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NRLN Works to Protect Your Retirement Security

The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) works to enact federal legislation to protect employer-sponsored pensions, health care benefits and keep Social Security and Medicare strong.

With support from more than 2 million members and Washington, D.C. staff, the NRLN identifies and rallies support for federal legislation that will guarantee fair and equitable treatment of retirees from the private and public sectors. Learn more about the NRLN and legislation important to retirees by clicking on the "About Us" and "Legislative" links above.

The NRLN recently created the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) with a mission is to research, educate and inform retirees, future retirees and the general public on how best to protect and promote retirement income security and retiree health care. Contributions to AREF are tax deductible.

To learn more about the AREF, go to www.SeniorsAREF.org .

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       BILL KADEREIT

PRESIDENT'S FORUM

Report Calls for More Disclosures in Lump Sum Offers

Gaining more disclosure for retirees by pension plan sponsors who offer a lump sum buyout to replace lifetime pension benefits has been an objective of the NRLN. U.S. Representative Sander Levin (MI-09), the Ranking Member on the House Ways and Means Committee, has announced that at his request the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report that lays out recommendations to ensure that pension plan participants have better information when offered lump sums. The report presents recommendations for the Departments of Labor (DoL) and Treasury, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and pension plans.

On behalf of the more than 2 million retirees represented by the NRLN and our 10,525 grassroots advocates in Michigan, I have sent a letter to Congressman Levin thanking him for his efforts and that of retired California Congressman George Miller that resulted in the GAO’s report.

Congressman Levin recognizes that pension plan de-risking through lump-sum buyout offers and the conversion of pensions to annuities purchased from insurance companies is of great concern to workers and retirees. His statement in his office’s news release was right on target that, “Plan participants must have all the information they need to make an informed decision about the long-term impact of a lump sum payment instead of a defined benefit on their retirement.”

In my letter to Congressman Levin, I cited this example. On Wednesday, Feb 3, I was with leaders of the Chrysler, General Motors and Lucent retiree organizations who met with 11 staff members of the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss pension plan de-risking and, in particular, Alcatel-Lucent’s announced intension to offer lump sum pension buyouts in 2015. The Lucent retirees expressed their concerns regarding the lack of specific disclosure requirements to fully explain the considerations for accepting or rejecting a lump sum offer and the resulting consequences that need to be considered. Other NRLN leaders from the Detroit Edison Alliance of Retirees (DEAR) attended and expressed the need for greater disclosure by plan sponsors as well. Our members are hopeful that EBSA, DoL, Treasury and the PBGC will act quickly as companies continue their de-risking efforts at a fast pace.

Congressman Levin’s news release noted that additional information from the GAO regarding de-risking strategies is anticipated in the coming months as it pursues its investigation into the trend of companies to de-risk their pension plan liabilities by either offering lump sum payments to plan participants or by transferring those liabilities to private companies who would in turn provide a replacement retirement annuity.

The GAO report, “Private Pensions: Participants Need Better Information When Offered Lump Sums that Replace Their Lifetime Benefits,” is available on GAO’s website http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-74 . It is estimated that nearly 200 pension plan sponsors implemented lump sum offers during 2012, and tens and maybe hundreds more plans were looking to de-risk through lump sum offers in the coming years.

The NRLN will continue to track actions taken by the federal agencies and pension plan sponsors to provide a greater degree of disclosure and protection for retirees. I want to thank those of you who have advocated the NRLN’s position on the need for more disclosures and especially thank the leaders of our organizations in Michigan who have met with Congressman Levin’s staff members the past several years.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network

NRLN IS WORKING FOR YOU

The NRLN regularly informs members by email about important information. If you did not receive an email with the NRLN President’s Forum message or an Action Alert posted on this home page, possibly you mistakenly “unsubscribed” on one of our emails or you have a new email address that is not in the NRLN’s database. You will no longer hear from us unless you “re-subscribe”. To “re-subscribe”, click here.


Positive News for Medicare Beneficiaries

The NRLN and our grassroots advocates have been lobbying members of Congress for legislative action to eliminate Medicare’s requirement that beneficiaries must be in a hospital as an “inpatient” for three-days to be eligible for skilled nursing facility (SNF) services. Beneficiaries are often unaware that a hospital has admitted them as an “outpatient under observation” status rather than as an “inpatient”. Those admitted as an “outpatient under observation” who later receive SNF services are often surprised when they are billed for the services that Medicare will not cover.

We have some positive news. The powerful House Ways and Means committee has passed H.R. 876 the “Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act” or known as the “Notice Act”. The bill still needs to be passed by the entire House, then the Senate and signed into law by the President. Read more...


action alert

Prevent Trans-Pacific Partnership from Raising Cost of Medicines

Negotiations by the Obama Administration on the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty to boost imports and exports have been taking place in secrecy. Information has leaked out that indicates big pharmaceutical companies have had sway in the dealings that would increase the cost of medicines at the expense of patients’ health and the budgets of consumers and governments. Click here to send the NRLN’s sample letter to your Representative and Senators urging them to prevent the TPP from raising cost of medicines.


report card NRLN Provides New “Report Card” Feature on Members of Congress

NRLN has introduced a “report card” for each state that shows whether the U.S. Representatives and Senators have supported bills in Congress advocated by the NRLN. Read all about it here.


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Read Fall 2014 NRLN FOCUS Newsletter


For recent mail from our members, click here.

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NRLN members are saving big with the Free Health Savings Rx Card℠

The NRLN has arranged to offer you a Health Savings Rx Card™, at NO COST, that offers you and your family savings on prescription drugs, plus vision and hearing services and products.Click here to access the Rx Savings Card℠ website.If you do not already have a Health Savings Rx Card℠ you will need to create your personal login and then printout your free card. Savings information for prescription drugs, vision and hearing services and products is available through the links under the Savings Plus tab.


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