A member recently emailed the following: I am currently a vested member and am possibly getting ready to change jobs to an employer that does not have Lagers. I want to keep my Lagers because I am a vested member, how do I do that?
It’s that time again when we pick a city, county or a region of the state to feature the economic footprint of LAGERS. With the holidays upon us, I found myself thinking close to home and realized that we had yet to do a feature on my home county.
One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with members at Pre-Retirement Seminars. It is an exciting time in members’ lives as they begin to think about transitioning from their careers into a long-awaited, hard-earned retirement. But such a transition is not without a few major decisions, one of which is selecting a LAGERS payout option. Like many decisions you will have to make as you begin your retirement journey, choosing a payout options is an extremely important one, especially since it cannot be changed down the road. It’s only natural then, that many of our members’ top question as they file into the seminar room is ‘how do I know which is the best payout option for me.’
I recently attended a National Public Pension Funding Forum hosted by the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems, and had the opportunity to hear from many pension fund administrators and experts about the pension funding successes and challenges in the United States. As funds from across the county continue to work to ensure long term financial stability, one of my biggest takeaways from the event was that even though there are often no easy answers when it comes to pension funding, LAGERS is getting a lot of things right.
We spend a lot of time talking about the savings crisis in the United States. We’ve written about the unfunded liabilities in 401(k) plans, we’ve written about the lack of financial literacy, and the dangerously low retirement account balances across the country. And while all of this might lead to the conclusions that having a defined benefit plan, like LAGERS, is an important cornerstone to retirement security in America, pension reform debates still often favor the significant reduction or elimination of defined benefit plans altogether.
When you think about your LAGERS benefit, probably the first words that come to mind are ‘retirement benefit.’ After all, Retirement System is in our name. But don’t forget that there is more to your benefit than the name may suggest; LAGERS also provides our members with disability and survivor’s benefits.
Don’t think your employer elected these benefits? Think again. Every LAGERS member is automatically covered by both disability and survivor’s benefits. Here’s what you need to know about this important benefit:
As some pension plans across the country continue to struggle with growing unfunded liabilities, we hear a lot these days about pension reform. One common topic these reforms address is the assumed rate of return used in calculating the fund’s required contribution rate. While it is imperative that all assumptions used in the calculation of an employer’s pension cost are reasonable and reviewed periodically, it seems that blaming a fund’s chosen rate of return for any funding shortfalls is probably missing the mark.
While policy makers continue to grapple with the question of what is a ‘realistic’ or ‘ideal’ investment assumption, a pension plan experiencing funding difficulties is likely less because of the actual assumption and more the result of not consistently making the required contributions, or failing to adjust the contribution rate when plan experience doesn’t meet the assumptions.
Last Friday marked the end of what has turned out to be a surprisingly productive session. This year was a refreshing change from recent sessions past in which the chambers found their legislative work slowed by conflict and infighting and PQs. Both chambers worked diligently to ensure this year was a different story.
We are entering into the final few weeks of session, as we continue to watch several bills that could impact LAGERS. Back in January, I wrote about three bills in particular: House Bill 1329, House Bill 2044, and Senate Bill 628. All three of these bills contain language that would allow for Metro Planning Organizations and Soil and Water Conservation Districts to seek membership in the LAGERS system.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Missouri Municipal League’s Partner in Governance Conference. This event is a one-day gathering of the minds, with partners from the Missouri Municipal League, the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri, the Missouri Association of Counties, the Missouri School Boards' Association and FOCUS-St. Louis, in which local leaders discuss various challenges and best practices in local government. While the entire day was outstanding (and I’d highly recommend you attend next year), there were a few highlights for me that I think are particularly noteworthy.