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(8/14/15) - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to warn taxpayers to be on alert for new tax scams that could result in a significant financial loss.

Scam artists are developing new scare tactics to trick taxpayers into providing confidential financial information, or making a fake tax payment to the offender.

Scammers have expanded their approach, targeting virtually anyone. They often angrily demand payment over the phone, threatening unpleasant things, such as police arrest and deportation, if their demands are not met.

The IRS would like to remind taxpayers not to confuse the official IRS site,, with sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in designations such as .com, .net, or .org. Additionally, IRS representatives would not threaten arrest, or demand payment over the phone or call about taxes owed without first mailing you a letter. They will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

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If you believe you have been targeted in this scam, the IRS recommends that you take the following steps:

  • If you actually do owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or do not immediately believe that you do, you can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
  • If you’ve been targeted by any scam, be sure to contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

(8/12/15) - Women face a wage gap during their working careers, which has a significant impact on their retirement preparedness. A report recently released by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) highlights these barriers and recommends policy changes that could help break them down.

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According to Sen. Murray’s report, “Women and the Retirement Gap,” the poverty rate of women ages 65 and older is nearly double that of men. Additionally, women typically earn 78 cents for every dollar that men make. Earning lower wages makes it harder to support a family and save for retirement.

It also means lower Social Security benefits. In 2014, the average Social Security benefit for women over the age of 65 was $14,234. The average Social Security benefit for men of the same age group was $18,113 per year, a difference of 21%.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, women also are more likely than men to reduce their hours or leave the workforce altogether to take care of a sick parent or raise a child. A study from MetLife found that women who leave the workforce early to care for a family member lose roughly $324,000 in lost wages, Social Security benefits, and pensions by doing so.

Sen. Murray recommends that Congress enact several policy measures to help women better prepare for retirement, including:

1.    Raise the minimum wage.

2.    Enhance spousal protections for common accounts such as 401(k) plans.

3.    Expand access to retirement plans, especially for part-time workers.

4.    Increase financial literacy to people of all ages.

5.    Expand and enhance Social Security benefits, specifically for widows and widowers and divorced spouses.

You can read the full report here.


(8/3/15) - Are you planning to retire in another 10 to 15 years? Have you considered your retirement needs and how to achieve them? It is never too early to begin planning.

Considering joining us for a PREP seminar on October 17 in Westlake. We’ll cover a full range of topics including: retirement eligibility, service credit, Social Security’s Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision penalties, and financial planning. Ohio Deferred Compensation will also be there to show you how to invest for a more secure financial future.

The half-day program is free of charge. Space is limited and advanced registration is required, so be sure to register early. Visit to reserve your spot.

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(8/3/15) - Representatives James Renacci and Bill Johnson recently showed their support of H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, by signing on as cosponsors.

H.R. 711 now has 38 cosponsors, five from Ohio. If passed, the bill would repeal Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision.

Thank you, Representatives Renacci and Johnson, for supporting this important legislation.

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(7/27/15) - On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must license same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages that were “lawfully licensed and performed out of state.” To comply with the recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision, SERS will recognize same-sex marriages going forward, and those performed before June 26, 2015 in a state that recognized them.

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With a valid marriage certificate, SERS retirees who were married before June 26, 2015 now have an opportunity to switch from a single life plan of payment to a joint life plan of payment with the same-sex spouse as the beneficiary. A retiree who elected a joint life plan with monthly benefits to multiple beneficiaries (Plan F), and named someone other than their spouse as beneficiary, can now choose to add a same-sex spouse as beneficiary. Affected individuals must apply by June 26, 2016. If the marriage was performed after the Obergefell decision, retirees have one year from the date of marriage to apply.

Certain life events, such as marriage or divorce, automatically revoke a prior beneficiary designation form submitted by a member. If a member does not want to name his/her spouse as beneficiary, a new beneficiary designation form must be filed after the date of the marriage.  Legal same-sex marriages entered into in another state before June 26, 2015 are considered to have revoked a beneficiary designation form submitted before the marriage.

A SERS retiree or disability recipient with a same-sex spouse, as well as a same-sex spouse of a SERS member, retiree, or disability recipient already enrolled in SERS health care are now able to enroll in SERS health care coverage during a special enrollment period running from Aug. 1 through Nov. 30, 2015. A same-sex spouse who is currently receiving payment under one of SERS’ joint life plans for a deceased retiree also is eligible to enroll. More information regarding this special enrollment period will appear in the September issue of Focus.

If you have questions about how the Supreme Court decision may impact your benefits, please contact SERS at (800) 878-5853.


(7/6/15) – In response to the Columbus Business First article titled “Ohio Public Pension Systems Face Second-Largest Shortfall” published June 5, SERS Executive Director Lisa J. Morris penned a letter to the editor to clarify misconceptions about Ohio’s public pension systems when compared on a national level.

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(6/26/15) - The fiscal health of public pension plans nationwide improved last year, according to a recent analysis from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

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Following a strong market performance in 2014, a study of 150 plans showed an average increased funded status of 74%, compared to 72% in 2013.

Future public pension plan funding will be dependent on stock market performance, but researchers expect funding to continue to increase, should most plans achieve their expected returns.

Read the full analysis here.


(6/24/15) - Starting today, employers are able to access their proportionate share data, as required by Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement 68, on SERS’ website.

As a reminder, GASB now requires employers to report their proportionate share of SERS’ net pension liability on their financial statements for fiscal years ending after June 15, 2014. The proportionate share is a percentage of each employer’s required contribution for the year compared to all employers’ contributions.

For many employers, the net pension liability will be much larger than other liabilities on their financial statements; however, they are not responsible for paying them. In Ohio, once employers pay their 14% employer contribution, their pension funding obligation has been fulfilled. SERS is solely responsible for paying off the system’s net pension liabilities.

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Employers with questions regarding their proportionate share should contact SERS at (614) 340-1823 or

To view the proportionate share of net pension liability for each school district, vocational and technical school, community school, and community college in the state of Ohio, and The University of Akron, click here.


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Oppose Social Security Offset and Windfall Penalties

We encourage SERS members and retirees to contact their members of Congress to ask them to support elimination of these provisions. Contacting your legislators is easy using SERS' Legislative Action Alert. By entering your ZIP code, you’ll have access to the contact information (e-mail address, phone number, and mailing address) of your federal legislators.

Encourage your legislator to support the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act.

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