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House & Senate Negotiate FY21 Budget Differences

House & Senate Negotiate FY21 Budget Differences

$46 Billion Budget Contains State/Teachers’ COLA

NOVEMBER 23, 2020: House and Senate leaders have begun negotiations over the FY21 budgets passed by each branch of the Legislature over the past two weeks. Since the House and Senate passed differing versions of the $46 billion spending plan, a compromise final version has to be negotiated in conference committee before receiving final approval and sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his approval.

A special guest

A special guest

NOVEMBER 20, 2020: This week, our Association President Frank Valeri joins me for our weekly video update. While it’s most often my face that our members see in these weekly updates, it’s important to remember that we have a team of people here at Mass Retirees working on your behalf. In the coming months you’ll be seeing and hearing more from them on a regular basis.

2021 Medicare Part B Premiums Remain Steady

November 6, 2020: Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 2021 monthly Medicare Parts A and B premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts in which the Medicare Part B monthly premium remains steady.

Budget contains good news for retirees

Weekly Mass Retirees News update

By Shawn Duhamel, CEO Mass Retirees Association

Before I jump into this week’s news, let me first remind you that our November Tele-Town Hall meeting takes place today (Friday) at 1:00 PM ET. The focus of today’s meeting will be the FY 21 State Budget, which is also the main subject of this email.

3rd Interim Budget Funds State Through November

3rd Interim Budget Funds State Through November

COLA & Retiree Work Extension In-Works

October 27, 2020: Working in coordination, Governor Charlie Baker and the state legislature have passed a 3rd interim FY21 State Budget that funds the Commonwealth’s operations through November. The first interim budget was passed in late June, covering operations for the month of July. A second budget was then passed to continue operations through October.

SOCIAL SECURITY ANNOUNCES 1.3% COLA INCREASE FOR 2021

SOCIAL SECURITY ANNOUNCES 1.3% COLA INCREASE FOR 2021

Congress Caps 2021 Medicare Part B Premium

October 15, 2020: As just announced by the Social Security Administration (SSA) this week, the benefits, payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries, will be increased by a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This COLA increase will begin on December 31, 2020.

Passing Social Security WEP Reform in 2020

Passing Social Security WEP Reform in 2020

The harm brought to nearly 2 million public retirees by the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is a serious problem that must be resolved. In Massachusetts alone, some 74,000 public retirees have had their Social Security benefit reduced by the WEP. The numbers grow every day as new retirees apply for Social Security.

Mass. Economic Roundtable Provides Fiscal Update

Mass. Economic Roundtable Provides Fiscal Update

3% State / Teacher COLA Remains Delayed With FY21 Budget

October 7, 2020: State officials held a special Economic Roundtable meeting today focused on the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the Massachusetts economy and tax revenues.

A Month From Election, Galvin Talks Up Early Voting Options

A Month From Election, Galvin Talks Up Early Voting Options

Secretary, Locals Aim for Safe In-Person Voting

Matt Murphy, State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 5, 2020.....With less than a month until the election, Secretary of State William Galvin on Monday urged voters to make a plan and not wait if they anticipate casting their ballot by mail to ensure that their vote gets counted.

VOTE NO ON QUESTION 2

VOTE NO ON QUESTION 2

Ranked Choice Voting = Confusingly Bad Idea 

OCTOBER 2, 2020: As increased partisanship has led to further polarization and voter apathy, it is natural for people to seek ways to improve our system of democracy and find new ways to encourage election participation. While we believe that Question 2, so-called Ranked Choice Voting, is well intentioned, the change to our voting process that a Yes vote would bring about is both highly confusing and truly a bad idea. 

With Washington Deadlocked on Aid, States Face Dire Fiscal Crises

Local officials are slashing funding for everything from education and health care to orchestra subsidies.

Alaska chopped resources for public broadcasting. New York City gutted a nascent composting program that could have kept tons of food waste out of landfills. New Jersey postponed property-tax relief payments.

Prisoners in Florida will continue to swelter in their cells, because plans to air-condition its prisons are on hold. Many states have already cut planned raises for teachers.

And that’s just the start.

Active Employees: Become a Mass Retirees Subscriber

Active Employees: Become a Mass Retirees Subscriber

WHY SHOULD YOU BECOME A MASS RETIREES SUBSCRIBER?

Having worked with public retirees and their families for over five decades, Mass Retirees recognizes the growing importance that active public employees place in preparing to make a life-changing decision on your retirement. To best be prepared, it goes without question that you hope to fully informed and knowledgeable. Mass Retirees can help you better understand all aspects of public retirement - including your pension, insurance, as well as Social Security and Medicare.

Pension Fund, MIT Launch Social Investing Project

Rating Discrepancies Underscore Need for Research

Colin A. Young, State House News Service

SEPT. 9, 2020.....The Massachusetts state pension fund is teaming up with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative to try to improve the data available to investors who want to make decisions based on things like the way a company treats its workers, its carbon emissions or its product safety record.

Back From Hiatus

Back From Hiatus

Our weekly updates are back after a short August hiatus. Remember, we include a video update from me within these emails. Click on the photo or the link below to watch/listen to the latest news and information. My goal is to keep our members well informed. 

This week the focus is the Primary Election here in Massachusetts. While Election Day is Tuesday, September 1, vote by mail and early voting have been ongoing throughout August. In a recent survey we conducted, more than 70% of Mass Retirees members indicated that they intended to vote by mail.

Tablet for Seniors Helps Identify COVID-19 Symptoms

Tablet for Seniors Helps Identify COVID-19 Symptoms

A tablet made by a Massachusetts company is using artificial intelligence to help seniors with chronic health conditions as well as to identify symptoms of the novel coronavirus. The technology is empowering seniors to have more control of their health and avoid trips to the doctor and hospital.

 

 

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER JOAN SCHLOSS DIES AFTER LONG ILLNESS

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER JOAN SCHLOSS DIES AFTER LONG ILLNESS

Former Head of Teachers’ Retirement Board

MAY 28, 2020: It is with heavy hearts that we report the passing of Joan Schloss DeLena, who died on May 22nd from a lung disorder related to her prolonged fight with cancer. Joan had served as a member of the Mass Retirees Executive Board since September of 2015.

Mass Public Pension Systems Stable & Secure

Mass Public Pension Systems Stable & Secure

Well Prepared to Weather Storm

APRIL 24, 2020: Learning from the 2008 Financial Collapse and Great Recession that followed, Massachusetts’ 104 public pension systems are financially stable and secure. Not a single system in the Commonwealth is in financial hardship or stands in danger of not being able to meet pension obligations to retirees.

UPDATES: UNEMPLOYMENT AND STIMULUS PAYMENT

UPDATES: UNEMPLOYMENT AND STIMULUS PAYMENT

Unemployment Assistance

The Baker Administration announced this week that the online filing system for those who have been unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic is now open. The benefits fall under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and is separate from the regular unemployment insurance program. 

Pension Fund Weathering Storm of Pandemic, Markets

Pension Fund Weathering Storm of Pandemic, Markets

Managers Overseeing $70.7 Billion Fund From Homes

Colin A. Young, State House News Service

BOSTON, APRIL 22, 2020.....The state pension fund is confident that, despite the volatility that has rocked financial markets over the last six weeks or so, it will have no problem paying out roughly $1.3 billion for pension benefits this year.

STIMULUS PAYMENTS HAVE STARTED

STIMULUS PAYMENTS HAVE STARTED

APRIL 15, 2020: As of today, retirees have begun receiving their one-time stimulus payments that were part of the $2 trillion dollar package passed by Congress in late March. Those retirees with direct deposit on file with either the IRS or the Social Security Administration started seeing their payments show up this week in their accounts.

Stimulus payments will continue to be made over the coming weeks by the federal government.

Applying For Unemployment

Applying For Unemployment

Answering Member Questions 

Public retirees were among the 469,000 Mass. residents who filed unemployment claims with the Mass. Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) over the past 3 weeks. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and economic decline, that number will unfortunately continue to grow at least for now.

Members, who have lost a job during the crisis, have reached out to us with their questions on applying for unemployment. Anticipating much of the same this month, we’ve listed below the most frequently asked questions.

Special Legislation Waives Retiree Work Limits for 2020

Special Legislation Waives Retiree Work Limits for 2020

Final Approval by Governor Expected Soon

APRIL 3, 2020: Late Thursday, the Legislature passed special legislation that waives the legal limit on public retirees working in government jobs here in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign this special act as soon as today, which will waive both the hour and earnings limits for superannuation retirees in 2020.

PRIM Board Election Underway

PRIM Board Election Underway

MARCH 25, 2019: This week, retired and active state employees began to receive ballots to cast a vote to elect your representative to the state's Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board. Mass Retirees Executive Vice President Paul Shanley is the current elected member and is seeking reelection as your representative. Our Association has endorsed Paul and fully supports his reelection to this very important position.