Investment Education

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You are doing very well with your investments. Is there some way I can determine how you do this so that I may be able to take advantage of your expertise?
Thank you for the kind words! We’re proud of our investment team. You may find it helpful to read the details about the MOSERS Investment Portfolio (MIP) Fund. The MIP is available to active and retired members who have a State of Missouri Deferred Compensation account. This account cannot be established after retirement.

You may also find it helpful to review the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan’s Educational Resources. You can watch the Education on Demand videos or read through the Investing sections to build on your knowledge.

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Using Annual Leave to Pay Healthcare Premiums

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Can unused Annual leave be used to pay medical insurance until used up?
We reached out to MCHCP to answer your question.

Yes, your unused annual leave can be used to pay your medical insurance premiums during the remainder of the year in which you retire. When you fill out your MCHCP Retiree Enrollment Form, you may elect to deduct your premiums out of your one-time lump-sum vacation pay. Depending on how many hours of annual leave you have, this can be a sizeable amount and can result in tax savings!

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

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

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Legislator vs. General Employee Pay Increases

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I'm really interested in getting some historical context on Missouri State Employee pay and retirement, in relation to the Legislature. I know Legislators get frequent pay raises because they tied their pay to judges, and I know they have a sweet deal on retirement, but could you provide a side-by-side comparison as to how much average state worker pay has gone up since 2000 vs Legislator pay in the same period? Could you provide a similar comparison to how much Legislators get compared to average state workers and how they qualify (i.e., how much work for how many years, and what benefit it generates)? Thanks.
We consulted the Office of Administration for state employee pay information and created this table to answer your question:
Comparison of Salary Increases
Fiscal Year
Legislators’ Salary
State Employees’ Salary*
July 2000
$30,536
$50/month increase and a one-step increase; 1/2001: $35/month increase
July 2001
$31,246
No increase
July 2002
$31,351
No increase
July 2003
No increase
$600/year increase for employees making less than $40,000 per year
July 2004
No increase
$1,200/year increase
July 2005
No increase
No increase
July 2006
No increase
4% increase
July 2007
No increase
3% increase
July 2008
No increase
3% increase
July 2009
$35,915
No increase
July 2010
No increase
No increase
July 2011
No increase
No increase
July 2012
No increase
2% increase for employees making less than $70,000 per year
July 2013
No increase
No increase
January 2014
No increase
1/2014: -$500/year increase
*Note: this table only includes general increases for state employees.  This information does not include job class-specific increases that have been approved during that time or discretionary increases that agencies may have given to employees during this time period.  Some examples of discretionary increases include merit increases, equity increases, additional duty increases, etc.  The information also does not include things like end of probation increases.

Legislator’s salaries are not tied to the pay of judges.  You can view the 2001-2014 Schedules of Compensation for judges of the Missouri Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Circuit Courts on the Missouri General Assembly’s website in Appendix D.

As for retirement, you can view comparison charts of general employees’ and legislators’ retirement benefits on MOSERS’ website. It is important to note that a side-by-side comparison of the two groups is difficult, because legislators have term limits, and thus their vesting requirements, base benefit formula and some other provisions must be different. Legislators also are not eligible for the BackDROP.

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Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/25/14

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From American Academy of Actuaries: The 80% Pension Funding Myth

The health of defined-benefit pension plans is a key issue to the tens of millions of Americans who are receiving or expecting to collect pension benefits. Some have said that the level of funding – specifically an 80% funded level – should be used as a general benchmark to determine whether pension plans are financially healthy. In reality, however, no single level of funding distinguishes a healthy plan from an unhealthy plan. In fact, plans should have as their objective accumulating assets equal to 100% of relevant pension obligations.

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 2008 financial crisis prompted many state and local governments to make changes to their defined benefit pensions, most often raising employee and employer contributions and reducing benefits for new employees.

A new issue brief from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, Defined Contribution Plans in the Public Sector: An Update, finds that while there has been much discussion of shifting from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, relatively few governments have actually done so.

TALLAHASSEE — Few issues would seem to score higher among conservatives than public pension reform.

Shrinking the defined benefits that public employees receive and steering them into private retirement plans has long been championed by groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the James Madison Institute and Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire libertarians David and Charles Koch.

But as Tuesday's Florida Senate Appropriations Committee meeting showed, pension reform is hardly a conservative litmus test. A bill that would make significant changes to the state's $135 billion pension system barely survived by a narrow 10-8 vote, with three Republicans joining Democrats in opposition

From Pension Dialogue: Finding Common Ground

In a week of yet more questionable research, dire predictions, and differing agendas, one analysis focused on what is particularly important: improving pension funding discipline.

As we’ve said before, employees always pay their full required contribution. Likewise, it is vital that municipalities make what actuaries say is needed to meet annual obligations, known as the ARC.

From Oklahoma Gazette: Retirement Quandary

Oklahoma’s Senate is considering a defined-contribution pension for future state employees after the proposal passed in the House of Representatives last month.

If signed into law, new employees hired from Nov. 1, 2015 within the Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) will use the contribution plan, basically a 401(k). Employees working before this date will continue on the existing defined benefit pension.

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MOSERS and Social Security

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MOSERS has received two similar questions. Below is our answer to both of them.
I was told that some Missouri State employees cannot get social security when they retire and are 62. Is this true now or was it true in the past?
My brother, who is not a state employee said he has heard that state general employees who receive a pension from the state only receive 1/2 of their social security benefit. Is there any truth to this?
No, that information is not correct. Receiving a MOSERS retirement benefit does not prevent you from receiving full social security retirement benefits. You can check your paystub to see payroll deductions for social security (“OASIE”) and Medicare (“MEDIE”). If you check your benefits at https://ess.mo.gov you can hover over each deduction for more information.

Some public sector employees are not covered by social security, including certificated public school employees in the Missouri Public School Retirement System (PSRS). Since those employees do not contribute to social security on their PSRS-covered earnings they are not eligible for those federal benefits.  The information you received may have been referring to teachers or another group that is not covered by social security. 

With regard to the part of your question about getting social security benefits at age 62, any eligible worker may choose a permanently reduced social security benefit as early as age 62. Or they may decide to wait until their full retirement age to receive their full benefit. This will occur sometime between the age of 65 and 67, depending on the year of their birth. The full retirement age for those born in 1960 or later is age 67.  We recommend that you contact the Social Security Administration at (800)772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov for more information and details regarding your particular situation including your personal Social Security Statement.

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Retirement Incentives in the 2014 Legislative Session

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Are you aware of any pending retirement incentives that have not yet been introduced into the legislature, but are still planned to be introduced before the current session adjourns? There are strong rumors that incentives are being considered to entice employees who currently do not contribute to the MOSERS fund, to retire early and make way for hiring new employees who would contribute to MOSERS. Thank you.
We are not aware of any retirement incentives being discussed, but we will continue to monitor all legislation impacting MOSERS and keep our members informed. 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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MOSERS and the Heartbleed vulnerability

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I just checked MOSERS.ORG website that evaluates a sites vulnerability to the Heartbleed computer virus. You received an F score meaning your site is vulnerable. I'm concerned about exposure of my personal information that you guys have. What are you doing to protect our personal information?
Thank you for sending us the name of the site you used to test our vulnerability to a Heartbleed attack. That is one of several tools we used to test our servers for the Heartbleed vulnerability. Despite the grade, the detailed information from Qualys SSL Labs confirms thatwww.mosers.org is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed attack. Until now, we have allowed an older protocol (SSL 2) on the MOSERS public site (www.mosers.org to accommodate users with older browsers. This was the primary reason the server received an “F” from Qualys. We allowed that older protocol because www.mosers.org only contains public information that we would freely share with anyone. Anytime you log into our secure site, you’re actually logging into a different server that is very secure.

After receiving your email, we realized that this may also be confusing to other members, so a decision was made to disable the older protocol on that server as well. If you run the Qualys test again, you’ll notice that the score is significantly improved and it still indicates that the server is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed attack.

Regarding your password, it is not necessary to change it due to this specific threat, because none of our servers were ever vulnerable. However, it is always a good practice to change your passwords frequently and make sure you select a strong password each time. Here are some other password tips:
  • Don’t let applications remember your password.
  • Don’t share your password with anyone.
  • Don’t use names or dictionary words.
  • Don’t construct a password out of personal details that are easy to obtain.
  • Use a mixture of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols.
  • Try to make it easy to remember, but difficult to guess.
  • Don’t use personal information that you’ve shared publicly.
I hope you find this information helpful.
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MOSERS Retirement Fund

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My daughter heard on the radio that Missouri retirement fund is over 11 billion in the hole. Is this true?
We are unfamiliar with the report you reference but often reports like this may lump together the four largest public pension plans or all 130 public pension plans in the state and may include the unfunded liability for retiree healthcare which is something that is completely separate from MOSERS.  If you can direct us to the report we would be happy to address it specifically as it relates to MOSERS.

It is important for you to know that MOSERS is financially sound and the defined benefit pension plans are sustainable as illustrated by the facts below:
  • The state of Missouri has consistently funded 100% of the annually required contribution (ARC) as determined by the system’s independent actuary and the employer contributions to MOSERS account for 1.13% of the state budget.
  • MOSERS has a solid 56-year track record of responsibility, reliability and reputation with excellent investment returns, outstanding customer service and efficient administration.
  • Over the past 20 years, investment earnings have accounted for more than two-thirds of MOSERS’ revenues.
  • As of June 30, 2013, MOSERS’ funded ratio is 72.7%  and the MOSERS trust fund has $8.1 billion in assets.
We hope you find this information helpful. 
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Financial Literacy: Your Credit

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Last week, we covered how to access your credit report. Today, topics include what errors you will want to look for, how to clean up your credit report, and how to opt-out of credit offers.

What am I looking for?

  1. Personal info that’s wrong. On a credit report, everything matters. Check your name, address, and other information. Even a slight difference may mean that your financial situation may be mixed up with someone of a slightly different name! If you notice a different address, it might mean that someone’s been using your credit, but may have routed bills to their address.
  2. Public records inaccuracies. Aside from your personal information, credit reports also include any judgments, bankruptcies, and liens you may have against you. Different types of public records stay on your report for different amounts of time. For example, a chapter 7 bankruptcy should only stay on your credit report for 10 years. If you see something that you think should be gone, you should try and get it removed because it may be negatively impacting your credit.
  3. Unfamiliar accounts or activities. In the accounts section, you’ll see your credit accounts, the date you opened each account, the balance and your credit limit. If you come across an account you don’t recognize or you thought should be closed, take note! Someone may be using your credit without your knowledge. Additionally, look for things such as incorrect late payments or charge-off declarations where the creditor declares that an amount of debt is unlikely to be collected.
  4. Too many/lingering inquiries. Whenever you open a new credit account or allow an insurance company or prospective employer to check your credit history, it will show up as an inquiry on your report. You may be denied additional credit if you have too many inquiries open. Be sure to request that anything over two years be removed!

Clean up your report

If you’ve found an error, you’ll want to know your rights. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is your most effective weapon. The FCRA protects you by legally requiring credit bureaus to provide correct and complete information to companies requesting credit histories.

Follow these steps:
  1. Write the credit reporting agency disputing the error and include any supporting documents. The Federal Trade Commission has a sample dispute letter on its website. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you send them for your files!
  2. When the agency receives your letter disputing the item, they are required to investigate the item in dispute (usually within 30 days) by providing the information to the creditor.
  3. Legally, the creditor must review the evidence and report the findings to the credit reporting agency.
  4. The credit reporting agency is required to provide you a written report of the investigation and a copy of your report if the findings result in a change.
Additionally, you may fill out an online dispute form provided by the credit bureaus. Here are the websites for the three major credit reporting agencies:
  1. Equifax
  2. Experian
  3. TransUnion
If you are not satisfied with the results of your credit report dispute, you may also contact the creditor to dispute the incorrect entry.  Contact the creditor in writing and dispute the entry. After receiving your letter, the creditor may not report the information without also sending notice of your dispute. Finally, the creditor may not legally continue to report the information if it’s in error and has been notified in writing.

Cut down on extra credit offers

Tired of your mailbox being crammed with unsolicited mail, including preapproved credit card applications? Good news! You have options to opt out for five years or permanently.

To opt out for five years:  Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. Both the phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting agencies.

To opt out permanently: Visit www.optoutprescreen.com. To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.

For either option, you’ll be asked to provide certain personal information, such as your home telephone number, name, social security number, and the date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will only be used to process your opt-out request.

If you don’t have access to the Internet, you may send a written request to each of the major credit reporting agencies. Make sure your request includes your home telephone number, name, social security number, and your date of birth.

Experian
Opt Out
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Equifax, Inc.
Options
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374

Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230

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Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/18/14

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Working a few years past full retirement age can make the difference between living in relative comfort during retirement and scrimping to pay the bills. Some employers are eager to hang on to employees with senior-level skills and experience. Plus, benefits pegged to your salary will be all the sweeter if you continue working during your peak earning years.

Drew Spalding, 68, has spent almost his entire career with the U.S. Government Printing Office, where he's been general counsel since 2011. He says he sticks around "mostly because I like it." But he has at least one other incentive: As a long-time federal employee, he qualifies for a pension based on years of service as well as his top three years of earnings -- and this year, federal employees got a modest raise.

The last of the baby boomer generation will be turning 50 this year, and it's time for them to get a fix on how they are going to prepare for retirement.

Fortunately, there are valuable lessons, financial and otherwise, to be learned from those who have already reached their later years.

DETROIT — The City of Detroit reached a deal Tuesday with a retired police and firefighters group to preserve current pensions, according to mediators.

The deal, which Detroit bankruptcy mediator Gerald Rosen revealed, comes as the city also is close to reaching an agreement with its Official Committee of Retirees and two independently run pension fund boards.

From U.S. News: The Retirement Reality Gap

The new post-Great Recession economy has taken its toll on retirees, as well as those of us looking forward to retirement in the near future. Unfortunately, there’s something of a reality gap between what today's workers think about retirement and what actually happens in retirement. Here's a look at the perceptions and the realities.

Southeast Missouri, particularly the Cape Girardeau/Jackson area, has been lauded multiple times as a great place to settle down with a low cost of living.

Most recently, in 2013, the Wall Street Cheat Sheet ranked the Cape Girardeau/Jackson area No. 5 on its list of least expensive places to live in America, citing cost of living, home costs and property taxes as well below the national averages. And in 2009, CNN's Money magazine named Cape Girardeau one of the 25 best places to retire thanks to its position as a hub for health care, education, entertainment and commerce.

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Upcoming Bills

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Any bills out there that would affect MOSERS retirement in the next couple of years?
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. We have previously addressed questions about specific bills on Rumor Central that you can read here. 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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Social Security and MOSERS pension

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I retired under the 80 and out provisions. When I turn 62 the temp. portion of my benefit will stop and I'll file for early Social Security benefits. My question is: Will my base benefit amount from MOSERS count toward wages I am allowed to earn under Social Security without being penalized?
Your MOSERS benefit is a public pension, and therefore is not considered a salary or wage. It does not count towards the annual earnings limit for social security. For more information, the Social Security Administration website is www.ssa.gov or call them toll-free at (800) 772-1213.

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Rumor Central Email Updates

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If I'm signed up for Rumor Central, will I be able to continue to receive it after I retire?
Yes, if you are signed up to receive Rumor Central email notifications, you will still receive them after retirement. To check if you are signed up, log in to your secure Member Homepage on MOSERS’ website. Under Personal Information on the top menu, click on Email Options. If there is a checkmark by Rumor Central, you are subscribed. If your email address changes after you retire, please let us know by going to Update Personal Information under the same Personal Information menu option.

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Financial Literacy 101

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If you hadn’t heard, April is Financial Literacy Month! In the spirit of education, MOSERS will cover a few financial tools to help you get started on your journey to money management. This post will cover your financial assessment, how long to keep your receipts, and how to obtain your credit report for free.

Later, we’ll cover possible financial guidance resources, checkups, how to opt-out of credit card offers and more.

First, let’s start with a quick financial assessment.

As a rule, do you: 

  1. Pay the rent/mortgage payment and utility bills on time?
  2. Save at least 10% of your income after taxes?
  3. Keep 3 months’ income in reserve for emergencies?
  4. Plan ahead for large expenses?
  5. Set and keep financial goals?
  6. Follow a budget?
  7. Comparison shop?
  8. Regularly review your credit report?
  9. Examine your checking account statements?
  10. Continue your financial education?
Scoring:
Add your points. Never = 0 points, Sometimes = 1 point, Always =2 points.

0-10 Points: You may need to take more control over your finances! Don’t worry, you may benefit from a Money Matters seminar [link] and the upcoming posts.

11-15 Points: You’re making a good effort to manage your money effectively! Upcoming financial literacy posts will help build your arsenal.

16-20 Points: You’re a financial rock star! Keep making great financial choices a priority.

What can you do right now?

Even if you scored low, don’t panic! There are steps you can take today to help you get started.
  1. Clear out the financial clutter:*
    1. Grocery receipts and other nondeductible expense receipts and statements can be destroyed after they have been recorded for budgeting purposes.
    2. Paycheck stubs should be checked against your W-2. If it’s a match, you can toss them. If not, request a revised W-2, called a W-2c.
    3. Canceled checks should generally be saved for three years. Keep those related to your taxes and business expenses permanently.
    4. Utility bill stubs may be destroyed after recording, however, you may wish to hold onto these for a year to compare monthly costs.
    5. Household documents pertaining to buying, selling or improving your home should be kept as long as you own the home.
    6. Receipts from major purchases should be kept as long as you have the item.
    7. Credit card receipts can be destroyed once you have reconciled with your monthly statement.  Additionally, credit card monthly statements can be destroyed on an annual basis.
    8. Individual tax return documents should be kept for seven years, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors. However, the IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more.
  2. Know your credit score:
    • Your credit report can provide a snapshot of your overall financial situation. Reviewing your credit score regularly will also help identify errors and catch fraudulent activity.

      Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – at your request once every 12 months.

      There is only one company to request your free report from: visit AnnualCreditReport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-528.

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Public or Private Pension?

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Is the retirement benefit I receive from MOSERS a private or public pension? Is MOSERS considered a private source or a public source?
MOSERS is a public pension. If your question is in reference to how your benefit is taxed, we have some information in our current issue of RetireeNews. For specific information on your personal taxes, we recommend you contact the Missouri Department of Revenue. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/11/14

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From BenefitsPro: Enriching corporations by stealing from public pensions

Those of us in the public pension world know that the vast majority of plans are on solid financial ground – and that the few that aren’t are in jurisdictions whose legislatures have consistently failed to make some or all of the actuarially required contributions to those plans, even in boom economic times.

In the wake of the Great Recession, state and local politicians seeking to convert public DB plans to DC plans and/or cut plan benefits claim their jurisdictions simply do not have the resources to make the necessary pension payments. They claim that without the changes they want, core government services will suffer. They claim that pension costs are bankrupting their communities.

The rhetoric has been as impressive as it is deceitful. There’s money there to fund public pensions. It just isn’t going to public pensions – it’s going to wealthy corporations.


From The Sacramento Bee: CalPERS says retiree benefits generate $30 billion in economic activity

The economic ripple of benefits paid to CalPERS’ retirees and their family members generated tens of billions of dollars in economic activity in fiscal 2011-12, the fund reported Tuesday, while CalPERS’ investments poured billions more into the state.

Pension spending generated about $30.4 billion of goods and services consumption for the year, CalPERS figures, compared with $2.8 billion that employers contributed to their employees’ pension accounts. That works out to a ratio of $10.85 of economic activity per $1 of taxpayer spending on pensions. (The figure doesn’t factor in what employees contribute to their pensions.)

From BenefitsPro: More studies show public pension plans getting stronger

It’s something that NCPERS has been reporting for several years now, in the results of its annual survey of public pension plans. And as you might expect, it’s been an uphill struggle to get the good news out when political figures high and low have been employing media-grabbing rhetoric to demonize public pensions as the root of state and local economic ills since the Great Recession blindsided all of us in 2008.

Three new studies are proving our point: while, like all institutional investors, public pension plans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they have experienced a robust recovery due to increasing market returns and operational reforms.

From Business Week: Missouri Treasurer Says 8% Return Not Realistic: Five Questions

Being the first in his family to go to college has guided Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s approach to public service.

The son of a carpenter and a hairdresser, Zweifel said his middle-class upbringing has led him to advocate conservative pension-return assumptions and promote a college savings program. Called a 529 plan, the program has reached $2.2 billion in assets and more than 146,000 account owners, both record numbers, under his management, according to his office.

Voters in Missouri, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won by 10 percentage points, re-elected the 40-year-old Democrat to a second term in 2012. Zweifel, who may run for governor, began his political career as a state representative in 2003.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch: Bad medicine for healthy pensions

Rep. Andrew Koenig, R-Ellisville, seems to think there is a problem with public pensions in Missouri. While it’s true that some plans in other states and cities across America have struggled with shortfalls caused by the recession and years of underfunding by politicians, public worker pensions in our state are quite healthy. Just because someone might be sick in San Diego doesn’t mean we need medication in Missouri.

The House Committee on Retirement heard testimony last month on a bill sponsored by Rep. Koenig that would move new state workers into a hybrid pension plan and away from the traditional defined benefit plans that have delivered modest, yet secure retirements for decades. During the hearing, the bill sponsor testified that this switch would get contributions under control and correct faulty assumptions. He stated that if workers had defined contribution plans, “we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now.”
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State Matching for Contributions

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I was wanting to know when the state was matching our amount of money into our retirement again. I heard they started already. How much are they matching and what is they max limit?
There is currently no state match for contributions to the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan. However, earlier this year, the Governor announced a proposal to fund it in Fiscal Year 2015. At this time, this is still only a proposed budget item, and it would have to go through the legislative process and be signed by the Governor to go into effect for the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Visit the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan’s website for more information, or follow the Plan on Facebook and  Twitter for the latest updates. Print Friendly and PDF

Spring Cleaning: Updating your beneficiaries

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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 

Who are your beneficiaries? 

 Your beneficiaries are individuals, organizations, or trusts that you specify to receive amounts payable if you die. In the case of MOSERS benefits, we focus here on beneficiaries for life insurance and possible refund of contributions. Survivor benefits related to your pension are a separate matter. Read more about survivor benefits.

It’s important to periodically review and update your beneficiary designations. You may make changes as often as you wish, but it is your responsibility to keep your designations up to date. If your beneficiary dies or you get divorced, you may want to consider completing a new form.

Life insurance proceeds will be paid according to your last designation (regardless of your marital status). You should inform your beneficiaries of their designation so they are aware that they may become entitled to a benefit.

Beneficiaries are eligible to receive: 
  1. Life Insurance Proceeds – MOSERS administers life insurance for most, but not all, state employees. Employees of the Missouri Department of Conservation, public colleges or universities (except State Technical College of Missouri and Lincoln University), do not receive MOSERS life insurance.
  2. Refund of Contributions – If you are in the MSEP 2011 and you die before you are vested, your beneficiaries are eligible to receive your contributions. 

Designating or Changing a Beneficiary 

It’s easy! Log into the MOSERS Secure Member Login. Under Forms, select Life Ins Beneficiaries or Contributory Beneficiaries.

 Be sure your instructions are clear and that you provide as much information as possible for your primary and contingent beneficiary designations (you may have more than one). You may also name a trust, corporation/organization/charity, or estate as your beneficiary(ies). You must indicate the amount (percent/fraction) for each beneficiary designation. Examples of beneficiary designations can be found with the form.

If a minor (a person under the age of 18, except an emancipated minor) or estate is your beneficiary, it may be necessary to have a conservator or a legal representative appointed before any death benefit can be paid. This means legal expenses for the beneficiary and delay in the payment of insurance. Please take this into consideration when naming your beneficiary. As an alternative, you may wish to set up a trust to receive your assets upon your death. A trust is a legal arrangement through which a trustee manages the assets for your beneficiaries. If you would like to set up a trust, please contact an attorney.

What happens if no one is designated? 

If you do not designate a beneficiary or if no designated beneficiary is living, your life insurance benefit will be paid in the following order to your:
  1. Surviving spouse. 
  2. Surviving children (including legally adopted children) or their descendants, divided equally.
  3. Surviving parents, divided equally. 
  4. Surviving brothers and sisters or their descendants, divided equally.
  5. Estate. Updating your beneficiaries is a simple step that will save time and make sure that your finances will be handled as you wish. 
If you are interested in more information, please review the MOSERS Basic & Optional Life Insurance handbook or the Member Contributions brochure. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday Top Five: Retirement Related News for 4/4/14

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As private company pensions fade away, reports show the majority of workers do not have enough retirement savings. They may be forced to work long past the typical retirement age and many will fall into poverty and depend on taxpayer-funded programs to get by.

Contrast this with public employees, many of whom can retire in middle age with taxpayer-paid pensions for the rest of their lives and you have the heart of the debate in the Legislature over changing the way the Florida Retirement System works.

You may have noticed a recent blog post published by Brookings' Brown Center on Education Policy Chalkboard entitled, Do Public Pensions Provide Equal Pay for Equal Work?  It raises the question of whether public pensions provide women equal pay for equal work and is available here. 

NIRS has conducted a fact check on this post, and we have found that it is deeply flawed in its attempt to redefine equal pay for equal work regarding teacher pensions. 


We applaud guest columnist Peter Fisher’s “Strengthen, don’t break, Iowa’s public pension plans” (March 18). Fisher understands what previous guest columnist Deborah Thornton clearly does not:
  • • That defined benefit public pension plans are the most economical, most effective retirement plans.
  • • And that they not only safeguard public employees’ financial security in retirement, but contribute significantly to the state’s financial security as well.

News about retirement since the financial crisis has been decidedly negative. Workers aren't saving enough. Pensions are underfunded. Long-term investment strategies to make up the difference are far from obvious.

But new research suggests that the state of retirement in America isn't as disastrous as thought.

2014 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute  showed Americans are increasingly confident in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. The improvement came after the RCS survey report recorded lows between 2009 and 2013, the years following the stock markets devastating losses in 2008. It is no surprise that the survey shows improvement after the extremely strong performance of the stock market and rising property values in 2013.
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Real Retirees: Randy Woods

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Randy “Woody” Woods retired from MOSERS in February 2014. He was a supervisor in the Information Technology & Systems Development section and had been with MOSERS for over 26 years.  When Randy started, in 1987, MOSERS was located on Leslie Boulevard and had an IBM System/38. The one PC was in the accounting department and ran one program: Lotus 1-2-3. There were only around 10,000 MOSERS retirees, and now there are around 40,000 retirees and survivors. How things have changed!

We interviewed Randy on his career at MOSERS and how new technology affected his job. He said,

“The most stressful change to affect my job had to be getting ready for Year 2000 (Y2K).  The deadline was 12/31/1999 and every computer program and every file on every system had to be ready.  It was scary because if we missed something the impact would be immediate and possibly severe.  I remember staying up late watching the news on 12/31/1999 as each country around the world reached the year 2000 and waiting for the bad news.  We weren’t sure cars would start, the power grid would fail, or businesses would fail. We passed the test.  Our systems ran flawlessly.”

He remembers other changes involving technology:

“When I started there were no PC’s, no laptops, no Internet, no email, no image system, and no smart phones.  Communication with our members was limited to face-to-face, snail mail, or by phone. Postage and paper costs were major budget items. The Internet, websites, and email changed everything. Today we use technology to automate everything we can to improve data accuracy and provide more convenient access for our members.  The MOSERS website is constantly being enhanced to improve communication with our members.”  

Also, legislative changes that have affected MOSERS are additions of BackDROP, the MSEP 2000, the MSEP 2011, and offering basic life insurance to members.

Randy also believes that Executive Director Gary Findlay has had a “profound impact” on MOSERS and “has challenged us on a daily basis to do our best in regards to service to our members.” Under his direction, MOSERS has participated in CEM Benchmarking (Cost Effectiveness Measurement, Inc.) to rank our service and cost as compared to similar retirement systems. What this means is, “for the last several years, MOSERS has been ranked either #1 or #2 in service to our members. At the same time, our cost per member is at or below the average of our peer group. This means we are good at what we do and we use our resources efficiently.”

Also, throughout the years, MOSERS has won many awards, hired our own investment staff, SEBES  (Statewide Employee Benefit Enrollment System) was added to streamline the state employee benefit enrollment process, started Rumor Central, began Retiree Connection, added Money Matters workshops,  became involved in social media, and, more recently, began implementing strategic planning initiatives.

What will he miss the most about MOSERS? Randy says, “I will miss the people I work with.  They are talented, professional, and easy to work with. It has been energizing to work with employees that have a passion for excellence.  The status quo is not good enough at MOSERS. We can always do things better.  We might make mistakes but we will learn from them and move on.”

Randy retired online like about half of our members now do. His experience was, “Awesome!” He explains,

“I logged into my information on the MOSERS website and clicked on the “Retire Online” button and went through each link on the left side of the screen.  A green check mark appeared by each item as it was completed.  So, it was obvious what was completed and what was not.  There were some items I left and came back to later after gathering information and conferring with my spouse.  There were a couple of times I conferred with a MOSERS benefit counselor for clarification. It was easy, fast, and straightforward.  I always knew where I was in the process and what I needed to do next.”

Randy said he plans to stay busy in retirement with family and taking care of his farm near the Iowa border.

“I can look out the kitchen window and watch ducks and geese on the pond.  Sometimes, I see deer, foxes, coyotes, and other wildlife in the meadow below the pond. I plan to spend more time with my family.  My dad is 90 years old and I plan to spend more time with him. I plan to use my tractor, backhoe, skid loader and farm truck to make improvements to my land and timber.  I want to put in more drain tile to improve the drainage for my row crops.  I want to improve the ponds and terraces and waterways.  Also, I have reserved areas of my land to improve the habitat for wildlife, especially quail.  I have trees that need to be thinned, harvested, and pruned.”

The advice he would give to people about to retire includes several suggestions:
  • Run the numbers:  Log onto the MOSERS website and run your benefit estimates. In general, your retirement benefit will be much less than your paycheck. Also, your medical premium will likely be much higher in retirement.
  • Choose your retirement plan wisely (if applicable): I had the option to choose between the MSEP and the MSEP 2000. The MSEP 2000 would have given me the largest benefit and BackDROP amount but would have locked me into a lower COLA. After analyzing my options, I chose the MSEP because after about 10 years it was by far the better option.
  • Get out of debt: If you have a house payment, car payment, and have outstanding balances on credit cards, then you may have a tough time financially in retirement.
  • Make plans: What are you going to do in retirement? You need something to keep you active, keep your mind sharp, and give you a reason to get moving each day.

Randy also made specific choices about what to do with his annual leave balance, deferred compensation account, and cafeteria plan. It’s a good idea to coordinate with your other medical providers ahead of time so you know what forms they will need.

His advice to active state employees:
  • Set aside as much money as you can in the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan. Start the first month as an active employee and put the maximum amount you can afford in every month.
  • Take advantage of the cafeteria plan. Just running your insurance premiums through the cafeteria plan can save hundreds of dollars every year.
  • Don’t waste your sick leave. It adds to your creditable service at retirement, which increases your benefit year after year.

Also consider how your taxes will be affected in the year that you retire and discuss the implications of your decisions with your tax advisor.

Thanks, Randy, and best of luck to you in retirement! 
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April 2nd is National Employee Benefits Day

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This year National Employee Benefits Day is focusing on retirement education and financial wellness. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) has a page dedicated to National Employee Benefits Day on April 2nd. Some valuable resources for retirement planning include:
To aid in your retirement planning, MOSERS is distributing Annual Benefit Statements to active employees in March and April. These statements are a comprehensive summary of your total compensation through pay and benefits so you can plan for your financial future. Look for your email notification and access your statement through your secure Document Express. You can read more here.


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