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  • May 15, 2019 1:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Support the AREF Through Father's Day and year round with Gifts from AmazonSmile

    Father's Day is Sunday, June 16, and by purchasing a gift for Dad through https://smile.amazon.com/ch/47-2146998 AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) with no additional cost to you. AREF is the research and education arm of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN). Even after Father's Day, Amazon Smile continues to donate when you use this link for purchases.

    For details on AmazonSmile, go to: www.nrln.org/documents/What%20is%20AmazonSmile.pdf.

    You may also make a direct tax-deductible contribution to the AREF at: www.SeniorsAREF.org/donations.html. AREF certification information regarding tax deductibility can be found at www.SeniorsAREF.org under the Tax-Deductible Information tab.

    Bill Kadereit,

    Chairman and President, American Retirees Education Foundation


  • May 09, 2019 3:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In 2020 and all following years, Social Security will pay more in benefits than it takes in from taxes and interest income. Social Security will deplete its $2.9 trillion reserve fund in 2035. Medicare is pointed toward insolvency by 2026.

    The figures come from the latest annual reports by the trustees for Social Security and Medicare released on Monday, April 22, 2019. The reserves will run out a little later than the trustees predicted last year. The NRLN will use the latest information from the trustees to update its "Grand Bargain" whitepaper proposal to save Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years.

    The Social Security program consists of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. The Trustees project that the hypothetical combined Trust Funds will be depleted in 2035.

    Income is sufficient to pay full scheduled benefits until 2026 for Medicare's Hospital Insurance program (Medicare Part A). The Supplementary Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B and Part D) trust fund remains adequately financed throughout the projection period, because of beneficiaries' premiums and SMI has access to general revenues.

    A strong economy and low unemployment are helping fund the program in the near term. However, the outlook in the not too distant future for both programs is for smaller benefits unless Congress and the President take action instead of continuing since 1983 to kick the can down the road.

    The 75-year actuarial deficit for the combined trust funds is estimated at 2.78 percent of taxable payroll, down from 2.84 percent of taxable payroll estimated in last year's report. This reflects a 0.05 percentage point worsening due to extending the projection period and valuation date one year.

    The report projects that over the next 75 years, the program will have unfunded obligations of $13.9 trillion in present value, $700 billion more than the projected deficit of $13.2 trillion a year ago. The program's costs equaled 4.9% of gross domestic product in 2018, but that will rise to 5.9% by 2039, the trustees predict.

    Bill Kadereit, President

    National Retiree Legislative Network


  • April 09, 2019 1:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    April 2, 2019
    The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
    Secretary of the Treasury
    1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    3330 Main Treasury Building
    Washington, DC 20220

    Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

    We the undersigned retiree, labor and consumer organizations, representing the interests of millions of retirees covered by defined benefit pension plans in the United States, are writing to urge you to retract Treasury Notice 2019-18 and restore guidance preventing employers from offering a lump sum payment to retirees in lieu of their remaining annuity. We are concerned that the Treasury Department’s reversal of the 2015 Notice will undercut lifetime retirement security for vulnerable retirees and surviving spouses across the country.

    Four years ago, after studying the issue, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued Notice 2015-49 to announce their intention to amend the minimum distribution regulations under IRC Section 401(a)(9) to provide that “qualified defined benefit plans generally are not permitted to replace any joint and survivor, single life, or other annuity currently being paid with a lump sum payment or other accelerated form of distribution.” The Notice filled in an important gap in the regulations’ interpretation of section 401(a)(9), and we believe its reasoning -- which the new notice does not disclaim or further analyze -- was consistent with the purpose of section 401(a)(9).

    The 2015 Notice was correct as a matter of law, but equally important, it provided important protections to participants. Except in rare situations—such as where an unmarried participant has a terminal illness and the plan annuity thus has little value—participants incur substantial economic, money-management, and legal costs when they elect a lump sum. Employers typically offer lump sum payments with the expectation that many participants will imprudently select a lump sum payout because they underestimate the economic value and legal protections of the annuity and overestimate their ability to invest and manage the lump sum. Lump sum buyouts typically end up as a windfall to companies and impair economic security for retirees. Indeed, the Government Accountability Office issued a 2015 report that confirmed that participants in pay status often suffer significant loss when they elect a lump sum during a temporary election “window.”

    We also are concerned that, in some cases, older retirees may no longer have the capacity to make complicated financial decisions and may rely on others who may not have their best interests in mind. For instance, financial advisors who will make substantial fees managing the distributed assets, and relatives who might benefit from an elderly parent receiving a six-figure payment, may exercise undue influence on such participants to elect a lump sum. In short, we encourage the Department and other agencies to continue studying the issues related to “lump-sum windows,” and not to retract Notice 2015-49, which correctly ended an abusive practice in which plan sponsors profited at the expense of plan participants. For all of these reasons, we urge you to rescind Treasury Notice 2019-18 and reinstate Notice 2015-49.

    Respectfully,

    AARP

    Alliance for Retired Americans

    National Retiree Legislative Network

    Pension Rights Center


  • April 09, 2019 1:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NRLN Engages Coalition to Oppose Treasury’s Reversal on Lump Sum Pension Payments

    The NRLN played a leadership role in engaging three other advocacy organizations to send the attached letter urging Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin to retract Treasury Notice 2019-18 and restore guidance preventing employers from offering a lump sum payment to retirees in lieu of their remaining pension annuity.

    The Notice 2015-49, issued on July 9, 2015, will undercut lifetime retirement security for vulnerable retirees and surviving spouses. A little background on this issue: On July 9, 2015 the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that it would amend its ERISA regulations to no longer allow sponsors of defined benefit pension plans to offer lump sum payments to replace pension annuity payments to pension plan participants who are in “pay status” (already receiving a monthly pension check).

    It is evidence that federal government officials understand what we have been saying, ”…the NRLN urges you to consider our proposals in order to provide pension plan participants the security of knowing that the framework within which they made their retirement financial plans and lifestyle elections will not be unfairly altered without reasonable protections.”

    A March 7, Forbes article said of Treasury’s reversal, “It’s a backtrack in a big way, and it may reopen the door to the problematic lump-sum offers.” The article quoted J. Mark Iwry, who was in charge of the retirement policy at Treasury when the 2015 Notice was issued. He said, “After all our efforts until 2017 to encourage lifetime income and help restore pensions to the private pension system, here is another step backward by the Trump Treasury.”

    The opening paragraph of a CNN Business article on March 20 stated, “Traditional pensions are disappearing in America, and the federal government just made it easier for employers to get rid of them.” When the CNN Business reporter called for a quote to use in the article, I said, "People get blinded by the amount of money. We'll offer you $400,000, and they're age 65. It's not that much money at all. But they don't think about it that way." The article closed with a comment from Josh Gotbaum, the Director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) from 2010 until 2014. "You're taking a group of people who are retirees who are already living their lives on a pension, and you are saying to them, ‘instead of the pension, why don't you take this big check,' and they don't bother to tell them that this big check is worth less than your pension. And that's what Treasury said you can go back and do."

    On March 28, Washington Senators Patty Murray and Ron Wyden sent letters to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig and issued a press release requesting an explanation for the “alarming decision” to reverse course from a 2015 notice and give employers across the country the green light to offload pension liabilities and transfer risk to retirees by offering them a one-time lump-sum payment in lieu of the pensions they were promised.

    We hope our attached letter along with the Senators’ letters and negative press coverage will result in Notice 2015-49 being restored to protect Americans currently receiving a pension.

    Bill Kadereit, President - National Retiree Legislative Network


  • March 10, 2019 3:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Armed with folders containing NRLN whitepaper Executive Summaries and talking points, attendees spread out across Capitol Hill on Feb. 26 and 27 for 70 appointments with Representatives, Senators and/or members of their staffs to advocate five important retirement issues during the NRLN's Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. The issues advocated on the Hill included: 1) Lobbying to reduce the price of prescription drugs through legislation that requires Medicare to do competitive bidding; import safe and lower price drugs from Canada, and stops the anti-competitive pay-fordelay tactic by brand-name drug makers to prevent or delay generic drugs from being available to Americans. 2) The goal of many in Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is to shift federal health care expenses onto the backs of seniors. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are being used as the "Trojan horse" to move Medicare toward privatization. Should privatization happen, the NRLN is lobbying to grandfather and protect the 19 million seniors (33% of all Medicare beneficiaries) who have purchased MA plans in good faith; require federal agencies to investigate and publish comparisons of cost and effectiveness of traditional Medicare and MA; require CMS not to authorize benefits for MA plans that are not provided for traditional Medicare, and reduce the $141 billion annual federal wrong and improper payments (particularly the $90 billion attributable to Medicare and Medicaid) and sequester the saving to be used to eliminate the 75-year deficit for Medicare Part A and B, then Medicare Part D. 3) Lobbying to protect retirees when a pension plan sponsor does "de-risking", the action to replace a pension plan with a lump sum buyout and/or converting to a life insurance annuity. The NRLN wants individuals to have the option to remain as plan participants. If an annuity is selected the plan must purchase reinsurance from a separate, highly-rated insurer to guarantee the payment of benefits, in case of default by the initial life insurance company. 4) When retirees receive their first pension check, they trust the amount shown on the check will be what they should receive monthly. Far too often, pension plan sponsors later find an error in the pension payment calculation and force retirees to pay back thousands of dollars and suffer a large cut in benefits as well. Attendees lobbied for legislation to indemnify individual plan participants from the requirement to refund overpayments by instructing actuaries to account for recoupment as a pension plan funding risk. 5) Lobbying to amend the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) of 1986 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 to allow employers with generously overfunded pension plans to use a portion of the plan's surplus assets to fund retiree benefits, such as, health care and life insurance. Bill Kadereit, President National Retiree Legislative Network We need your committed support to: NRLN Action Alerts, https://www.nrln.org/SE.html#/

  • February 12, 2019 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Retiree Discounts

    The AT&T Retiree Discount Center has been auditing retiree bills. Many of you have been hit with large increases due to the audit.  The Center has shown some retirees as active employees and active employees receive larger discounts.  As a reminder retiree discounts are shown below.  For added information on U-Verse, DirecTV, Internet, landlines and DSL go to https://www.att.com/dep/login or call 877-377-9010.  The Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. central time.  For added information on AT&T Wireless go to https://www.att.com/dep/login or call 800-331-0500.  This Center is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. - 11 p.m central time.

    U-Verse TV packages                             25% discount

    DirecTV premier, ultimate, or choice      20% discount     

    Wireless products and services             30% discount


  • February 07, 2019 10:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    AT&T Retiree Website and In Memory

    AASBCR® is pleased to announce that regarding the AT&T Retiree Website and the “In Memory” list of deceased retirees and active AT&T employees, now, after bringing the issue to AT&T management, the current Retiree Website “In Memory” listing has been updated.  AASBCR® is pleased that it was able to cause movement at least on the  ”In Memory” listing. There also was a Retiree Newsletter that was emailed monthly to retirees requesting it. No idea when or if that will be restarted.  Please note that the Retiree Website is at https://www.e-access.att.com/attretiree/homepage  AASBCR® does not have the volunteers to assist its retiree members on how to verify or change your password.  If you do not know your password, you can contact the HR One Stop group. The number is 1-888-722-1787.  Patience is required and that IS the only number AT&T has provided for password reset.


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