All Press Items

May 22, 2015

RETIREMENT NEWS • by Kenneth A. Hauser, President

When to file for Social Security? Full retirement benefits can be collected at age 66 and for those born in 1960 or later, it’s 67. If you or a spouse has worked at least 10 years, you can start drawing benefits at any time between the ages of 62 and 70. “The longer you wait to start, the bigger your monthly benefit.” Today, if you begin collecting at the full retirement age (66), you get 100% of your benefit. It raises about 8% each year you wait and shrinks by about 6% each year for starting early, so at 62, you get 75% of your monthly benefit, and at age 70, you get 132%. While you know that the earliest age retirement benefits start is 62, there are benefits that can start sooner. Survivors’ benefits may be taken as young as 60. Disability insurance benefits can be taken at anyage. Questions regarding benefits, the Social Security Administration provides a questionnaire on its website to help people understand which benefits they are entitled to or call the Social Security Office.

On May 22, 2015, President Obama signed H.R. 606, the Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act, into law. The measure, which is now Public Law 114-14, clarifies that federal and state-based survivor benefits on behalf of a public safety officer who has died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty are exempt from federal tax.

Former Chicago City Comptroller, Ahmer Ahmad, was extradited from Pakistan to Ohio for public corruption, bribery and conspiracy charges. The last such extradition took 11 years; his was done in 18 months. He would have only served five years if he didn’t flee to Pakistan but he now has been sentenced to serve 15 years. Judge Michael Watson stated, “It didn’t have to be this way.” As City Comptroller, Ahmer Ahmad recommended to Mayor Emmanuel that our healthcare benefits be terminated effective January 1, 2017.

Just how cheap is oil? As of August 13th, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading at $42.21. Since there are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil, that’s about $1.01 per gallon. That’s cheaper than milk (about $3.50 per gallon), bottled water (about $7.50 per gallon when bought in single 16.9 oz. bottles) and beer (about $20 per gallon).

What is it that keeps young people interested in school? What helps them become better learners? What is the key to unlocking creativity and brain power through the years? A survey taken by the Salvation Army revealed that the answer is MUSIC. Of the many lessons music has taught us, the most significant is the positive effect it has on education. During the 2012-13 school year, students studying music scored an average of 43 points higher on math sats and 56 points higher on their reading sats; second graders who studied piano scored 27% higher in math tests; schools with music programs graduate 90.2% of students, schools without music education have an average graduation rate of only 72.9% and playing a musical instrument actually changes the anatomy of the brain by causing more neurons to grow. This gives the brain more ways to retain and retrieve information.

The Chicago Public Safety Coalition is made up of: Chicago FOP Lodge 7, Firefighters Local 2, Captains’, Lieutenants’ and Sergeants’ PBPA Union, Union Attorneys, Trustees from the Policemen’s and Firefighter’s Annuity Fund and Ralph Martire and his assistant, Vasyl Markus of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. There hasn’t been any movement on the Casino Bill this summer but hopefully there will be a Casino Bill proposed in the Veto Session this fall which is usually a week in November and December. SB777 proposes to fund the police and fire funds not just for five years but until the Funds are 90% funded which will take until 2061. SB777 passed both houses and was sent to the Governor for his signing but Senator Cullerton made a motion to reconsider which is a Parliamentary Maneuver (time out on the field) and therefore the Governor cannot sign until the Senator removes the motion. The Unions and the Pension Fund Trustees supported both pieces of legislation but only if the Casino Bill was passed first and then SB777. Unfortunately, the SB777 was passed first and that is why a motion to reconsider was made and will not be removed until the Casino Bill is passed. I am supporting the Casino Bill because this is the first time in the history of Chicago that the City is guaranteeing the Police and Fire Funds a source of funding forever.

Some specific facts on the potentially proposed Casino Bill: a) A Casino for the first three years will not fully fund the Police and Fire Funds. The City still needs to find additional sources of revenue to meet the Actuarial Required Contribution (ARC). The City is willing to dip into the excess TIF Funds to get them over the hump until the Casino is in full operation. b) The new Casino’s anticipated net profit will be approximately $300-500 million yearly. c) The temporary Casino will be up and running within three months. d) Rivers Casinos’ gross income is approximately $35 million monthly with 1200 gaming positions. e) The Chicago Casino will be four times the size of the Rivers Casino with 5000 gaming positions. f) There will be a Chicago Casino Board consisting of seven members appointed by the Mayor: an Attorney, a Business Person, a Policymaker, a Financial Expert, one person from the Police Fund, one person from the Fire Fund and one person appointed jointly by the Police and Fire Fund. g) The permanent Casino Entertainment Center will consist of a Casino, a Hotel, Retail Businesses, Theatres and Restaurants. The Center will be a great asset for the City of Chicago and will be fully owned by the City of Chicago. It is anticipated to take approximately three years to build.

In closing, there will be an election of Trustees to the Pension Board on October 22, 2015. Any retiree choosing to run for the retiree position must file their petitions between the 22nd and the 28th of September. I will be filing my petitions for re-election during that time. I would like to thank all the retirees who signed the petition making me eligible to run. I have been endorsed by the Retired Chicago Police Association and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. Trustee Mike Lappe, representing all police officers under the rank of Sergeant, is running for re-election and has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7. The Retiree Pension Fund elected position provides no monetary benefits, no salary, no car, and no pay for attending Pension Fund meetings. If you attend a Pension conference, the airfare, hotel and any expenses related to the conference are reimbursed. Ballots will be mailed October 7-12, 2015, and must be returned by 9AM on the 22nd of October. The election vote count will be in the Pension Fund office on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

KENNETH A. HAUSER

Kenneth A. Hauser, Elected Trustee, President 

Source: Policemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago