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Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen “This week, I was honored to join Rep. John Garamendi at a press conference introducing the CPI-E Act of 2017. For too long, retirees have faced a cost-of-living adjustment that is calculated inaccurately. A move to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly to determine COLAs is a step in the right direction and I urge NARFE members to write their legislators in support of this bill. It is high time we implement this simple fix to a large problem for retirees.” Legislation Introduced to Change COLA Calculation This week, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen joined Rep. John Garamendi, D-CA, at a press conference introducing the CPI-E Act of 2017 (H.R. 1251). This bill would require the use of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) instead of the current Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) when determining annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security, federal annuities and veterans’ benefits. NARFE applauds the introduction of this bill. The current COLA calculation fails to accurately measure seniors’ spending, especially in the area of health care. In 2016, health care inflation was 4.1 percent, while the CPI-W indicated the average price of consumer goods increased only 0.3 percent. For those over the age of 62, 12 percent of their spending goes toward health care, on average, while the general population spends just 5 percent. In a statement at the press conference, Thissen said, “The fact that we do not use the CPI-E already is shocking. Instead, cost-of-living adjustments for seniors collecting Social Security and federal civilian or military retirement benefits are based on the costs experienced by ‘urban wage earners and clerical workers.’ They are not based on the costs experienced by retired individuals.” You can read Thissen’s full remarks here. The bill currently has 24 cosponsors and has been submitted to multiple House committees for consideration. NARFE urges its members to send a letter to their legislators asking them to cosponsor the legislation. Use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to send a letter. GPO and WEP Full Repeal Bill Introduced Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL, introduced the Social Security Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 1205), a bill that would repeal both the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). NARFE has long opposed these unfair penalties and supports repeal of both provisions. The GPO prevents federal retirees who receive a government annuity based on their own work in employment not covered by Social Security from collecting full Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work. In this situation, their earned Social Security spousal or survivor benefits are reduced by two-thirds of their non-Social Security-covered annuity. The WEP greatly reduces the Social Security benefit of federal retirees who worked in Social Security-covered employment and who also receive an annuity based on their non-Social Security-covered government job. More information on the bill, including its 84 cosponsors, can be found here. A letter urging your representative to cosponsor this bill can be found in the Action Center. DOL Proposes Delay to the Fiduciary Rule The Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule to extend by 60 days the applicability date for defining who is a “fiduciary” when providing retirement investment advice, delaying the full implementation of the “conflict of interest” or “fiduciary” rule. Last month, President Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Labor Department to review the rule to determine whether it should be rescinded or revised. The fiduciary rule requires investment advisers to put their clients’ best interests first when giving investment advice. NARFE supported the rule and is deeply disappointed by the president’s action. Read NARFE’s full statement in support of the fiduciary rule here. The applicability date for defining who is considered a “fiduciary” was slated for April 10, 2017. The proposed rule would push that date back to June 9, 2017. This is one of the first steps in the process that could lead to the demise of the rule. Before the proposed rule becomes final, DOL must engage in a “notice and comment” period, allowing the public to express its views on the action. NARFE members are encouraged to write a formal comment to DOL urging them to oppose any delay in the applicability date of the fiduciary rule. A comment can be easily made by going here. Make Your Voice Heard in Congress NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use NARFE Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes. Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues. The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees! Obtaining the Hotline This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 703-838-7780 and toll-free at 877-217-8234. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Are you ready to take action?

You’ve seen the headlines. You’ve heard the rhetoric. You know the threats. But you may be unsure of what you can do to fight back. Never fear, NARFE is here!

NARFE recently unveiled its NEW Legislative Action Center for NARFE members to easily take action to protect their earned pay and benefits.

Use the Action Center to do the following:

  • Send action letters to Congress and state legislators
  • Learn more about legislation NARFE is tracking
  • Record your advocacy actions
  • If you’re ready to take action, this is the place to do it! The Action Center makes it easy for you to become an advocate. NARFE’s template letters can be quickly sent to your legislators with a click of a button.

    Have more to say? Customize the letters to make your voice more powerful. Make sure that your elected officials hear how legislation would affect you – a personalized letter goes a long way in supporting your stance on policy proposals.

    State advocacy is another powerful feature of the Legislative Action Center. NARFE federations now have the capacity to orchestrate state-level campaigns targeted to their governors or state legislators. As on the federal level, you can target the NARFE message to exactly the right state legislators based on your ZIP code and street address. As just one example, NARFE’s Iowa Federation is supporting a bill in the Iowa Legislature to gradually increase the state income tax exemption for eligible seniors. Want to do something similar? The new Legislative Action Center is the place to take action!

    Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form. Your advocacy, and reporting of those efforts, helps us fine-tune our lobbying on Capitol Hill.

    The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at leg@narfe.org.

    Thank you,
    NARFE's Legislative Department

    No COLA means big increase in Medicare Part B premiums for retired feds: NARFE urges members to take action! (10/20/2015)

    NARFE’s prediction that there would be no 2016 cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees, military retirees and Social Security beneficiaries was confirmed last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, those who pay their Medicare Part B premiums out of their Civil Service Retirement System annuity are facing a whopping 52 percent increase in their premiums. The “hold harmless” provision in the Social Security Act states that the dollar increase in the Part B premium is limited to the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security benefit. With no COLA, an estimated 70 percent of beneficiaries will be held harmless, meaning, for most, their Part B premium will remain stable at $104.90. This leaves 30 percent of beneficiaries, including CSRS retirees who do not receive Social Security benefits, to shoulder the full cost of the 2016 premium increase, resulting in a projected premium increase of 52 percent, from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. If that wasn’t bad enough, FEHBP premiums also are increasing more than 7 percent for enrollees.

    Legislation has been introduced to guarantee that all Medicare beneficiaries pay the same Part B premiums in 2016 that they paid in 2015, but Congress must hear from you! Tell your members of Congress that you shouldn’t have to pay more in Medicare premiums just because your premiums don’t come from Social Security.

    Help protect federal retirees! Send an email now or call the Capitol Switchboard, toll-free, at 1-866-220-0044 to tell Congress to take action on H.R. 3696 and S. 2148 to make sure that everyone is held harmless in 2016.

    Here is a link to the NARFE web site for additional information.