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To: Pension Recipients
Good News! The pension board approved a 2.3% COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) for 2019 for all eligible pension recipients. The plan's actuary said the Fund can afford to pay the full CPI-U (all items) index which was 2.3% as measured at the end of September 2018 per our statute provisions. This will be effective with the January 2019 retirement checks to go out next month.
Congratulations go out to Brad Landi who will be appointed to a 3-year term as a pension board trustee at the January 2019 pension board meeting. Per our statute provisions, if only one candidate is nominated that has agreed to run, as was Mr. Landi, then there is no need for the trustee elections and that person is appointed to that pension trustee position at the following January meeting. The pension board and staff also want to thank Dimitri Nichols for his dedicated service on the pension board the past 3 years.
We regret that we lost the following retirees and widows during 2018:
For benevolent fund members,the benevolent fund representatives will contact you directly as to when future periodic dues are to be assessed and the amount, which will then be automatically deducted from your retirement check. Please contact the benevolent fund folks with any questions.
Don't forget about the Public Safety Officers' (PSO) deduction of up to $3,000 annually. (Also referred to as the HELPS Act, first responders, etc.) The IRS allows retired firefighters (public safety officers) to reduce their income up to a maximum of $3,000.00 based on the medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums which are deducted directly from your retirement checks. This includes any insurance premiums paid for your beneficiaries as well. Please remember this is a limit of up to $3,000.00 and your 1099R's will not automatically reflect this exclusion. The instructions for taking this exclusion should be noted in the Form 1040 instructions as the Public Safety Officer's (PSO) adjustment. Please save your December 2018 check stubs from State Street Bank which will have your year-to-date insurance deductions listed on them. Contact the pension office if you have questions on that. It is strongly advised that you consult with your tax advisor before completing your tax return with any questions you may have.
Our website at www.afrs.org will be updated with a new format and look scheduled to be up and running in January 2019. In the past our "Annual Reports" to the membership have included the annual auditor's financial statements of the Fund detailing the financial position of the pension plan. Also included in the report is the annual actuarial valuation report detailing the plan's pension liability for current and future retirees' benefits, and the amortization period related to funding those liabilities. In addition, the "Pension Plan Guide" has been included in the report to describe the plan provisions including illustrations of various retirement options and examples; as well as a chronology of plan changes and enhancements through the years.
With valuable input from both our retired and active members, several suggestions and recommendations were made to further clarify and expand upon certain new benefit options related to surviving beneficiaries which were made in recent years. These enhancements will prove to be more inclusionary and will be highlighted and incorporated in our plan provisions listed on our website. Going forward the pension board has agreed that only the auditor's and the actuary's reports will be included in the "Annual Reports" to provide the financial and actuarial condition of the Fund; while the "Pension Plan Guide" including retirement benefit options and examples will only be listed on the website as a separate document but not part of the "Annual Report" itself. This will enable more timely changes to the information provided on the website as deemed necessary. The pension board wants to thank the membership for their input and being instrumental in the enhancements to the information to be provided on our website.
The pension board and staff wish all of you a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!