Pension/Health


Metlife Dental Plan- by President Wray Young

If you are interested in dental insurance, the MPA and Local 215 Firefighters have negotiated a Metlife plan that you should take a look at. It is not cheap and not for everyone, but if you have dental needs other than just cleaning, it may be a plan that would be right for  you.  This plan has been in place for a number of years and I have not heard a negative complaint about it.  Click on the links below for plan information and enrollment form and/or call 414-220-9900 and tell Thomas or his associate that you are a member of the Milwaukee Retired Police Association and have a question about the MPA & Local 215 Firefighter’s Metlife Dental Insurance Plan. 

MRPA-Dental-Vision-2024-Review-Form

MRPA Dental 2024 Enrollment Form


Pension Fund Update

by Tom Klusman, Retiree-elected Board Trustee

Hello All.  Below is a brief summary of recent information regarding the happenings and status of our pension system.  I will be explaining these items in more detail, along with others at the MRA (Milwaukee Retiree Association) Spring membership meeting/luncheon on April 30th at State Fair Park.  

CURRENT STATUS

As of this writing, which is happening in the third week of March, our fund’s total value stands a few dollars short of $6 Billion. 

                So far, YTD our investment portfolio (our most fruitful funding source) has brought in $146 million in Capital Market Gain.  This equates to a +2.43% return YTD.

Outgoing monies YTD are at just over $84 million.  Since the March retiree payroll doesn’t go out until next week, these dollars paid for January & February so far and some administrative expenses.  We are now running about a $40 million per month pace for just the retiree payroll portion.

On the incoming / contributions side, this year has a special distinction.  In January, we received the largest employer contributions ever to our fund.  This influx of capital is a much-needed shot in the arm for our underfunded system.  More specifically, the fund received $211.7 million in January.  The active employees will continue to contribute throughout the year each pay period and that too will bring in what amounts to about a million per pay period.   YTD we are at $214 million incoming.

Regarding our fund’s member population; it is timely to note that as of the start of this year, we are 28,389 members strong; specifically 13,875 Annuitants, 11,338 Active employees, and 3,176 on Deferred status.  I mention this now because this is the largest we will ever be.  With Act 12 closing our fund as of January 1, all new hires are being enrolled in the State pension system (the WRS).  As our members leave this world for a better place, we will continue to shrink.  This will take a long, long time though so don’t fret, our ERS is still going to be around for a long, long while.

2023 YEAR-END REPORT

Like I usually do in each Spring Newsletter; this is a good time to share with you the year-end summary on last year/2023. 

Our fund started 2023 with $5.47 billion.  We ended the year with $5.71 billion.  Throughout the year, the fund paid out $488.7 in benefits & expenses.  Contributions totaled $189.9 million for the whole year.  The thing that made these numbers come out so well (i.e. we finished the year with more money than what we started with AND put out $300 million more than we took in) was the performance of the investment portfolio.  Our team managed a +10% return, netting us $544.8 million in Capital Market Gain.  Now, not to throw water on your excitement, but keep in mind that yes, we assume a 7.5% return each year, which this exceeded by 2.5% but remember 2022 was rough and resulted in a -6.5% return/loss.  So 2022 left us 13% short of our goal and 2023 brought us 2.5% closer.  So, there is more work to be done.  Case in point; we just received a revised Valuation for 2023 from our Actuary and our liability is now at $7.6 billion.  This means our current $6 billion in holdings are almost $1.6 billion short. 

ACT 12 UPDATE

I can assure you that our staff at ERS is hard at work and doing an excellent job of implementing the requirements of last year’s Act 12.  There are many things that go with that (enrolling new members in WRS, complying with State auditors, etc etc).  The positive that comes from Act 12, as I’ve said before, is the dedicated funding source of the new sales tax to assist the City with extinguishing our fund’s UAAL (unfunded actuarial accrued liability – technical talk for the difference between the money we have and the money we need; that being the $1.8 billion shortfall I mentioned earlier. 

Finally, as I mentioned at the start, I can and will be more specific and advise on some of the other happenings at the MRA luncheon, but these are the high points.

Thank You for reading!

Sincerely,

-Tom Klusman


 

[HR]

A Bill that would end the Windfall Elimination Provision for public pension recipients in the Social Security Program

April 15, 2022

Dear Wray,

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on Social Security benefits. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know your views on this important issue.

Social Security represents a promise that the federal government has made to seniors and those who are approaching retirement age. Individuals and families have paid into this program, and they lived their lives depending on this promise. It is a promise we must keep. As Congress works to preserve this program for future generations, my top priority will be to protect those in retirement and individuals approaching retirement age.

As you know, Representative Kevin Brady (TX-8) introduced H.R. 5834 on November 3, 2021. This bill eliminates the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), a title of the Social Security Act that can reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. This bill would repeal the WEP and replace it with an updated benefits calculation formula, allowing for individuals who receive public pensions to also be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Act. For existing retirees, Social Security will provide a restoration of benefits payment to cover benefit loses under the WEP.  I cosponsored this legislation because I believe it appropriately addresses a shortfall of our social security system. 

Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue. I appreciate that you took the time to make me aware of your views. Please stay in touch as we continue to move Wisconsin and our nation forward. You can reach my office at 202-225-3031 or by visiting my website at Steil.house.gov.

On Wisconsin,

Bryan Steil
Representing Wisconsin’s 1st District



IRS warns some retirees at risk of tax penalty: What to know

The IRS has a new warning for retirees, and while it’s not about a scam it could end up costing older taxpayers more money than they expect to pay.
The agency issued a statement urging Americans to check the amount being withheld from retirement accounts and monthly pension or annuity checks, as soon as possible, in order to avoid a penalty next year.
Since the year is almost over, the IRS said those who discover they have been paying too little, might need to make a quarterly estimated or additional tax payment directly to the agency.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which enacted a slew of changes to the U.S. tax code, altered the way dues are calculated by the IRS. As such, some retirees are at risk of having too little withheld from regular payments.
Overall, more taxpayers than normal are at risk of having to pay the agency next April.
According to a simulation conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in August, which reviewed the revised federal tax withholding tables for 2018 implemented by the IRS and the Treasury Department, 21 percent of workers are at risk of having their taxes underwithheld – 3 million more than projections based on the old tax code.
Only 6 percent of taxpayers are expected to have wages accurately withheld, while 73 percent are likely to have their taxes overwithheld. The former is three percentage points less than a simulation conducted using the same withholding structure and the old tax code. Accurate withholding was assumed to be within $100 of what is truly owed.
This year, employers are using W-4 forms already on file to calculate withholding amounts, which has posed problems for taxpayers because the sweeping tax reform changes address everything from personal exemptions to the standard deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gave the Treasury Department authority to determine the withholding allowance structure because the old method was no longer suitable, and there was not enough time to issue a new W-4.
When asked in February about how many errors the Treasury has seen so far this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to comment directly, instead urging taxpayers to use the IRS withholding calculator.
Employees can update their withholding amounts and the administration has encouraged them to use the tax calculator, available on the IRS website. Retirees can also use the tool, entering their pension like income from a job. They can also consult a financial adviser.
For Social Security tax payments, the IRS says individuals can ask the Social Security Administration to withhold taxes at specified rates ranging from 7 percent to 22 percent. Changes can be made online.
Changes to IRA withholding amounts can also typically be made online.
The Trump administration released a proposal for the new 1040 tax document, or the U.S. individual income tax return, in June. It is expected to release a new W-4 form later this year.


 

TAX DEDUCTION FOR RETIRED PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS

By President Wray Young

The Pension Protection Act, which was signed into law in August of 2006, allows retired public safety officers to exclude from income distributions made from their eligible retirement plan that are used to pay the premiums for health insurance.  This also includes the MetLife Dental & Vision plans negotiated for Milwaukee retiree firefighters and police.  The distribution must be made directly from the pension plan to the insurance provider.  You can exclude from income the smaller of the amount of the insurance premiums up to a maximum of $3,000 but the amount excluded cannot be used to claim a medical expense deduction. The MRPA is not qualified to give you tax advice so please direct any questions you might have regarding this benefit to your tax preparer or the IRS which, in turn, might refer you to IRS Publication 575.


 

Government Pension Offset & Windfall Elimination Provisions Will Reduce your Social Security Benefits – Wray Young

Kerry Leist, VP/Operations for NATIONAL BENEFIT CONSULTANTS, INC. passes along the following: There is important information regarding the Government Pension Offset & Windfall Elimination Provisions that will reduce your social security benefits and those of your surviving spouse if you should die before her/him.
Click to view:

Medicare Info- 2024 Information

Kerry Leist, VP/Operations for NATIONAL BENEFIT CONSULTANTS, INC. passes along the following important information regarding Medicare eligibility. Click on the following link to see more information on Medicare costs and benefits

Make sure that you have your 40 quarters/credits to be eligible for Medicare
 
There are populations of protective services and a few others that lack 40 quarters. Some of those think they do not ‘qualify ‘ for Medicare. If entitlement is not at 40 credits it will costs those folks more for Medicare unless they qualify on a spouse’s record.  Credits can be obtained through qualified employment or on a self-employment basis.

If you have any questions concerning the attached Medicare information, please contact Kerry Leist at 262-201-4370 ext. 101


 

Police Relief Association (PRA) – By:  Shannon M. Seymer-Tabaska

The Police Relief Association is a non-profit organization (501c3) whose PRA Board is elected by the membership, to include the Milwaukee Police Department Retirees Association (MPRA), the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA), and the Milwaukee Police Supervisor’s Organization (MPSO).   The current PRA Board members include: President:  Branko Stojsavljevic, Vice President: Vacant, Treasurer:  Shannon M. Seymer-Tabaska, Secretary:  Dena Klemstein, Directors:  Patrick Doyle (retired member), David Feldmeier, and Eric Pfeiffer.  In addition, the PRA Board has City Attorney Office representation under City Attorney Patrick McClain. 

To be an active member of the PRA, one must be a sworn active law enforcement officer and/or a retiree who pays monthly dues of $2.08 into the PRA fund, which includes those members approved for a duty and/or ordinary disability.  If a MPD member did not leave in good standing (i.e. termination and/or resigned) his/her PRA benefit ceases. 

At retirement, active law enforcement members have the option to “opt out” of the PRA, but the PRA Board discourages this option as the majority of members lose a $9000.00 benefit that their beneficiary is entitled to at time of death.  Once the latter “opt out” election is made, a member can’t re-enroll in the PRA.  In addition, in 1998, there was a member election regarding the $9000.00 benefit amount wherein members elected to increase their dues to receive the $9000.00 benefit, but if a member did not make the election, their entitlement is $8000.00.  There are also a few older retirees who only pay $1.25 per month into the PRA fund, so their benefit is reduced as well.

As an active member of the PRA, it is pertinent that any life change (i.e. marriage, birth/death, re-location, etc…) that result in beneficiary, address and/or phone changes, the PRA is provided the updated information. Updated information can be provided on a beneficiary form that can be found on the PRA website:  http://www.pra-milwaukee.com/

and/or the member can contact us at (414) 649-8373 to request a form be emailed and/or mailed.     

To claim a death benefit for a PRA member, the designee at death (i.e. spouse, surviving children) must contact the PRA at phone number (414)649-8373 to verify the member was active and in good standing and must provide a death certificate for the decedent.  Members should be aware that the PRA Board members time is voluntary, thus, we do not have a full-time staffed office and will make a good faith effort to respond as soon as possible.

Currently, the PRA Fund is at 8.5 million dollars and it is the PRA Board’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure money collected from members and through donations (i.e. Combined Giving and/or private donors) is invested for fund growth and we all thank you for allowing us to serve the membership as your PRA Board.

                                                        Branko, Shannon, Dena, Pat, David, and Eric


From Greg Thiele

As many of you know, I have had hearing aids for about 15 years. I had to pay out of pocket each time I needed new ones. Today I was at the Avada office in Wisconsin Rapids for my annual test, which is always free. While talking to my audiologist was I was informed that United Health Insurance is now covering portions of hearing aids. He thought that Humana also might be covering some of the cost. While at the office his receptionist contacted United Health and Avada’s corporate offices. I need new hearing aids. The cost is around $5000. United Health informed the receptionist that my out of pocket cost is around $800. They pay the rest. The portion they cover also has to do with how much is left on your deductible. I  for one never knew that United Health was covering any of this. From what they told me, United Health will cover up to around $5000. I was also informed that Avada was bought out by a large company that now owns almost 95% of all hearing aid companies in the world. This company put pressure on many of the insurance companies to start to cover the cost. This company also lowered the cost of hearing aids to make them more affordable. The hearing aids that I am getting for $5000 were almost $9000 last year.   I hope this information helps some of you in the future.   Greg