Happy New Year!
Happy new school year, that is. Does September still feel like a new year to you? Perhaps that depends on how long you have been retired and whether you have ties, through friends or family, to the start of a new school year. At the very least, this feeling gives us two new year celebrations per year in addition to Rosh Hashanah, Lunar New Year, Diwali, etc., and we no longer have to bristle at the sight of the back-to-school ads that begin each year on July 5th
What will this new school year bring for us? The most important change for the Connecticut Teachers Retirement Board will be the addition of two additional retired teacher representatives. This change is due to legislation that was supported by the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut, an organization of which we are an affiliate. The passage of the relevant legislation demonstrates that our activism can make a positive difference on our behalf.
Additional Retired Teacher Representatives to the TRB
The new legislation directs that additional Retired Teacher Representatives are to be elected by October 1, 2023, for four-year terms. By the time you receive this newsletter, the period for submitting materials to become a candidate will have closed. The calendar for this process has been very short, but it remains important to be aware of the process and to participate. The most current information at this time can be found at this link to the TRB site.
Why are these additional seats important? The impetus for adding the seats came from two directions. First, the number of retired teacher members has grown for several years and retired teachers were underrepresented by having only two members on the board. The second, and probably precipitating, consideration has been dissatisfaction with the way in which retired teachers were represented through the most recent process for selecting our health insurance plans. It is hoped that having additional retired teacher representatives will provide a more diverse voice for us going forward. Please make every effort to stay informed and to VOTE for additional representatives during September, once the information is released.
Are you curious to know more about the TRB? Via this link, you can see the agenda and read minutes or lightly edited transcripts of meetings as well as sign up to watch the virtual meetings that happen at 3 PM. Next meetings are Sept. 6 and Oct 11.
Health Insurance: Please be aware that 2023-24 is the third year of our three-year contract. At some point during this final year, negotiations will take place for a new contract, which will include provisions for a Medicare Advantage program and a Medicare Supplement program. Each of those will include pharmacy coverage, vision and hearing, and a separate dental plan. With enhanced representation, we are hopeful that the discussion of plan options will be comprehensive and will include other TRB members who are extremely knowledgeable about health insurance. Stay tuned.
COLA Information: It should not come as a surprise to you that our COLA adjustments did not match those given to Social Security benefits as we informed you about this last spring. As a reminder, they were lower because the pension fund did not meet the expected increase of 6.9% that is required for us to receive larger COLA increases.
Enrichment opportunities: With this being back-to-school season, it turns out that you have opportunities to go back to school, too. Fairfield County is fortunate to have two formal opportunities for continuing education. Norwalk Community College’s Lifetime Learners program is designed for people age 50 and older. Classes meet for six sessions and information about their offerings will be here when it is made available.
Stamford-based Learning in Retirement offers single session classes on a wide variety of topics that are sometimes led by our members and are sometimes led by government representatives or college faculty. Their class information is already available here.
Are you living outside of Fairfield County? Look for similar programs in your local area using search terms such as lifetime learning or continuing education.
SFCRTA Meetings: We have enjoyed meeting at beautiful Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton, and look forward to doing so again, but would be interested in also finding a location for more informal meetings that could be held without charge to our members. In order to do that, we need to learn of a location, preferably in Norwalk, Darien, or Wilton (given the direction of traffic flow) with a reasonable rental fee that could accommodate 100 people and have plentiful parking. Know of such a location? Please email information to email@example.com
Social Security Fairness: The efforts continue to overturn the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) reductions to Social Security benefits that negatively impact many educators who retired from working in Connecticut. If you haven’t already, sign up for alerts at https://ssfairness.org
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.