Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dedicated LAGERS Members – Thank You!

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The closer we get to Thanksgiving it seems that everyone on social media is posting their appreciation for certain people, things, or life circumstances. I am going to go ahead and jump on the same bandwagon and discuss how I am thankful for LAGERS members.

Have you ever thought about how the streets in your community were built or how the neighborhood park came to be? I would say there is a good chance that a LAGERS member may have had a hand in those accomplishments or that member may have been you 🙂

LAGERS membership is truly a diverse group of people. There are some members who are just starting their career in public service and others that have been with their employer for decades. We have people who pick trash, pave streets, process utility payments, fight fires, keep our streets safe, and much more. Collectively, the LAGERS membership is working daily to make our communities cleaner, safer, and just plain better places to live.

Just in case you need some proof about LAGERS members’ dedication to and love of their communities, here are few quotes from LAGERS membership:

Deborah Baker, Pulaski Health Department – “Everybody should be able to give back to our community and I get to do that every day…sometimes you just go the extra mile behind the scenes for your community because you just take your job to heart.”

Karen Bailey, City of Sikeston -“We make a difference in the lives of 20,000 people every day! We make the community safer. We make the community cleaner. It’s nice to work where you can make that kind of impact every day!

If you are a LAGERS member or retiree, give yourself a pat on the back for a great job in helping your community. Myself, I would like to thank all of the LAGERS members and retirees for continually amazing me with your commitment to making our communities great.

Jeff Pabst, CRC Public Relations Specialist

Jeff Pabst, CRC
Public Relations Specialist

5 Common Mistakes You Want to Avoid as You Approach Retirement

Canoe, Boat, Water, RelaxPlanning for your retirement is one of the most exciting times in your life. You’ve worked hard all these years and now it’s your time to sit back and relax! Before you ride off into your sunset, you will want to make sure you avoid some common pre-retiree mistakes that could derail your retirement. I sat down with LAGERS’ Senior Benefit Specialist, Diane Towne, and talked with her about some of these common mistakes LAGERS members encounter as they near retirement.

Not Understanding Your Payout Options

Without hesitation, Diane describes the number one mistake pre-retirees make as not taking the time to understand their options. When a member applies for benefits, they receive a sheet in the mail with eight different choices, which can feel very overwhelming. “I often get calls from people wanting to know what the most popular payout option is. I don’t like saying one option is more popular than another, because the most ‘popular’ option may not be the best option for them.” Diane encourages pre-retirees to take time to educate themselves. Especially if you are wanting to provide income for a spouse, understanding what each options means and how it works can help you make a better decision about which option will fit your needs best.

LAGERS has many resources available to pre-retirees wanting to learn more about their options including live and recorded webinars, free pre-retirement seminars, website and printed publications, as well and one-on-one counseling with a benefits specialist.

Failing to Realistically Assess Your Retirement Needs

The second mistake really goes hand in hand with the first. “I’m constantly reminding people that the payout option you elect at retirement cannot be changed.” This means that when you apply for your benefits, you should have a serious discussion about what you think your needs will be in retirement. You may think the $200,000 you have set aside in your deferred compensation plan is going to be enough, but is it really? What happens if that money has to last a spouse 25 years or if your health begins to fail, or maybe you want to travel and enjoy a more affluent lifestyle?

Taking the time to sit down and look at what you have and what you hope to accomplish in retirement, may change your mind about which option is right for you, and since you can’t change your payout option midstream, getting it right the first time is important. Being honest with yourself about your retirement assets, your health, and your expectations for retirement can really help you make an informed decision.

Forgetting to Plan for Taxes

Taxes are an inevitable part of retirement, and just like when you were working, you should do some tax planning to make sure you are maximizing your benefits. LAGERS staff cannot provide specific tax advice, so it is important for every pre-retiree to talk to a tax professional about retiring. Tax planning doesn’t have to be overly burdensome. Diane adds, “I always tell people to have that conversation the year before they are planning to retire while they are getting their taxes prepared. Let your tax preparer know that you are thinking about retiring in the coming year and have a conversation about what your plans are. Are you taking a lump sum, are you moving out of state, will your tax bracket change, do you know about Missouri’s Public Pension Exemption? That way, when your benefit begins, there are no surprises.”

Not Being Organized

Retiring is a major change in lifestyle, and you should plan accordingly. Take the time to get organized and have a plan well in advance of when you want your benefits to begin. Attend a pre-retirement seminar, plan a visit with your financial advisor, talk to your tax consultant, and gather your personal information required for the retirement process including birth certificates and marriage licenses. Having a plan can help eliminate surprises and ensures that your benefit will begin when you want it to.

Shying Away from Asking for Help

My card’s on top…and it’s there for a reason. “When I send out a member’s retirement packet, I always staple my card right on top. It’s because I want members to feel comfortable about calling and asking questions when they have them,” says Diane. Remember that the options elected at retirement are permanent, so if you don’t feel comfortable about the choice you are making, give your benefits specialist a call. “Sometimes all a member needs is to hear a LAGERS staff person reassure them that they understand their benefits correctly… I do this every day, a member will only do it once, so I am always happy to help walk people through it!”

Planning for your retirement can feel like a lot to think about, but remember that you are not alone. LAGERS staff is ready to assist you through the process and ensure you are comfortable with the decisions you are making. With a little bit of planning, you will find yourself well on your way to enjoying the retirement of your dreams!

Elizabeth Althoff Public Relations Specialist

Elizabeth Althoff
Public Relations Specialist

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Have You Ever Noticed the Guy that Cleans Up Your Trash?

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There is a new show on CNN with Mike Rowe called “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”  I haven’t watched a single episode but I can gather from the previews it’s about jobs that are necessary, but not glamorous.

One such job would be cleaning up other peoples’ garbage.  The only thing that could possibly be worse would be cleaning out portable toilets.  I should know, as I happen to be very experienced in this area because of a job I had as a teenager working for a rental company.  It’s gross.  Really, really gross.  In fact, I have had several jobs that would probably qualify for Mr. Rowe’s show.  Maybe that’s why I have such a deep appreciation for the people that do the work that no one else wants to do.

Have you ever noticed the guy that cleans up your trash?  I mean really noticed him?  I have, and his name is Joe.

On my daughter’s second birthday we were enjoying a beautiful April morning at one of the local city parks.  It was a Monday, and there was still some trash blowing around from the weekend and the garbage barrels were overflowing.  The sight of the trash bothered me.  So much so that it became difficult for me to concentrate on having fun with my family thinking about the inconsiderate litter bugs soiling my little girl’s birthday!

Just as my annoyance was about to reach the point where I started picking up the trash myself, a middle-aged man in a neon yellow shirt and mesh-back cap appeared.  He worked quickly, silently, and alone.  I’m not sure if he noticed us, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he gathered up all the garbage that was blowing about the grass.  Then, just as quickly and silently, he emptied all the garbage barrels.  I wanted so badly to thank him for his service but, all of a sudden, he was gone, leaving a clean park and happy family behind.

Why did I think this was so remarkable?  Was it the efficiency and pride of how he went about doing a job that no one else wants to do?  Definitely.  But more importantly I felt that this man had played a part in making my princess’ birthday a little more special.  Providing a clean, attractive, safe place for her to play and enjoy her birthday meant something to me.

I found out later that man’s name is Joe and he has been cleaning the parks in my community for almost 40 years.  Joe is a public employee that performs a much needed service for the citizens of his town.  While there are many others like him, Joe provides a shining example of the value of the public sector worker to our communities.

Why has he done his job so well for so long?  We decided to talk to Joe, and in so many words his response was, “Somebody’s gotta do it.”

Watch our conversation with Joe to learn more about the value he provides to his community.  And to all the other ‘Joes’ out there, thank you!

 

Jeff Kempker, RPA, CRC

Jeff Kempker
Manager of Member Services

You’re Vested, Now What?

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I receive countless calls from LAGERS members inquiring on when they will become vested and what it means when they are. I must admit that before I started working for LAGERS I had very little knowledge on how retirement vesting works and how it would affect me. What I have learned is the importance of becoming vested and how it will allow for me to receive a benefit in the future. If you are unsure or only know what a co-worker or friend has told you, hopefully the following will help clear up the subject of vesting.

So what does it mean to be vested with LAGERS?

Once a member is vested with LAGERS, they are guaranteed to receive a benefit whether they continue their employment with a LAGERS employer until retirement age or terminate and employ outside the LAGERS system.

To become vested, a member must earn five years (60 months) of service credit within the system. The 60 months may be earned with one LAGERS employer or a combination of LAGERS employers.

So what happens if a member leaves employment before they are vested?

If a non-vested member terminates, they have 10 years from their termination date to re-employ with the same or another LAGERS employer. If they do, the service credit they earned with the previous LAGERS employer would be counted towards their vesting with their future LAGERS employer. If the member chose to take a refund of contributions when they left employment and forfeited that service, they would have the option to return the amount of the refund plus interest to LAGERS in order to reinstate that service.

For example, if a member terminates from Employer A with 3 years (36 months) of service then reemploys with Employer B (within ten years from their last day with Employer A), they would only need another 2 years (24 months) to become vested.

It is that simple! If you have any questions regarding vesting and your account, you may log onto your myLAGERS account to view the status or give us a call.

 

Dennise Schaben, Accounts Analyst

Dennise Schaben, Accounts Analyst

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