Extends Dental & Survivor Benefits

JUNE 28, 2012: Retirees and survivors were greeted with good news late last night, as House and Senate budget negotiators announced an agreement on the $32.5 billion FY13 state budget. Beyond a 3% state & teacher COLA on the new $13,000 base are two long-sought benefit enhancements.

Contained within the outside sections of the budget are two Association sponsored amendments: Sections 62-63 increase the minimum survivor benefit of pre-November 1996 accidental disability retirees from $9,000 to $12,000, Sections 66-67 allow municipal retirees, insured under the state’s Group Insurance Commission, to participate in the retiree-pay-all dental plan.

Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington), a retired firefighter and Association member, sponsored the survivors’ increase in the Senate budget. He successfully argued that increasing this minimum benefit was not only the right thing to do, but could be done with little financial impact on the retirement systems.

Assuming Governor Patrick signs the measure into law, it will take effect in July for members of the state and teachers’ retirement systems. For municipal retirees, your local retirement system and its legislative body must adopt the new survivor benefit.

The extension of dental benefits to municipal retirees, insured by the GIC, was carried in the House by Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy). Chan successfully demonstrated that retirees enrolled in the GIC, from municipalities like Quincy, should be allowed access to the GIC’s retiree dental plan. And since retirees pay all costs associated with the plan, there is no additional cost to the Commonwealth or municipalities.

The details must still be worked out as to when municipal retirees, who are enrolled in the GIC’s healthcare plans, will be able to join the dental plan. MetLife is currently the carrier for the retiree dental plan. Monthly premiums for FY13 are $26.37 (I) and $63.56 (F).

Governor Patrick now has 10 days to review the budget before taking action.