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(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 http://bit.ly/WestlakePREP 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.

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The pay date for August is 07/31/2015.

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Monthly Benefit Payments Direct Deposit Dates
August 07/31/2015
September* 09/01/2015
October 10/01/2015
November 10/30/2015
December* 12/01/2015

*Direct deposit notice or check stub will be mailed to all benefit recipients.

You will receive a check stub whenever there is a change to your benefit, such as health care premium change, a tax withholding change, or a bank account change.

SERS strongly encourages all retirees to have their pension payments paid directly to a bank or credit union. Direct deposit of your funds is the only way to assure that your payment will be available on the first of every month. Direct deposit eliminates any concerns about late, lost, or stolen checks. Since pension checks cannot be forwarded, direct deposit also eliminates delays when you travel during retirement. It is your responsibility to make sure the funds are in your account before writing checks against your account.

If you do not enroll in direct deposit, there is no guarantee that you will receive your payment right on the first of every month. Delivery delays might occur that are beyond SERS’ control, such as lost or stolen checks. You must wait 10 days after the expected delivery date before SERS can begin the process of stopping payment and issuing a new check. This delay will not occur if you have direct deposit.

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(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.

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(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 SERSGASBreports@ohsers.org.

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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(6/3/15) - The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office warns of a recent telemarketing scam.

Callers claim to represent the Franklin County Clerk of Courts. Intended victims are told they owe money for not showing up to jury duty, then are instructed to load the money on a prepaid debit card.

Sheriff Zach Scott assures citizens that no one from the Clerk of Courts office would contact them to demand money.

If you receive one of these calls, please contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at (614) 525-3333.

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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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