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Being Retired – RTC meeting – info – Retiree Advocate

May 2, 2023 pm31 3:19 pm

Yesterday I went to my third Retired Teachers Meeting. I have class at Queens College, so I signed on remotely. It’s better in person. I like seeing people and talking to people. And I know if I have questions, I’ll find someone who can either answer it, or direct me to the right person. Last month I was in person. It was a lot more fun.

Plus, I had to sign off yesterday too early, so I missed most. I heard a presentation on avoiding on-line fraud. Then my class started.

There was a protest, one person held up one small sign, against Mulgrew’s Aetna/Medicare Advantage deal. The protest almost failed – no one at home could see them, almost no one (I learned later) in the room noticed them. But Tom Murphy to the rescue! He freaked out, screaming about the sign and demanding the member be removed from the hall – notifying everyone that there was a protest. Except me, I’d already signed off. But then I got texted (by someone who is NOT an opposition person) letting me know.

Getting Information

I stopped working in July, but only officially retired at the start of January. Being retired takes some work! And a lot of the work involves figuring out how to get good information.

I have had questions about health insurance (not this Medicare Advantage stuff, I’m too young), drug coverage, SHIP, Si Beagle. There are benefits, and I want to use them correctly. And I THINK I am figuring stuff out, but I don’t want to miss something, miss filing some form, and lose out on a benefit or a reimbursement, etc. Also, there’s retiree stuff, like recommendations for specialists, ideas about vacations, and how to get discounts.

Welfare Fund – mixed results. Even before I was officially retired, I’d had to reach out personally to get an issue resolved. And they were resolved. But the WF intentionally did not announce an increase in copays last fall. In retirement I had one question that got run through the Welfare Fund, and I got a completely wrong answer (later resolved, but not by the WF).

Main UFT number for retirees – they have to stop asking to update all my records before they will process a call. I don’t get why anyone puts up with the “call center.”

Pension – nothing but class here. Good, solid information. And follow up calls to make sure I was satisfied with the assistance I’d received.

Friends – this is hard. Some know the answers. Some think they know the answers. Everyone WANTS to be helpful. I’ll navigate better, with time.

UFT Official Retiree Facebook. OMG, the worst. The administrators have blocked me from asking questions, given me wrong information, stopped me from commenting, and refused to tell me who they are. I would have figured that this was a good place to get general pointers, and a good source for “who should I call if I have issue X?” But today, nope. This group should change its name, and let the RTC open a real Official UFT Retirees page. This one is an embarrassment.

Do I have a pension?

No. But soon. In the interim, I’m getting a check.

The check I am getting is called an “advance payment.” While they (TRS) are calculating my actual pension, they send me intentional underpayments, so that I am getting something. As far as I can tell, these payments are between 72% and 79% of what my pension will eventually be. It’s been enough to get by.

But it’s a little weird that it takes so long. I filed in December for a January 3 retirement. Advanced payments started February 28. And it looks like I’ll start with the actual pension May 31 (I hope). Taking five months seems like a lot. Except, it’s not really a problem. Just weird.

Once the pension starts, they will calculate the amount I should have been getting, and they will make the difference.

Also, once the pension starts, I should be looking for my first CAR payment – the sick days (half) and vacation days (all) that I had left when I filed. Those, afaik, come in three payments. I’m not sure how long I’ll wait for the first. Again though, not a problem. They will be nice as they arrive.

Back to the advanced payments/pension – these have many fewer deductions than my paycheck used to. Federal Taxes. UFT dues. Drug rider. That’s it. In fact, my net is over 80% of my gross. When I was teaching it was, depending on the year, and if I’d ramped up my TDA, I don’t know, 50%?

Chaz used to write about this stuff. I think many of us miss him, and his writing.

Retiree Advocate / UFT

I stopped working with New Action (over four years ago). Through writing and meeting I have had some contact with NAC, and with MORE, but I have not joined a caucus. During last year’s election campaign I got involved in the opposition coalition, and became the candidate for HS Vice President. (in the end, we won the 7 high school seats. And in my race, I won more high school votes than my opponent, but through rigged rules, lost the election).

In any case, I retired. And there is a retiree organization within the Retired Teachers Chapter that stands for more member voice and more progressive policies, and, frankly, for protecting retirees better. That is Retiree Advocate / UFT, and I joined, and have been participating.

Retiree Advocate has a website (it’s a work in progress). Take a look. It’s

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