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  • State Employee Pay Raises & Retiree COLAs

    Feb 20, 2019, 11:46 AM By MOSERS

    (Note - We have edited the question slightly to clarify it.) If all state employees get a raise, for example, a 3% raise from the legislature, will retired state employees also get a raise?

    No. The two are not connected. A change in active state employee pay has no impact on benefit amounts for retired general state employees (or retired judges).

    However, by law, regardless of whether active state employees get a raise or not, MOSERS retirees receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 0 - 5%. The amount is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Retired general state employees (and judges) receive a COLA each year on the anniversary of their retirement date, unless one of the following exceptions apply:

    • Retirees who converted from MSEP to MSEP 2000 during the conversion window in 2000 receive COLAs each year in July.
    • Retirees who elected a BackDROP receive COLAs each year on the anniversary of their BackDROP date.
    • MSEP 2011 members first employed after January 1, 2018 who leave state employment prior to retirement eligibility will receive their first COLA on the second anniversary of their retirement.

    We will send you a notice, either in the mail or in your MOSERS Document Express online mailbox, during the month when you get your COLA. You can find more information about retiree COLAs on our website.

    Additional Note: Legislators and statewide elected officials who took office on or after July 1, 2000 (members of MSEP 2000 or MSEP 2011) may have their benefit adjusted according to the percentage increase in pay for an active legislator or statewide elected official but receive no other COLAs.

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  • Contribution Refunds

    Feb 14, 2019, 1:09 PM By MOSERS

    I’m considering accepting a job that participates in Moser. There is a substantial payroll contribution for the pension and that it takes five years to be vested. My question is if I do not work the full five years in order to be vested will my payroll contributions be available to me for withdrawal or transfer?

    Anyone who is first employed in a MOSERS or MPERS benefit-eligible position on or after January 1, 2011 must contribute 4% of pay to the retirement system. Your 4% contribution is used to help pay the cost of your future defined benefit retirement plan and could potentially pay you back far more than you contribute. See a simplified example in The Value of Your Retirement Benefit. When you retire, you will receive a benefit payment every month for as long as you live. This means you can never outlive your MOSERS retirement benefit.

    If you leave state employment prior to becoming eligible for normal retirement, you may request a refund of your employee contributions plus any credited interest. By taking a refund, your forfeit all your credited service. Or, you may leave your contributions with the system if you think you might return to work for the state at some point in the future and would like for those years of service to count toward an eventual retirement benefit. See our Employee Contributions brochure for more information.

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  • MOSERS' Funding Ratio

    Feb 14, 2019, 8:56 AM By MOSERS

    So I read on here that the Funding Ratio for Mosers was around 82% in June of 2010. Looking at the most recent Fund Ratio:59% (correct me if I’m wrong). Should I be concerned about this considering the 20-22% drop in just 8 years when I plan on retiring in 28 years? What is the reason for this significant drop?

    If the drops related to poor investments why when the overall market has recovered and has been doing well during this period?

    If because of liabilities continue to grow faster than contributions/investment returns what steps are being taken for this? Is the lump sum option presented to former employees that left the state going to help this?

    If it continues to go down wont employee/employer contributions continue to go up? The employer contribution rate has steadily been rising correct? Isn’t this a bad sign for sustainability of the fund.

    What steps are being taken to prevent the pension fund from ending up like California or Arizona in the next decade or so? Is any research being done in relations to these funds on why they are failing and how to prevent similar outcomes for Missouri? I’m just asking as I have been very concerned for my future retirement as I’m sure many others are.

    Thank you for your insightful questions and your interest in these very important topics.;

    Certainly, one factor that spurred the decrease in MOSERS’ funded status was the Great Recession of 2009. In our fiscal year 2010 annual report (FY10 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report), it says, “During the year ended June 30, 2010, the funded ratio (of …the MSEP…) decreased from 83% to 80.4%, primarily as the result of the previous years’ unfavorable investment experience” (p 12 FY10 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report).

    Consequently, Missouri was among the first of many states to pass legislation making changes to their retirement benefits. In 2010, the Missouri General Assembly created the MSEP 2011. By requiring employee contributions and increasing the retirement eligibility age (among other changes), this action assists in long-term plan sustainability, retained the defined benefit retirement plan structure for state employees, and provides stability for future generations. While the impact of these changes will grow over time, as of January 30, 2019, already 45.72% of active state employees are in the MSEP 2011.

    However, the primary reason that MOSERS’ funded ratio has dropped so significantly is that our Board of Trustees has taken action over the past four years to incrementally reduce our assumed rate of return (ARR) on investments. This reduction is to more accurately reflect capital market expectations. The Board has also indicated their intention to further reduce the ARR going forward:

    MOSERS Assumed Rate of Return

    • Effective 6/30/2011: 8.5%
    • Effective 6/30/2012 - 6/30/2015: 8.0%
    • Effective 6/30/2016: 7.65%
    • Effective 6/30/2017: 7.5%
    • Effective 6/30/2018: 7.25%
    • The MOSERS Board has indicated an intention to reduce the ARR to 7.10% for the June 30, 2019 actuarial valuation.
    • The MOSERS Board has indicated an intention to reduce the ARR to 6.95% for the June 30, 2020 actuarial valuation.

    Your MOSERS Board of Trustees is actively engaged in prudent analysis, plan sustainability, and benefit security for members. The Board's recent decisions to reduce the assumed rate of return on investments automatically result in higher employer contributions and a lower funded status in the short term but work to ensure MOSERS’ sustainability over the long term. Each year, the MOSERS Board certifies an employer contribution rate which results in an appropriation request within the state budget. The employer contribution is calculated by our external actuary as the amount needed from the state, as the employer, (in addition to investment income and employee contributions) to systematically and appropriately pay current and future benefits. In other words, if we assume that, in the future, we will receive less income from investments and not change employee contributions, the difference must come from increased employer contributions.

    As you inquired about, the voluntary Buyout Program, authorized by state law, was offered by the MOSERS Board of Trustees in 2017 and 2018 to eligible vested former state employees of the system in an effort to reduce MOSERS pension liability. It eliminated $41 million in net liability for the system.

    Additionally, our investments staff reduced investment fees by $36 million in FY18 and the MOSERS Board adopted a new asset allocation, which began in January 2019 and will be fully implemented over a 36-month period. While MOSERS’ investment returns have not always met assumptions in recent years, our long-term investment results, of 9.4% (since first tracking this data in 1981), exceed our current assumed rate of return. This, combined with the new investment portfolio, put us in a good position to meet our assumptions in the future.

    It is important to remember that a pension system, such as MOSERS, operates on a very long-term time horizon. While our actuaries expect that employer contributions will increase and our funded status will decrease over the next few years, they also expect that throughout your career, our funded status will improve and MOSERS will be well-funded by the time you retire – allowing us to keep our promise of helping to provide retirement security for you and all of our other current and future retirees.

    For more information on the above, see our FY18 Summary Annual Financial Report and our Actuarial Valuation Report as of June 30, 2018 (p 32, column 6).

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  • Purchasing Military Service with Deferred Comp Funds

    Feb 13, 2019, 8:34 AM By MOSERS

    I was told that I could use the money from my Deferred Comp to purchase my military time. Is that correct? If so, how would I do so? I could not find any details about in on the website.

    Yes, your MO Deferred Comp 457(b) – excluding Roth 457 assets – and 401(a) funds are available to use for purchasing prior military service. If you have not already done so, complete the Application to Purchase Active-Duty Military Service, required documentation and submit it to MOSERS. We will provide you with an estimate of the cost to purchase your prior military service and a Tax-Free Rollover to MOSERS form that you can use to perform that transaction.

    For additional information, here is a description of this service purchase option from page 6 of our Purchasing and Transferring Service Credit brochure (MSEP & MSEP 2000):

    You may purchase up to four years of active-duty military service credit performed prior to last becoming a member of MOSERS. This may include active-duty military training. To be eligible to purchase military service credit, you must be:

    • A vested, actively employed member of MOSERS, or
    • A terminated-vested member of MSEP (eligible for future benefits, but no longer working for the state).

    If you elect to purchase your active-duty military service, you must purchase all that you served (total months and days) up to a maximum of four years. In connection with such a purchase, MOSERS requires that you submit a copy (not the original) of your military DD 214 or NGB 23 discharge form, which verifies the following:

    • Your service was active duty.
    • Your service was in an eligible branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or reserve component (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard).
    • Your dates of service.
    • You were honorably discharged.

    Any active-duty military service you wish to purchase must have been performed prior to last becoming a member of MOSERS. Active-duty military service performed after you last leave state employment is not eligible for purchase or automatic credit.

    You may only acquire active military service that is not being used for credit or benefits under another retirement plan, other than the U.S. military.

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  • BackDROP Lump-Sum Payment

    Feb 8, 2019, 10:14 AM By MOSERS

    I keep being told that if a person work at least 2 years backdrop pass their normal retirement, they will receive their monthly lifetime benefits, plus whatever their lump sum amount is. Is the second part of this statement true? 

    Yes--If you are eligible for and elect BackDROP at retirement, you will get the one-time lump-sum payment plus monthly pension benefit payments for life.

    The tradeoff is that, in most cases, your monthly benefit payment will be less than it would have been if you hadn’t elected BackDROP.

    The reason most people have a lower monthly benefit when they elect the BackDROP is because any service and any salary earned during your BackDROP period (up to five years) doesn’t count when we calculate your monthly benefit amount. We use your years of service and your final average pay from BEFORE your BackDROP period.

    Your BackDROP lump sum will be equal to 90% of what you would have received during your BackDROP period if you had been retired during that time (based on the life income annuity amount).

    Our BackDROP page, with a BackDROP graphic near the bottom, may help you visualize how it works or you can read the BackDROP brochure for more information. BackDROP can be complicated to understand, so MOSERS benefit counselors are available to help by phone or through an in-person appointment. Call (800) 827-1063 to discuss your options. Counselors can also provide you with benefit estimates with and without the BackDROP so you can compare.

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  • Tax Information for Retirees

    Jan 28, 2019, 2:26 PM By MOSERS

    If you are receiving a retirement check from the state of Missouri are you required to claim it on your state tax income tax return as income?

    Yes, you are required to claim your MOSERS benefits on your state taxes if you are a Missouri resident. (If you are not a Missouri resident, contact your state department of revenue or a qualified tax advisor for the answer to this question.) Below is some additional information that MOSERS retirees often need when filing their taxes:

    1. MOSERS is a public defined benefit (DB) pension plan and the benefit you receive through MOSERS is considered a “public pension”.
    2. MOSERS withholds state taxes only for Missouri residents.
    3. As long as you reside in Missouri, your retirement benefits are subject to Missouri state income tax and federal tax. However, you may qualify for the Missouri state tax Public Pension Exemption on your Missouri state tax return.
    4. We have mailed 1099-R tax forms to all retirees/benefit recipients.
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  • Continuing Basic Life Insurance at Retirement

    Jan 28, 2019, 1:54 PM By MOSERS

    My wife also worked for the state of Missouri for 29 years. Her office closed just before she reached 80 and out. A year later she started collecting her state retirement when she turned 51. Does she still get the $5,000 life insurance like I do. I stayed for 35 years and received full backdrop at age 55. 

    No. Anyone who does not retire directly from state employment ;(within 60 days from their last day of state employment), does not get the automatic $5,000 in basic life insurance coverage at no cost to them.

    The state will continue to pay for $5,000 of basic life insurance coverage for life for retirees who meet the following conditions:

    • They had basic life insurance coverage as an active employee and did not terminate coverage at retirement.
    • They have a MOSERS retirement date that is within 60 days of when they left state employment.
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  • BackDROP & State Taxes

    Jan 25, 2019, 4:05 PM By MOSERS

    Does my backdrop withdrawals add to my state pension income which adds to my state taxable income that effects my state tax exemption?

    Yes, the BackDROP distribution is considered taxable income for the year in which you receive the payment unless you roll it over to a traditional IRA or another eligible employer plan, such as MO Deferred Comp. A popular reason to roll the lump-sum payment into the deferred compensation plan is that it allows employees to defer taxes on the payment until those assets are distributed in retirement. There is a helpful publication on MO Deferred Comp’s website called Thinking About the BackDROP?

    Any withdrawal after retirement is taxable in the year of the withdrawal.

    We suggest you speak to a tax professional or financial advisor for advice specific to your situation . For more information about state taxes, or the Missouri State Tax Public Pension Exemption, please contact the Missouri Department of Revenue or go to:

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  • Final Average Pay Calculation

    Jan 23, 2019, 9:15 AM By MOSERS

    I'd always thought retirement benefits were based on the highest pay of our state employment career. I was told by a coworker who recently attended a pre-retirement seminar that once you become eligible (under the rule of 80 for MSEP employees), that the highest pay rate considered for retirement benefits is already locked in and pay increases after that point will have no impact on retirement benefit. Please advise.

    What you heard is not necessarily true – so thanks for checking with us! Whether or not pay for a given period will be considered in determining your final average pay (FAP) depends on if you elect BackDROP* (if eligible); not when you hit “80 & Out”.

    To calculate your pension benefit, we will use your highest 36 full consecutive months of pay – wherever that occurs in your individual pay history. Practically speaking, most people earn their highest 36 consecutive months of pay in their last three years of state employment, but not always. If you become eligible for and elect the BackDROP upon retirement, your FAP will be calculated using your MOSERS-covered work history prior to your BackDROP date. In other words, pay (and service) during the BackDROP period is excluded when calculating your monthly benefit amount.

    If, at retirement, you do not elect BackDROP, we will review your entire pay history and find the 36-month period with your highest pay (regardless of whether that is before or after you might hit “80 & Out”) and will use that in calculating your monthly benefit. You may elect not to take BackDROP if you want all of your pay and service to count. In most cases, opting not to take BackDROP will increase your monthly benefit amount.

    *BackDROP is available only to general state employees who are members of MSEP & MSEP 2000 and who work at least two years beyond normal retirement eligibility.

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  • Public Pension Exemption

    Jan 23, 2019, 8:57 AM By MOSERS

    Will state pension still be tax exempt for 2018 pension?

    If you are referring to the Public Pension Exemption, we are unaware of any changes to it compared to the previous year. This means that you may not have to pay Missouri state taxes on some or all of your MOSERS pension. See the Missouri State Tax Public Pension Exemption flyer. For more information about taxes, please contact the Missouri Department of Revenue or go to:

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We strive to provide the most accurate information possible in our answers to Rumor Central questions. However, occasionally, laws, policies or provisions change and individual circumstances may vary. Please contact a MOSERS benefit counselor or see the handbooks in our website Library for more detailed information. If there is any difference between the information provided in this blog or on the MOSERS website and the law or policies that govern MOSERS, the law and policies will prevail. See our Privacy, Security & Legal Notices for more information.