In the closing days of the session, a number of ethics reforms were up for consideration, including several proposed state constitutional amendments that would strip convicted lawmakers of their public pensions. In several versions, public employees — including UFT members employed by the Department of Education, police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers — were included in the resolutions, as were other dangerous provisions that would have further eroded pension protections.
Because our union was vigilant, our elected officials made the right — and fair — call: The final legislation included only elected officials and high-ranking administrative appointees who commit a felony related to their public service. If the Legislature passes the same amendment in the next two years, the proposal will go on the ballot to voters.
When it comes to our pensions and our financial security, we cannot be too careful. Our pensions are part of our compensation package. We earn them every day we work, educating the children of New York City.
Summer pension service
The UFT will have pension staff available during July and August for telephone inquiries from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at union headquarters. Retired members may call 1-212-598-9536. In-service members may call 1-212-598-6866.
In-person consultations are not available during the summer. Exceptions are made for those members who need immediate attention such as a member who is retiring on disability. Full service resumes when school reopens.
Protect your identity from thieves
When you see ads about identity theft on TV, it may seem like something that happens to other people. But identity theft could happen to you as easily as to anyone.
While you can’t protect yourself 100 percent of the time, here are some things you can do.
- Delete emails that ask for personal information and keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.
- Shop online at secure web pages. Check the bottom of your browser for an icon of a lock or look to see if the website address begins with “https.” That “s” at the end means it’s secure.
- Never email credit card or Social Security numbers or other personal information.
- Secure your “snail” mail. Make sure you quickly empty your mailbox. If you’re not going to be home for a few days, make sure someone collects your mail for you.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you. Memorize the number or encode it on a piece of paper to carry with you.
- Never give personal information to telemarketers or anyone claiming to be from your bank, credit card issuer, a government agency or a charity. No legitimate organization will ever ask for your Social Security number on the phone.
You can easily find out if your identity has been stolen by regularly checking with the three major credit information-gathering agencies: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. A federal law requires that each of the three agencies provide you with a free credit report annually. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to get this report. (A free annual credit report does not include credit scores.)
It’s advisable to contact one of the agencies every four months. For instance, you could contact one of them in September, a second in January and the third in May. That way, you can regularly keep an eye on your credit status and get the reports for free as well.
Summer to-do list
Summer is a good time to set up a file of important pension-related papers, accessible to a trusted person. The file should include:
- Up-to-date “Designation of Beneficiary” forms for both the Qualified Pension Plan (QPP) and the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) program;
- The most recent Annual Benefit Statement, which, among other items, has a record of credited service and a list of beneficiaries;
- The most recent Quarterly Account Statement for your pension plans and your TDA; and
- Documents related to retirement including any information on pension-tier changes or other TRS correspondence.
Take advantage of your benefits
As a TRS member, you’re automatically enrolled in the Qualified Pension Plan, which will provide you with a future retirement allowance. However, the TDA program is an optional, supplemental retirement plan exclusively for TRS members that allows you to build a healthy nest egg with pretax contributions.
Visit www.trsnyc.org to enroll, and check out the “TDA Summary: Fund Profiles” booklet and the online TDA calculator.
Note to paraprofessionals: You are not automatically enrolled in TRS. You must enroll in TRS before you may participate in the TDA program
|The unit value is computed during the latter part of each month. This table reflects the most recent values.|