individual circumstances.

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Final Payment Beneficiary vs. Designation of Agent

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I have noticed that the final payment beneficiary is not the same as designation agent. I sent a request to change the designation agent and assumed that it would change the final payment beneficiary. Is there anything else that I need to do to change the survivor final benefit designation agent?
The Designation of Agent form allows you to designate an agent to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. 
Your Final Payment Beneficiary is who you wish to receive your final payment once you pass away. To change your final payment beneficiary, please complete the Final Payment of Retirement/Survivor Benefits Change of Beneficiary(ies) form, located on our website.  Print Friendly and PDF