Ed Messina, Sandra Bove, ARTC Legislative Committee Co-Chair, Tom Singleton, and Cathy D’Agostino, Legislative Committee Co-Chair at the LOB (Legislative Office Building) in Hartford.
Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut
The Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut (ARTC) is a non-profit organization of retired teachers that represent 6,000 members/affiliates and advocates for 32,000 CT retired teachers.
ARTC’s primary concerns center on the financial security of our pension and health insurance benefits. Our goals are to work toward:
* Maintaining our pension system and preserving its COLA
* Eliminating the state income tax on retired teachers’ pensions
* Securing the State’s promised 1/3 contribution to our health insurance premium account (HIPA)
* Repealing the U.S. Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP).
Connecticut Is No Longer One of Five States that Fully Taxes State Pensions
Upon retirement, 26% of Connecticut retired teachers choose to move to other states, states where their income is not heavily taxed or not taxed at all. This is a money drain on Connecticut. The Governor’s proposal for a tax exclusion on retired teacher pensions was passed by legislators and will move forward—10% exclusion in 2015, 25% in 2016 and 50% in 2017. This brings taxation of our pensions more in line with tax on Social Security and pensions in other states.
Connecticut teachers contribute to their retirement fund all their working years. They do not have the choice of paying into Social Security nor are they part of Connecticut Employees State Pension System. Any adverse effects to the SS COLA will affect CT retired teachers. For most CT retired teachers, pension COLA is based on the SS COLA. Therefore, any reduction in the SS COLA will reduce pension benefits.
Connecticut is One of Fifteen States Adversely Affected by the GPO/WEP
The GPO/WEP has turned into an unfair and regressive tax on thousands of teachers and municipal workers throughout the country. It is an unfair federal law that has resulted in discrimination mainly against widowed women. Because of this law, retired teachers who contributed to SS during employment outside of public education do not receive their full SS benefits. Most receive approximately 1/3 of their earned SS benefits because they taught in the State of Connecticut.
Teachers’ Contributions to the Retirement System
Mandatory Contributions as Active Teachers:
6% to Retirement Fund
1.25% Health Insurance Premium Account (HIPA)
Contribution to Medicare Part A (Federal mandate as of April 1, 1986)
Present Retiree Costs for Health Insurance
Teacher retirees who do not have Medicare coverage pay approximately $400 up to $1,200 per person per month (varies with coverage and local boards of education contracts). Retirees who purchase their supplement through Stirling Benefits (not including dental, eye and hearing) pay $91per month plus their Medicare costs. Retirees’ monthly premium costs coupled with monies paid from their HIPA fund result in retired teachers paying the bulk of their own insurance coverage.
Health Insurance Premium Account History (HIPA)
1989 – 1990 Insurance costs – 75% paid by HIPA and 25% paid by State, no cost to retiree (Cost $86)
1996 – Solvency of Health Plan in trouble (Due to increased insurance costs and more retirees)
2000 – 25% of insurance costs shifted to the retiree
2003 – Active teacher contributions to HIPA increased to 1.25% from 1%
2004 – State/HIPA/Retiree 1/3 Plan of contributions
2010 – No ⅓ contribution from State to HIPA
2011 – No ⅓ contribution from State to HIPA
2012 –Full Contribution including Medicare reimbursements to HIPA
2012- Statute passed allowing State to use Medicare reimbursements toward its promised contributions.
2013 & 2014 – State’s contribution reduced from ⅓ to ¼. Medicare reimbursements used as part of the State’s contribution, reducing the State’s contribution to approximately ⅛. HIPA makes up the difference, resulting in no premium increases for retirees, but a significant draw down of HIPA funds
2014 – TRB received approval to create a Teachers Retirement Board Healthcare Trust Fund
2015 – State contribution considerably lower than the promised 1/3.