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This is part III of a blog series done by Pension Dialog on the upcoming GASB changes and how they will impact public pension liabilities. Print Friendly and PDF

America Saves Week is Feb 25 - Mar 2, 2013: Set a Goal. Make a Plan.Save Automatically.

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By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager.
The theme for America Saves Week 2013 is more than just a theme; it’s is the essence of a sound approach to savings, designed to help individuals take financial action. Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Knowing what you want to save for, how to achieve it, and then making the savings process automatic will allow you to reach your savings goal.

Set a Goal

You can save more by having a goal in mind. Visualizing what you want to save for gives your savings a purpose. You may be tempted to withdraw from your savings if it has no purpose. But once you have a goal in place, you know that taking money out of your savings is taking away from that ultimate goal. So what are you saving for? An emergency fund, a home, retirement, a car?

Make a Plan

Once you have your goal in place, make a plan for how you are going to save. To start, cut down on your spending and reduce high-cost debt. Next, keep track of what you spend and make a budget. Once you know where your money is going each month, you can cut down on unneeded spending and save the difference.

Don’t forget to keep your savings safe, secure, and growing. Banks, credit unions, and even the government offer a variety of financial products that can help you save.

Save Automatically

It can be hard to put aside money for savings. But there is an easy way to save money without ever missing it. Once you know how much you can save, make saving automatic. Many employers allow you to divide your paycheck into different accounts through direct deposit. Take advantage by putting part of your pay into a savings account. If you get paid in cash, take a small amount to the bank to deposit into a savings account each week.

Take the America Saves Pledge (or re-pledge) today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. You can also follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

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Friday Top Five Feb 22 2013

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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 Justia.com: Protecting Social Security From an Onslaught of Misinformation: Young People Need to Make Sure That This Essential Program Will Be There to Help Them

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar, a Professor of Law at The George Washington University, and a Senior Fellow at the Taxation Law and Policy Research Institute, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). In this very informative column, he argues that "Social Security is not in crisis, and it is not facing an unsustainable future. [And he] explains the basic financial workings of the Social Security program."

From Pension Dialog: Funding Policies: Changing Direction—or Not

This is a post about state and local pension funding policies. Many are set in statute. Often they are complex and aren't understood by many. The National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) offers a standing resolution on public pension funding, which reads, in part:

  • Predictability and stability of required costs are the foundation of public sector budgeting and enable policymakers, and ultimately taxpayers, to assess the underlying true cost of any long-term public program, and the imposition of elements that would cause wide swings in required pension costs would be unnecessarily financially disruptive, confusing and counterproductive; and

  • Established funding policies can benefit retirement plans, participants, employers, and other stakeholders by clearly defining target funding goals, policies to stabilize contributions over time and a commitment to sound financing.

From The Washington Post: Now 74, NPR’s Susan Stamberg Talks About the Ups and Downs of Aging


This is a delightful interview with one of National Public Radio's (NPR) iconic voices.

From WiseBread: Two Book Reviews

From The Wall Street Journal: How to Get to Retirement? Practice!

According to this article, "there are three kinds of retirees: the "cliff diver," who works to normal retirement age and then retires; the "worker bee," who works longer and delays retirement; and the "retiree in training," who works and starts retiring throughout his or her 60s. Which type of retiree you choose to be can have a big impact on how much money you will have to spend."

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

Unused Sick Leave and Colleges & Universities

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Is is true that some institutions covered by MOSERS are not in compliance with regulations when they do not allow retirees to use the 168 hours of unused medical leave for one month of service? I retired from an institution about four years ago that did not allow me to use many hours of unused sick leave. Now, I understand that has changed. How couldsome places not have used that rule if required? 
The statutes governing credited service and sick leave state that when a member terminates employment and retires, unused sick leaveas reported directly by their department, for which the member has not been paid will be converted to credited service at the time of application for retirement benefits. In addition it specifies one month of service credit be awarded for every 168 hours reported. MOSERS has applied sick leave credit accordingly since the plans inception.

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Behind the Scenes at MOSERS - Part IV

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MOSERS created a 4-part, “behind the scenes at your retirement system,” series of interactive website pieces, showing the faces of our staff and our members. It is titled “Envisioning Your Future with MOSERS.”

We hope you learn something new in this interactive series about your retirement system, our staff, or about defined benefit retirement plans in general.

Part IV of IV

Sound Investment Practices Print Friendly and PDF

HB 129 and Taxes

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If HB 129 would pass, would taxes have to be paid on the incentive? What is the deadline date for the House to approve or disapprove this bill?
Yes, taxes would have to be paid on the incentive payments, should this bill become law. The 2013 legislative session ends May 17. We encourage you to follow the action on this bill by visiting this link. There is currently no House hearing scheduled, and the bill is not currently on a House calendar to be heard. Print Friendly and PDF

Economic Impact of the State Retirement System

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MOSERS is pleased to provide Legislative District Maps displaying the economic impact of the state retirement system on individual legislative districts. Currently, MOSERS distributes more than $537 million in retirement* and survivor benefits, and nearly 90% of that money remains in Missouri, going toward things like basic goods and services in our local communities. Click on the map links below for a count of members, as well as the total amount of active payroll and benefit payments distributed to active and retired members of MOSERS (or their survivors), who reside in your district.

*Does not include BackDROP payments

If you aren’t sure which district you are in, go to each of these links and enter your ZIP Code:

Congressional District Map

House District Map

Senate District Map


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Friday Top Five Feb 15 2013

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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 Women's Institute For A Secure Retirement (WISER): WISER Testifies At Senate Hearing On Retirement Savings

On January 31st, WISER President Cindy Hounsell testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the hearing "Pension Savings: Are Workers Saving Enough?"  To read WISER's written testimony click here.  A video archive of the hearing can also be viewed here. This is excellent testimony on behalf of women and the unique issues they face before, and during, their retirement years.

From The New York Times: Borrowing From the Future

The folks at HelloWallet have some interesting advice for those not participating in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan: Don't. At least not until you have sufficient emergency savings. This may seem odd (indeed, it does seem odd to us), but their reasoning is based on recent research by the consumer group which shows that nearly a quarter of the nearly $300 billion contributed by employees and employers to defined contribution plans in 2010 was withdrawn early for non-retirement uses, for things such as  “everyday basic financial management problems, from trouble paying bills to general expenses that they feel like they cannot keep up with.”

From The Huffington Post Blog: More and More It's an Older Woman's World -- of Work

Much has changed in the labor force since WWII. Then, 8 out of 10 workers age 55 and older were men. In 2012, 47% of the workforce were women, which presents its own unique set of retirement related issues. From the article: "Many older women are or will become widowed; large numbers have never married or are divorced or separated. These women are typically on their own when it comes to financial support in old age. Women are far more likely than older men to live alone, and, on average, they live longer than men. They typically earn less, are more likely to work part-time, and more often interrupt their work lives for care-giving, even at older ages."

From The Squared Away Blog: Why Minorities Need Social Security More

This is a very important post from the Squared Away Blog, which is a project of the Financial Security Project at Boston College, and funded by the Social Security Administration. It reports that "Social Security is now more critical than ever to whether retirees can make it financially, because traditional pensions are becoming rare." This is especially the case for minorities. Included is a Social Security fact sheet from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

From MarketWatch at the WSJ: Does the U.S. ‘steal’ from Social Security?

In a word, no. This blog post explains.

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

Cafeteria Plan

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I heard that the state's cafeteria plan was available to retirees, is this true?
No, that is not true. The Missouri Cafeteria plan is only available to active employees. Print Friendly and PDF

Behind the Scenes at MOSERS - Part III

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MOSERS created a 4-part, “behind the scenes at your retirement system,” series of interactive website pieces, showing the faces of our staff and our members. It is titled “Envisioning Your Future with MOSERS.”

We hope you learn something new in this interactive series about your retirement system, our staff, or about defined benefit retirement plans in general.

Part III of IV

Professional Plan Administration Print Friendly and PDF

10 Ways to Save $100 During America Saves Week

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By Meg Favreau, Senior Editor of personal finance blog Wise Bread.

Money is like a cake. When you get that delicious dessert, it can be tempting to eat it all at once. But if you do, you’ll end up with a stomach ache, that sugar-coated feeling on your teeth, and perhaps most importantly – no cake for later.

Similarly, if you spend all of your money, you’ll probably end up regretting your splurges – and wishing you had some funds sitting in the bank.

Often, savings strategies are obvious – you set a big piece of cake aside, and it’s there waiting for you. But sometimes, it’s the little things that make that cake disappear. I’m reminded of the time my childhood friend Mike held a cake on his lap while we were driving home. He took fingerful after fingerful of frosting – and when we got home, Mike discovered that he had completely defrosted the cake without realizing it.

The following list features both kinds of savings strategies – big ones that work all at once, and little ones that add up over time. All of them can be put into action during America Saves Week, and every single one ensures that you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Track Your Spending, and Make a Budget

Understanding where your money is going is the best way to start saving, which is why your first step is to make a budget. It might be that, once you make your budget and realize how much you’re spending in certain categories, you can immediately save $100 by making little trims here and there.

2. Pack Your Lunch

One of the keys to saving is developing long-term habits – such as bringing your own lunch to work instead of eating out. If you’re worried you don’t have time, cook something on Sunday and put it in individual Tupperware containers. Start this week, and over the course of a month, you can easily save $100.

3. Check If You’re Being Over-Serviced

It’s easy to “set it and forget it,” paying the same bills every month. This week, take a look at your regular services – are you using all of your cell phone minutes? Do you have more coverage than you need on your car insurance? Are you utilizing any extra cable channels you pay for? If your answer is no to any of these, call your provider, and change your plan.

4. Negotiate Your Bills

Checking for over-servicing isn’t the only way to lower your regular bills. If you’re not paying a promotional rate for services like cable and Internet, you’re paying too much. Call your service provider, and ask if there is any way you can lower your bill. If they don’t automatically say yes, suggest that you’re going to find another provider. Be patient, nice, and firm, and you can get a better rate.

5. Vow to Reuse, Repair, and Repurpose Instead of Buying New

Every time you think about buying something new, ask yourself – do you really need it, or can you make do with something you already have or that you can borrow from a friend?

6. Get to Know Your Credit Card

Visit your credit card company’s website and read the fine print. Many credit cards offer free benefits that are not well publicized. These benefits may include extended warranties, free tickets, price drop protection, extra discounts, concierge services, and cash giveaways. Of course, you should not use a credit card at all if you carry a balance every month. If you can’t control your spending, consider switching over to a cash-only system.

7. Change Your Living Situation

Yes, this is a big change – but it also has big financial rewards. If you have extra space in your house, try renting out a room, either permanently or to travelers using a service like Airbnb. Or, if you live alone, it might be time to get a roommate.

8. Clean Out Your Pantry

Empty your cupboards, see what you have, and plan meals around the ingredients you want to use up. You’ll slash your next grocery bill, and you’ll help ensure that food doesn’t go stale.

9. Create a “Cheap Fun Club” With Friends

If you’re trying to save money, it can be disheartening when friends invite you to things that you don’t want to spend money on. Instead, be proactive, and invite your friends to share in frugal activities with you, such as potlucks, watching movies at home, and board game nights.

10. Sell Your Stuff

Taking the time to declutter your house and sell your extra stuff has multiple benefits. Not only can you make money getting rid of your old items, but you might also discover other useful things you had forgotten about.

How are you planning to save money for America Saves Week?          

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status.

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COLA Cap

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I retired from the State of Missouri under MSEP and I was hired before Aug. 28, 1997. I understand I will receive a minimum 4% COLA until my accumulated COLAs reach 65% of my original benefit. How will I know when I reach the 65% limit?
Your estimated date to reach the COLA cap can be found on your annual benefit statement in the COLA section. It says “Estimated Date to Reach 65% COLA Cap….” And a date. Typically is around 12 years after you’ve retired.

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Unused Sick Leave and Service

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I know that every 168 hours of unused medical leave can count as 1 month of service for the benefit calculation. Is there a maximum number of months which can be included?
There is no maximum number of months that can be included.

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Annual and Sick Leave at Retirement

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When I retire will I get a check for all of my annual leave hours? What will happen to my sick leave hours?
Annual Leave is not used in calculating your retirement. Any unused annual leave will be paid by the agency for which you work.  You may want to contact your human resources representative to determine your agency's procedure for paying out unused annual leave. 

Your unused sick leave is used in calculating the amount of your retirement benefit, however it cannot be used to determine eligibility for retirement or BackDROP. You will receive one month of credited service for every 168 hours of unused sick leave reported to MOSERS by your employer at the time you leave your position. There are several Rumor Central posts regarding sick leave that you might find helpful.
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HB 129

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Are there any bills that are making their way through the legislature now for insurance benefits for a retirement incentive or any bills that are going to be presented?
Currently there has been one bill introduced during the 2013 session of the Missouri Legislature which includes language proposing a “years of service” incentive. It is HB129 and you can read about it on our Rumor Central blog. Currently there are no bills including any language proposing an incentive which has to do with medical insurance.

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HB 129 Years of Service Incentive Window

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Am I correct that someone who could retire in 2013, with the 80 & out rule, would have to wait until April 2014 to retire to receive the bonus?
That is correct. To receive the incentive which is proposed in the introduced version of HB129, a person must terminate employment on or after April 1, 2014, after reaching normal eligibility. A person’s whose annuity begins on or after May 1, 2014, but no later than July 1, 2014, shall be eligible to receive the years of service incentive benefit described in section 104.405.

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Friday Top Five Feb 8 2013

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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 PensionDialog: Public Pension Plan Investing

This is a very informative blog post about how public pension systems invest. It includes a link to a recent National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) primer on public pension investing, as well as a short video featuring New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on the subject of divestiture from gun manufacturers.

From MSN's LifeInc. blog: Americans Like Social Security -- And Are Willing to Pay to Keep It

A recent survey released by the National Academy of Social Insurance shows that most Americans think Social Security is important to preserve and that they are willing to pay more in taxes to do so.

From The Washington Post: The Price of Moral Grandstanding

In last week's FTF, we linked to an article in the NYT by Alicia Munnell (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) about pension plans divesting from gun makers. This week, read George Will's take on the subject.

From The New York Times: In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better ... It’s Brutal

"In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath."

From aiCIO: Ratings Agencies Downgrade on Kentucky's Pension Woe

Also in last week's FTF, there was a story about Illinois's credit rating being downgraded by S&P, due in part to the legislature's inaction on pension reform. This week, it's Kentucky. "According to Moody’s, this rating carries more weight than just an assessment for specific bonds; it 'represents the state’s implicit general obligation rating.'”

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

Behind the Scenes at MOSERS - Part II

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MOSERS created a 4-part, “behind the scenes at your retirement system,” series of interactive website pieces, showing the faces of our staff and our members. It is titled “Envisioning Your Future with MOSERS.”

We hope you learn something new in this interactive series about your retirement system, our staff, or about defined benefit retirement plans in general.

Part II of IV

Outstanding Benefit Services Print Friendly and PDF

5 Easy Ways to Get Involved in America Saves Week and Save Successfully

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By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Manager.

America Saves Week, February 25 – March 2, 2013, is chance for individuals to assess their own saving status and take financial action. Studies reveal that having a savings plan with specific goals can have beneficial financial effects, even for lower-income families.

Here are 5 easy ways to get involved in America Saves Week:

1. Take the America Saves Pledge
Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save for emergencies and retirement than those without a plan. Join over 310,000 people who have already committed to save. Pledge or re-pledge today!

2. Share Your Savings Goal
People save more successfully when they have a goal in mind. That’s why we’ve created posters so you can put your savings goal into perspective and share it.

3. Assess Your Savings
Find out if you are saving in all the right places with this 12 step savings assessment.

4. Test Your Savings Knowledge
Take this savings quiz to reveal how much you understand about the realities of savings in America.

5. Share Savings Tips and Advice with Family and Friends
On Twitter and Facebook? Share these social media posts with your friends and followers to encourage them to save.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five Feb 1 2013

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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 The New York Times: A Pension for Security, Not Politics

Following the massacre in Newtown, CT, politicians (Rahm Immanuel in Chicago) and pension officials in CA, NY, CT, and MA have called for divestiture from firearms companies. Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College suggests in this opinion piece that "divestiture [by public pension plans of gun manufacturer stock] will have no impact on the targeted companies and will create risk for already vulnerable plans." She also says public pension plans should not be used to accomplish public policy goals.

From Governing.com: Fat Cat Public Retirees? Think Again.

A few highly compensated retirees have gotten attention the past few years, overshadowing what is true for most public retirees, and that is that they are not well-to-do. The average monthly benefit for new state of Missouri retirees is just under $18,000 annually.  According to Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), “Since the 1980s we as a nation have begun to view retirement [plans] as a wealth creation vehicle and I think we need to get back to viewing it as retirement insurance.”

From Bloomberg: Illinois Credit Rating Lowered by S&P as Pension Costs Rise

Standard & Poor's downgraded Illinois's debt rating to A-, and “while it is unusual for a state rating to fall into the ‘BBB’ category, lack of action on pension reform and upcoming budget challenges could result in further credit deterioration, particularly if it translates into weaker liquidity,” says Robin Prunty, a New york based S&P analyst. The state of Illinois had planned to sell $500 million of general-obligation securities, but according to this article from the WSJ, Illinois Yanks Bond Amid Pension Woes, that move has been postponed.

From USA Today: Retirement Living: Debt Holds Many Boomers Back

A scary story from USA Today about recent research showing that the average Baby Boomer is nearly a half-million dollars short on retirement savings.

From PlanSponsor.com: 2013 the Year for Benefits Communication

According to Benz Communications, an HR and benefits communication strategy firm, there are three reasons 2013 will "prove a valuable year for benefits communication:"

  • Human Resource  strategy will require it

  • Employees will demand it

  • Executives will understand the need

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