Borrowing Against Life Insurance

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I was wondering if I could borrow against the principal on my life insurance.
The insurance provided in MOSERS’ plan is “term” life insurance. This means your insurance has no cash or loan value. Print Friendly and PDF

Insurance after Retirement

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Can I now get insurance through Mosers if I am retired and did not take it when I retired?
 If you terminated (or did not have any) optional life insurance coverage through MOSERS at retirement, it cannot be reinstated or added after retirement.

 If you are referring to health insurance, you must contact your health insurance provider. 
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Spring Cleaning: Budget for Summer

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March is a great time to reassess your financial standing and get ready for the upcoming year. You’ve likely recovered from the holidays and have begun planning for summer trips. This month, we’re covering three different topics:
  1. Clearing out Old Assumptions
  2. Budgeting for Summer
  3. Updating your Beneficiaries

Budgeting 101

Managing your monthly budget can be difficult and frustrating. One of the most important aspects of controlling your budget is to determine where your money is going. This calculator helps you do just that. By entering your income and monthly expenditures, you can see how much you have left to save and where your money is being spent.  MOSERS provides a helpful Home Budget Calculator [link] to get you started.

Budgeting for summer

Summer is just around the corner, which means you may be about to face three months of kids or grandkids saying, “I’m bored!”  Entertaining kids often means spending money, which puts your budget at risk. Here are a few ideas to keep you on track:
  1. Focus on free to nearly free activities

    From museums to crafting, there are cheap or free activities for kids to do all summer. AARP offers 
    10 Free (or Nearly Free) Activities for Kids. 
  2.  Stop using your credit cards for weekly purchases
    Consider taking out enough cash to last one week at a time (per your budget). Resolve not to use your credit or debit cards for your discretionary expenses. It’s a lot easier to turn down expenses when you can visually keep track of how much money you have immediately.
  3. What are your goals?
    Saving up for a summer vacation or sending your kids to a summer camp? Put up a photo of what you’re saving up to do! It’ll keep the goal at the forefront of your mind and remind you to save.  It also might inspire your kids to start their own summer jobs, such as grass cutting, so that they can have spending money on their vacation too.
  4. Remember to budget for the unexpected
    No one really likes to consider unexpected summer disasters – such as air conditioner failures or car accidents. Adding some extra padding in your savings will keep your financial goals from being derailed by the unexpected.
You’re on your way to a savings adventure with your summer plan in place and ways to remind yourself to save for what’s important to you!

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State Taxes and the Public Pension Exemption

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My questions is regarding clarification on how our retirement benefits are taxed. For Missouri, DOR states: Beginning in tax year 2007, you may deduct the greater of $6,000 or the percentage of your public retirement benefits noted below, to the extent the amounts are included in your federal adjusted gross income. The deductible percentage of your public retirement benefits will increase until 2012. It states 2012 limit @ 100%. The limitation is based on your filing status and income (less taxable social security benefits) as listed below:

$85,000 - Single, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er)
$100,000 - Married, filing combined
$85,000 – Married, filing separate

So, if my only income is my retirement benefits and that amount is obviously going to be under $85,000, will I have state taxes due? Thank you.
What you are referring to is the Public Pension Exemption. There was a recent article on this topic in the Winter issue of PensionsPlus. As you have found, more information is available on the Missouri Department of Revenue’s website: http://dor.mo.gov/personal/ptc/pension.php While we want to make members aware of tax provisions that may apply to them, MOSERS cannot advise on tax matters, so we suggest you discuss the specifics of your individual situation with a tax professional or the Missouri Department of Revenue.
To make your elections, you must complete a tax withholding form (Substitute W-4P) when applying for retirement benefits. You may complete this form online by logging into MOSERS’ website or by contacting a benefit counselor at (800) 827-1063. 
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Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 3/28

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While the age at which workers expect to retire has been slowly rising over time, that trend could be slowing, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

Since 2009, between 20 and 25 percent of workers have reported that the age at which they expect to retire increased in the last year. However, according to the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), only 15 percent of workers report an increase in their expected retirement age in the past year, compared with 22 percent in the 2013 RCS.

“How do they expect to retire on THAT?”

In the several days since the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey hit the streets, I think I’ve heard that question more than any other. “That” in this case is the widely cited finding of the survey that 36% of respondents have less than $1,000 (aside from home equity and defined benefit plan) saved – and that’s up from 20 percent in that category in 2009 and 28 percent a year ago.

So, how does that group expect to retire?

I typically associate the month of March with the taming of the winter just about now, when spring flowers begin to sprout, and we look forward to new beginnings. However, the month is also “Women’s History Month” – a time to celebrate women’s accomplishments in this country so that can appreciate and understand where women have made progress – and where we continue to lag, even in 2014.

Retirement is one area where women are still experiencing winter – not spring. And for millions of women their retirement years are not a pretty picture at all.

In Friday's commentary "Simplify Missouri’s teacher pension plans," the Kauffman Foundation suggests that our Missouri retirement's structure is a major cause for between 80 percent and 90 percent of educators leaving Kansas City and St. Louis schools within eight years.

As a retired educator, I can honestly say that the retirement benefits had little influence on my choosing teaching as a career. College graduates are eager to make a reasonable salary, have good insurance benefits and work in a good environment. After teaching a few years, the good work environment becomes even more important. A strong curriculum, availability of learning tools such as technology, parental involvement and support, and classrooms with an atmosphere conducive to learning make teaching a rewarding profession.

If you have a pension or expect to receive one in retirement, congratulations—you’re one of a dwindling number of Americans with access to these coveted retirement benefits.  (See this from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.) Now, a new analysis by consulting firm Towers Watson contains more good news for you: The financial health of defined benefit pension plans—which took a beating during the recession—is on the mend, which makes it more likely that your employer will deliver the promised benefits.


According to Towers Watson’s analysis of year-end corporate disclosures, the 100 largest pension plans saw their liabilities shrink 57%, from $295.5 billion at year-end 2012 to $125.9 billion in 2013. Overall, the “pension deficit” “hasn’t been this small since 2007,” according to Towers Watson
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HB 1682 proposed changes

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Rep Koenig's HB 1682 appears to also remove the temporary extra benefit from current state employees which will provide extra pay for 2 years from age 60 to age 62. This will negatively impact a multitude of employees planning for retirement soon. Please discuss this issue.
We have no way of knowing what might happen with individual bills during the current legislative session, but as always, we will monitor all legislation impacting MOSERS, and inform our members of any changes that become law. You can follow the status of all public retirement bills on the Joint Committee on Public Retirement’s website at www.jcper.org.

In its current format, HB 1682 would, if enacted, create a hybrid retirement plan for new employees hired for the first time on or after January 1, 2015.   (A hybrid plan is a defined benefit plan that also includes a defined contribution plan component).  As proposed, the legislation would not affect employees presently covered by the MSEP, the MSEP 2000 or the MSEP 2011.

Under the proposal, general employees hired on or after January 1, 2015, would participate in a new hybrid retirement plan with the following changes in provisions:

New Hybrid Plan For Future Hires Employed On or After January 1, 2015


Present Defined Benefit (DB)

Proposed Defined Benefit (DB)

Formula
  • 1.7% x service x final average pay (FAP)
  • 0.08% x service x FAP to Age 62 (for those retiring under Rule of 90)
Formula
  • 1.0% x service x final average pay (FAP)
  • 0.08% x service x FAP to age 62 (for those retiring under Rule of 90)
Vesting
  • 10 years
Vesting
  • 5 years
Normal Retirement Eligibility
  • Age 67 with 10 years of service or at least age 55 (Rule of 90)
Normal Retirement Eligibility
  • Age 67 with 5 years of service or at least age 55 (Rule of 90)
Early Retirement Eligibility
  • Age 62 with 10 years of service with reduction in base benefit
Early Retirement Eligibility
  • Age 62 with 5 years of service with reduction in base benefit
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
  • 80% of increase in Consumer Price Index (CPI) with annual maximum of 5%
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
  • 80% of increase in Consumer Price Index (CPI) with annual maximum of 2%
Employee Contribution
  • 4% of pay
Employee Contribution
  • 3% of pay

Present Defined Contribution Component (DC)

Proposed Defined Contribution Component (DC)

None

Employer Contribution – 3%
Employee Contribution – 1%
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MOSERS Funded Status

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Now can someone please reply so the average person who doesn't have an accounting degree can understand...? Should current retirees be concerned about losing our monthly pension?
MOSERS retirees have no need to be concerned about their pensions. MOSERS is a defined benefit plan. That means the benefit is defined by law and based on a formula that includes credited service and final average pay. Once members meet retirement eligibility and complete the retirement process, they receive a secure, lifetime benefit. The benefits provided to retirees are obligations of the State of Missouri. Money comes into the fund in two ways 1) Contributions by the employer (and employees in MSEP 2011), and 2) Investment earnings. Unlike some other states, the state of Missouri has consistently fully funded the amount determined by independent actuaries to be the contributions required to properly and responsibly fund the pension plan. Over the past 20 years, investment earnings have accounted for more than two-thirds of MOSERS revenues. This saves money for the state, but regardless of investment returns, your benefit is secure. Print Friendly and PDF

HB 1044 and HB 1882

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Does HB 1044 and HB 1882 have anything to do with our Mosers Retirement. I am already into my backdrop so this does interest me.
Thanks
The provisions contains in HB 1882 would not have any impact on your retirement benefits.  HB 1882 would, if enacted, change several administrative provisions affecting public plans in Missouri and would also amend certain provisions affecting the reporting requirements stipulated by the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement (JCPER).

The provisions proposed in HB 1044 do not affect MOSERS.  HB 1044 would affect the Missouri Local Government Employees’ Retirement System (LAGERS).
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Hybrid Retirement Legislation

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In the March 14 Keeping Up I noted the article in which Rep. Andrew Koenig wants lawmakers to approve a "hybrid" retirement system. Is there a bill on this proposal? If so, will it affect those already retired? What would be the effective date?
The bill you are referring to is HB 1682 that would establish a hybrid plan for members hired for the first time on or after 1/01/15. As it is currently stated, this bill would not affect existing retirees. We have no way of knowing what might happen with individual bills during the current legislative session, but as always, we will monitor all legislation impacting MOSERS, and inform our members of any changes that become law. You can follow the status of all public retirement bills on the Joint Committee on Public Retirement’s website at www.jcper.org.
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Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 3/21/14

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How much do you have put away for retirement?

A million dollars? Five hundred thousand? Five hundred dollars?

If you're like a third of Americans, the final answer is closer to the truth.

About 36 percent of workers have less than a thousand dollars in savings and investments that could be used for retirement, not counting their home or defined benefit plans such as traditional pensions (increasingly rare).

A stable and durable public pension system, efficiently managed and funded, is important to employees, employers, the state, and the economy. In Iowa and most states, public-sector pension systems remain strong and healthy.

For that reason, Iowans should not be distracted by the scare tactics or false choices presented by Deborah Thornton’s recent guest column in the Press-Citizen (“Pension reform in Utah could be model for Iowa,” March 9).

Her race-to-the-bottom argument presupposes a need to overhaul Iowa’s pension systems, a position that ignores the fundamental stability of those systems — particularly IPERS. And her “solution” for Iowa would make pensions risky, rather than the dependable, secure financial plan that retirees need.

In the good old days, there were Defined Benefit [DB] plans for pensions, and only those.  Why were those good?
  • • The sponsor took care of the investing
  • • Participants received a level, or inflation-adjusted payment.
  • • Payments offered longevity insurance — you could not outlive them.
Then, by accident, the 401(k) plan, and other defined contribution [DC] plans came into existence.  Employees could invest their money pretax, and make money during the bull markets of the ’80s and ’90s.  Many companies terminated their DB plans, and replaced them with DC plans, cash balance plans, etc.

The Chancellor’s announcement of a significant relaxation of pension rules for defined contribution schemes could also be of enormous benefit to sponsors of defined benefit (DB) schemes. The Treasury is now consulting on the extent to which these changes should extend to defined benefit pension schemes.

John Broome Saunders, Actuarial Director at Broadstone, believes DB scheme sponsors should be fighting hard to benefit from these changes,
 “If DB schemes can benefit from these changes, they will be able to offer more flexible options that pay out more cash, sooner, to pensioners. That has enormous benefits for scheme sponsors, especially those with crippling legacy pension liabilities, as it allows these liabilities to be settled sooner, and reduces – possibly significantly - the longer-term mortality and investment risks attached to pure pension provision.”
KIRKSVILLE, MO. -- One Heartland group is continuing to make sure education is a priority.

The Kirksville group of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association meets about four times a year.

The group's made up of former teachers and administrators from school districts all over northeast Missouri.

Members are the watchguards for the retirement system in the state to those who dedicated their lives to education.


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Avoiding the worst

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The investment community has pushed the stock market to historic highs. I read the blog that our retirement is secure. When (not if) the bubble bursts and markets drop to half their value, and the dollar to historic lows, what provision is there for public employees to receive an income? or if the dollar is devalued? The USA cannot keep borrowing to fund the present lifestyle. Cuts would be drastic and interest would rise to afford paying the debt. What happens to fixed income? I may not live to see the worst, but the coming generations will. Is there anything we need to avoid the worst?
Note: Due to the nature of this question, we took it to our chief investment officer and below is his response.

You portend two, potentially separate scenarios. A stock market crash and/or a US Dollar crash.  If we were to see a stock market crash only, it is likely that assets would flow from stocks to perceived safe haven assets like US Treasuries and gold.  If we were to see a stock market crash fueled by a US Dollar crash it likely means investors have lost faith in the US government to make good on its IOUs.  In this scenario, assets would flow from both stocks and US Treasuries into non-dollar denominated assets and gold.

You are probably starting to pick up on a common theme as to where one should concentrate their money if they were convinced that one of your two scenarios would play out.  There is just one problem, investing $8.4 billion in gold generates no income to pay current retirees like yourself.  While a gold investment has the potential to protect principal should one or both of your scenarios play out, we are simply not in a position to manage the portfolio as if we know what the future holds.  Our number one investment belief is that diversification is critical because the future is unknown.  This philosophy has guided our thinking for nearly twenty years and has allowed us to generate annualized returns of over 8.5%. Over the last few years we have been taking steps to diversify the portfolio well beyond what most institutional investors consider to be mainstream.  That has resulted in less exposure to stocks and larger exposure to commodities (including gold) and other assets expected to perform well should inflation expectations and actual inflation start to rise, like inflation indexed bonds. 

With that said, the unwinding of high debt levels is generally deflationary, not inflationary.  There are two ways debt levels come down.  Either the debtor pays it off or the creditor writes it off.  If the debtor pays it off, he will spend less of his income on other things.  Because he is spending less, there will be deflationary pressure on the goods and services he would have otherwise purchased.  Because one person’s debt is another person’s asset, if he is unable pay it off, it will mean the value of the asset declines, thus the asset deflates in value.  Because debt levels have peaked and have started to come down, this deflationary pressure is a very powerful force on the economy.  It is quite possible that all the monetary and fiscal stimulus provided by our Federal Reserve and our government (which many are now arguing must ultimately result in inflation) will not be enough to offset this deflationary force.  The bottom line is we simply don’t know, so having assets which have historically performed well in a deflationary environment, like long maturity US Treasuries, is also an important part of our diversification strategy.

I hope this has given you a feel for how we go about managing the assets of the retirement system and allows you some comfort when we tell you, “Your retirement income is secure.”

Rick Dahl,
Chief Investment Officer
MOSERS
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Real Retirements: Hazel Bledsoe

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Hazel Bledsoe, Data Integrity Specialist, has announced she will be retiring on April 1st after her 40-year career at MOSERS. That’s right—40 years! She will be greatly missed by staff and others. For example, recently a member sent an email to us complimenting her:
 “I wanted to pass along a complement to one of the staff - Hazel. She assisted me this morning with resetting my password and was a delight to work with. She was very patient and continued encouraging me until I completed the process. Her enthusiasm and dedication should be applauded. I appreciated her kind service today and wanted management to know what a great employee Hazel is. Thanks, Hazel!” 
Hazel has worked at MOSERS with so many different people and has seen numerous changes over the years. She started on March 25, 1974 and has worked in the mailroom, the front desk, the file room, the accounting department (she transferred monthly by hand all stock and bond information), the computer room (she helped load punch cards monthly for state payrolls and she helped run retirement checks on the printer, then stuff them and put postage on them), the medical plan (which MOSERS administered prior to 1993 when the Missouri Consolidated Heath Care Plan took over), and the records department to maintain members’ records “from date of employment to death and all parts in between.” Hazel says, “I have also worked animal control when we had Ed the turkey.” (Note: Ed the turkey lived in the woods behind MOSERS’ building and occasionally antagonized staff.)

The most significant changes she has seen include Gary Findlay becoming executive director, the appearance of the computer, and “our wonderful IT staff (all of which have made our jobs so much easier).” She says she will really miss the people she has worked with at MOSERS who are like a second family to her. Hazel thought the MOSERS online retirement process was very easy.

 Hazel’s plans for retirement include: “Irritating my husband since we have never spent 24/7 together; going to visit the kids in whatever state they may be in; lots of fishing; gambling trips; sleeping in until I want to get up, not when the alarm says I have to get up; reading more books; watching more television; trying more recipes; and, if that doesn’t keep me busy, I might pick up a part-time job somewhere.”

 The advice she gives to future retirees is “Pay off as many bills as possible and SAVE, SAVE, SAVE before you retire.” She says it’s time to move on to another chapter in her life—“Hopefully lots of chapters to go before the book is complete.”

Thanks, Hazel and best of luck to you in retirement! Print Friendly and PDF

Spring Cleaning: Clear out Old Assumptions

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March is a great time to reassess your financial standing and get ready for the upcoming year. You’ve likely recovered from the holidays and have begun planning for summer trips. This month, we’re covering three different topics:
  1. Clearing out Old Assumptions
  2. Budgeting for Summer
  3. Updating your Beneficiaries

What are your assumptions?

You probably have a few assumptions that guide your financial planning, such as how much money you can save, what your income will look like, and what you’ll pay out to send your kids to college. It’s convenient to reexamine your assumptions during tax season, since you have all your receipts and tax documents on hand.
Along with creating a budget to help chart where your money comes from and where it goes, you may also want to ask yourself some questions:
  1. What does my debt look like?
    Without a clear perspective on your debt, you won’t make the most efficient game plan. You may be able to save substantial sums by paying a bit more each month and lowering the amount of interest you pay over the long term. MOSERS offers a number of links to help calculate and manage your debt.
  2. How much will I need when I retire?
    No matter your age, one thing is certain – you’re not getting any younger. Retirement savings are accumulated over your lifetime, so it’s best to take control of your savings sooner rather than later. Learn more about how much your retirement will cost in our article, Putting the Pieces Together Part 1.
  3. Is my emergency fund big enough?
    A number of life events can set you back financially. You can offset the impact of such events by putting savings in an emergency fund. Some experts recommend that you keep three to six months of income saved. If that seems unrealistic, start smaller, but start! Your budget will help guide you regarding what you may have to pay every month regardless of income. Include your living expenses, mortgage or rent, seasonal expenses, and whether you have multiple streams of income.
  4. What are my financial goals?
    No game plan is finished without knowing where you’re headed. What are your most important financial goals and when do you want to achieve them? If you find that you’re only halfheartedly saving or impulsively spending, it may be helpful to prioritize your goals to give you a finish line.
Of course, this isn’t the end of the questions you can ask yourself, but it’s a good start. If you’d like more information, MOSERS offers free on-site Money Matters workshops. Ask the human resources staff at your agency to schedule a workshop for later this year. We also provide the Money Matters workbooks on our website. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 3/14/14

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From PensionDialog: Women, Savings and Retirement
The U.S. Government Accountability Office report, “Trends in Marriage, Work, and Pensions May Increase Vulnerability for Some Retirees,” offers sobering data on the transition away from defined benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans:
The shift away from DB to DC plans has increased financial vulnerabilities for some due to the fact that DC plans typically offer fewer spousal protections. DC plans also place greater responsibility on households to make decisions and manage their pension and financial assets so they have income throughout retirement. As shown in the figure below, despite Social Security’s role in reducing poverty among seniors, poverty remains high among certain groups of seniors, such as minorities and unmarried women. These vulnerable populations are more likely to be adversely affected by these trends and may need assistance in old age.
This is not surprising information, or even new revelations, but it makes a video released this week by SEIU even more poignant.

From St. Louis Post Dispatch: Feeling frisky about stocks? Remember 2009
The mood of investors is changing, and it shows up in the questions that Rick Berg hears from his clients at Wells Fargo Advisors in Chesterfield.

“Rick,” one asked, “why did I only make 20 percent last year?”

There’s always a tug of war between fear and greed in the mind of most investors. Lately, greed is gaining.

Investors last year began pouring back into stock mutual funds, after four years of running the other way.

Expectations are up. But if a 20 percent gain won’t make an investor happy today, it’s time to remember what fear feels like.

Let’s take a refresher in the lessons of the Great Crash.

If Cincinnati finally solves its thorniest financial problem – its employee pension fund – it will be because of the collision of a good idea, willing "adversaries" and deadline pressure.

Mayor John Cranley on Tuesday proposed asking the federal courts to oversee a consent decree to stabilize employees' retirement and health benefits without putting the city at financial risk. The city manager would be authorized to enter binding negotiations with current employees and retirees that would result in reduced benefits but also a mandated city contribution.

The shift away from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans has affected the types of retirement benefits available to most households, but has negatively impacted women the most, particularly those who are not married, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

Since the 1960s, the percentage of unmarried, single-parent families has risen dramatically, especially among low-income, less-educated individuals and some minorities, the report found. At the same time, the number of women in the labor force has increased. Both of these events have affected the types of Social Security benefits households receive, with fewer women receiving spousal benefits today than in the past.
The shift from DB to DC also has increased financial vulnerabilities for some of these same groups because DC plans offer fewer spousal protections.
JEFFERSON CITY  Former state Sen. Jane Cunningham has been at odds with union firefighters since she won a seat on the Monarch Fire Protection District board a year ago.

Now, a Missouri House member with union ties is trying to take away the $16,269-a-year state pension that Cunningham receives for her 12 years in the Legislature.

A one-sentence bill filed by Rep. Keith English would bar all fire protection district directors from receiving public pension benefits. English, a union electrician and a Democrat from Florissant, filed the bill Feb. 12.
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LTD Benefits Timeline

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How long before you receive benefits if you become disabled?
Your long-term disability (LTD) benefit payments will begin at the end of the benefit waiting period—90 days after your last day on the job or when your sick leave benefits expire, whichever is later. LTD benefits will be issued on the first day of the month after your approval date. We suggest you talk with a MOSERS benefit counselor and contact your employer to get details about how these provisions are administered in your agency.

Note: Conservation and College & University employees (except Lincoln University and State Technical College of Missouri) – Some of your benefits (such as long-term disability) are provided by your employer rather than by MOSERS. Contact your employer for details of your plan. Print Friendly and PDF

Early Retirement Incentives for 2014

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Do you know of anything regarding an early retirement incentive for 2014?
We are not aware of any proposed legislation for an early retirement incentive during this session. MOSERS will monitor any legislation that may impact our members and keep you informed. You may also track all retirement legislation for public employee retirement plans at the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement website's Retirement Legislation Status Report. Print Friendly and PDF

COLA & BackDROP

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I heard from a co-worker who is retiring at the end of this month, that she had lost $15,000 of her backdrop money due to the COLA rate changing from 6.3 to 1.7%. Just asking if this would affect our backdrop money and why? She said there was a blog out on the site that said the COLA rate dropped, but how does that affect your backdrop?
Just to clarify, the 2013 COLA was 1.655% and the 2014 COLA is 1.172%. You can see a history of annual COLA rates on MOSERS’ website. As we explained in this recent Rumor Central question, one reason a BackDROP amount could decrease over time is if the COLA rate is lower the year you retire than the year before. Your question will be forwarded to a benefit counselor, who can give you more information about your particular situation. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related news for 3/7/14

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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.

For many reasons, women may be at a greater risk than men of not achieving a secure retirement.

“The key thing is women have made so much progress in the workforce and their careers, but their retirement outlook is still not catching up,” Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies in Los Angeles, tells PLANSPONSOR. “Only 7% of women are ‘very confident’ in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle. We can do better than that.”

Swelling investment returns improved funding for U.S. public pensions last year, but almost all retirement systems are still in weak shape and unable to cover their liabilities fully, according to a report released by Wilshire Consulting on Tuesday.

In the annual study provided to Reuters, Wilshire estimated 134 state retirement systems had enough assets to cover 75 percent of their obligations in the year ended June 30, 2013, up from 72 percent in 2012. Still, 96 percent of those plans were considered underfunded, with an average ratio of 70 percent.

The assiduous billionaire-tracker David Sirota, who last exposed the connections between billionaire John Arnold and a suspiciously one-sided series on public pension reform that ran on Public Broadcasting Service stations, is at it again.

Now he's uncovered Arnold's backing of a largely pro-"reform" report on public pensions issued by the Brookings Institution.

The paper, titled "Pension Politics," analyzes the political efforts aimed at cutting public employee pensions in four states. Its author is Patrick McGuinn, a political scientist at Drew University in New Jersey, one of the states examined.

Remember how everyone sensible knew the housing market was in a bubble 10 years ago but nobody really focused on what that would mean? I wonder today if we are in a similar situation regarding retirement.

Everybody sensible knows we are facing a looming retirement crisis. Tens of millions of baby boomers are starting to retire. They are going to live in old age far longer than previous generations. Tomorrow’s grandma is going to need medical care and nursing care beyond the imagination of grandmothers of yore. Yet so few people or families have saved anywhere near enough. And our public safety net is poorly managed, ill-thought-out, and threadbare.

Words shape our understanding. The inclusion or omission of a word, or even punctuation, can change understanding. Just consider this reminder of the important role commas play in everyday life:

So, too, the inclusion or omission of numbers, and the use of different calculations, present completely different views (something we have discussed before including here and here).
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Is Salvation Army service eligible for service credit?

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Can time worked for Salvation Army count towards military service since they are considered a real army? 
No. There is no provision in the law that allows you to get MOSERS retirement service credit for Salvation Army service. There are two ways to acquire military service: automatically or by purchase.

To qualify for automatic credit of active-duty military service performed after December 3, 1974, you must have been employed by the state immediately prior to entering the armed forces and meet the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

 Members of the MSEP and the MSEP 2000 may purchase up to four years of prior active-duty military service in an eligible branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or reserve component (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard).

For more information about automatic, transfer, or purchase of military or other public service, MSEP 2011 members may consult the MSEP 2011 Acquiring Service Credit brochure. All other members may consult the MSEP | MSEP 2000 Acquiring Service Credit brochure. Print Friendly and PDF