CORE-CT The Teachers’ Retirement Board staff continues a project to migrate everything to a new cloud-based management system the State has adopted. CORE CT is Connecticut state government’s integrated human resources, payroll, and financial system that will replace the more than twenty-year-old system the TRB has been using. It produces the monthly pension receipt statements you have been receiving, for example. It is expected to improve interface between the TRB and school districts, as well as simplify sharing information between State agencies. If you want to learn more about the system, you may do so here. https://www.core-ct.state.ct.us
TRB Elections After discussion of the voting process, the election results for the two retired teacher representatives were announced at the TRB meeting on March 8. It was explained that this was the first contested election in 24 years and generated considerable interest. Two of the active teacher representative positions were open and two candidates were proposed, so that election was uncontested. Six candidates sought the retired teacher representative positions. As of July 1, Clare Barnett and Bill Myers will hold these positions.
All members of the TRB, both active and retired teachers, are eligible to vote. The election turnout chart from the TRB website provides information about the current number of active and of retired teachers and the votes cast. For active teachers, 6.59% of the eligible persons voted and for the retired teachers, 32.05% of the eligible persons voted.
As the first contested election in many years, the process had an undercurrent with a few notable issues, starting with not releasing the names of the candidates who had been approved in the course of the TRB meeting and concluding after the election, with prohibiting any mention during the public comment time, of the campaign involvement of unions or associations. Some dissatisfaction with the process and results of the most recent health insurance contract led people to get involved. Concerns voiced at different times were driven by the significant increase in cost to members who select the Medicare Supplement program. As mentioned in a previous issue, that cost increase was brought about because the Advantage program costs were greatly reduced, thus reducing the one-third of the cost contribution made by State and from the Health Insurance Fund.
We hope that the TRB will focus on these issues that arose:
- Address the cost of the Medicare Supplement option
- Involve the TRB members who have expertise in insurance in the decision-making
- Explore using different companies for the two plans
- Include retired teacher members who use the TRB insurance in the review process
The election is over, but efforts continue via the legislature to increase the number of retired teacher representatives on the TRB. In the meantime, there seem to be many important concerns in the schools and for active teachers that also deserve attention.
Social Security Fairness
Attempts continue for the repeal of the WEP/GPO. Perhaps you, too, were supremely discouraged by the collapse of significant efforts in 2022. Don’t give up. ARTC sent a link to a video that discusses what happened in 2022 and the continuing efforts to right these wrongs. U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a congresswoman from Virginia and one of the lead sponsors of the bill to repeal WEP/GPO, was interviewed by a leader of National Fraternal Order of Police, another group that is harmed by these provisions. In 2022, the bill had 305 co-sponsors, exceeding the 290 required to move a bill out of committee or to a floor vote, but as Rep. Spanberger explained, the lesson learned was that they achieved those numbers too late in the session. She is working again with renewed effort and understanding of how to move the bill out of committee. The video is 39 minutes long, but full of useful information. Watch it and get involved. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCrzelvFuJ8
Yes, it is disappointing that the Cost-of-Living Adjustments we will receive during 2023 are far below the current rise in cost-of-living expenses. This was reported on fully in our December issue, which you may read online at https://sfcrta.com The short version is that the pension fund did not meet the 6.9% rate of return required for the actual increase in cost of living.
There are 32,270 members nationally on the two TRB plans. The most recent report from TRB Administrator Helen Sullivan on Medicare Advantage Plan’s prior authorization approvals was made during the February TRB meeting. It was 99.71%, which is excellent. Nevertheless, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization, advises that seniors should not be shy about pushing back on denials for pre-authorizations if denied. If you are told that an expense is not covered, you are advised to get the name of the person you are talking to and the date and time of the conversation as conversations are recorded and can be reviewed. Send that information by email to healthinsurance.TRB@ct.gov
CIGNA The February issue of this newsletter described CIGNA’s enhanced dental coverage for members with specified medical conditions. That appears to have generated some interest. Here is additional information about how to register for the program. The simplest way to register is to do so online, but that requires you to set up your account at MyCIGNA.com. Once you have done that, you will need to log in. They use two-factor identification, so you will specify where (email or cell phone) you want to receive a code that can be entered within the subsequent ten minutes. Then, scroll down the page to Popular Links. Select Find a Form and then Dental. “Cigna Dental Oral Health Integration Program ® Registration Form”
If you do not have a MyCIGNA account, you can call the number for help with benefits and coverage at 1 (800) 244-6224. Ask them to mail or email a form to you. You must have requested and been approved for the additional coverage before receiving extra services, but you only need to apply once.
Subsidized Internet Access
If you or someone you know needs help paying for internet service, you may qualify for a monthly discount on a new or existing internet service plan through a government program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Details are available here: https://www.affordableconnectivity.gov
Calling All Learners!
Have you discovered Stamford’s Learning in Retirement? The variety and the quality of their offerings are exceptional! Their single-session classes ($10) fit easily into your schedule and there’s no homework. Congressman Himes will be there in April. Check out their offerings and ask to be sent their fall catalog when it is available.
“We’re still learning,” is the motto of Stamford’s Learning in Retirement (LIR) organization. The nonprofit started in 1991, offering talks on music, art, history, current issues, field trips and more! LIR attracts professors and professionals in sharing their knowledge and experiences.
Winter/Spring classes have started, and will continue until May. You can still sign up. Visit their website for the complete Winter-Spring Catalog and to register for classes. Lectures are typically one hour, followed by Q&A, held at the Temple Beth El at 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford.
Learning in Retirement Stamford is a nonprofit, independent organization for the continuing education of people and seniors. LIR is not associated with any other educational organization or denomination.
Henry Barnard Memorial Fund
The Henry Barnard Memorial Fund was established by the CEA in 1953 to help needy teachers who are no longer teaching stay independent, with an adequate standard of living. It is supported solely by donations and in the past, SFCRTA has collected donations for the fund at our meetings. When we were unable to meet in person due to Covid, SFCRTA made donations to the fund on behalf of our members. You may learn more about the organization and how to make donations or request support here: https://cea.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Henry-Barnard-fund-new-brochure.pdf
SFCRTA Book Grant Awards for Future Educators
Each year SFCRTA gives five Book Awards of $2,000 each. Students attending high schools in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton who are planning on pursuing a career in education are eligible. Applications are available on our website https://sfcrta.com and are due no later than April 30, 2023.
Please spread the word and encourage students to apply.
Our membership goes from – January to December. If you have not yet joined, click here for our membership renewal information for 2023. Remember: Numbers matter and we still face many important issues regarding our pension and health insurance.
- If in doubt about your membership status, please contact Janess Coffina at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make sure your check is complete (date, amount, signature.)
- Retain the membership card portion.
- Include your check with the completed information section of the card in the envelope provided.
- Do not staple your check to the card.