Saturday, February 10, 2007

Another retiree's experience with Caremark

From a retiree, February 9, 2007
Subject: Re: Prednisone: Phyllis' letter to Caremark

Please be aware from my experience companies like Caremark only do what the people that are paying them O.K., (STRS) for example. My sister who I recently talked to said she gets her medication from Caremark and has never had a problem with anything. Her huband and her medications are always on time etc. I told her I have never received an order that is correct and all the problems I've had receiving the wrong prescriptions and not the necessary critical supplies with medications.

She said call your employer or in this case STRS. She says people who worked for a very large company like her husband has a number to call their employer and it is immediately remedied. From my experience with prescription insurance, I would say STRS is calling the shots even though they are acting like they're doing everything to help. I think STRS is continually make adjustments without our knowledge. How do I know this is possible with these companies or STRS? Because my own school did the same thing and I got a quorum to ask our local association to sue and return our contracted insurance to us. When I researched, the school changed our contracted benefits without our knowledge. When teachers asked the school administration if they did this, they would deny it. I called someone in the insurance company who told the truth. We then sued to get our benefits back.

I was also told by Caremark because I couldn't take generic of a drug that it could be filled namebrand and I would pay for it if the doctor said namebrand. I believe I should not be punished because I cannot take a certain medication and neither should Phyllis. I don't think Caremark or STRS has a right to make that decision. This is a medical decision and if they are doing this my opinion is they are practicing medicine without a license. Which of course would be illegal.

Donna Thorp to Molly Janczyk: One retiree's experience with Caremark

Donna Thorp to Molly Janczyk, February 10, 2007
Subject: Phyllis' letter to Caremark
TO: Donna Thorp-Concerned Ohio Retired Teachers (CORE)
FROM: Phyllis Newton-Ohio Retired Teacher
RE: Caremark-company that manages STRS prescription drug program
DATE: February 5, 2007
I received a 90 day supply prescription drug refill of Prednisone (Img) which I noticed was manufactured by Jubilant P (an India company) instead of ones manufactured by Roxane (these I have been using for several years). I contacted Caremark on Dec. 12, 2006 and was informed by a pharmacist that STRS had decided, due to cost concerns, that this was the drug to be dispensed and that quality control was assured.
On Dec. 13, 2006 I began to take the pills and on Dec. 14, 2006 I began to experience extreme nausea (24/7) but I continued to take the pills until Dec. 19,2006. I then contacted my rheumatologist and obtained a prescription for Prednisone (1 mg) manufactured by Roxane from my local pharmacy and no longer experienced nausea.
On Dec. 26, 2006 I wrote to Caremark regarding my problem and returned all remaining pills (a count of several hundred). In an accompanying letter I asked Caremark to contact me regarding my inability to use Prednisone (1 mg) supplied by Jubilant P. I also sent a copy of this letter to STRS.
I received a letter from a STRS health care representative, dated January 5, 2007, in which she stated that she had contacted Caremark and they were asked "to research my issue and respond expediently to my concerns". Also spoke with this representative around Jan. 17, 2007.
After not hearing from Caremark in a time period of approximately 3 weeks, I contacted Caremark again and was told that they had no record of my letter and no record of receiving the hundreds of unused pills. I sent them another copy of the letter around Jan. 17, 2007.
Still not hearing from Caremark I contacted them again on Jan. 29, 2007 and was told there was no record of any communication or of pills received from me. A pharmacy technician informed me that Roxane no longer manufactured Prednisone (1 mg) and that Jubilant pills were the only ones available. She also told me that someone from Caremark would call me regarding my returning the unused pills.
To date I have not heard from Caremark I am extremely concerned as to the location of these pills. I also told this individual that I believed I should be reimbursed for this medication. On the same day (1.17.07) I contacted my local pharmacist who informed me that as of that date he was still receiving Prednisone (1 mg) from Roxane and that his experience was that Caremark believes "you do things their way or hit the highway". A person who works for another one of my doctors said that "Caremark is the worst company with which to work".
On Jan. 29, 2007 I talked with the STRS health care representative. She called me back on Jan. 31, 2007 and explained to me that her manager told her to inform me that since Prednisone (1 mg) is still available from Caremark that no exceptions can be made implying that if I wanted to use the pill from Roxane that does not make me ill that I would need to use my local pharmacy. Since Prednisone (1 mg) is a fairly inexpensive medication there is not a lot of difference in obtaining this drug from Caremark or my local pharmacy.
My concern is that STRS will not approve my receiving a 90 day supply of a drug that I can take which makes me spend more money, however small, at my local pharmacy. What if this was an expensive medication and a retiree developed a reaction to the medication? Would the position of STRS be the same?
I do not believe that this is how our prescription drug plan is supposed to work. We are supposed to be saving money, not spending more. I do want to say that the STRS health care representative and everyone I spoke with at Caremark (with the exception of the Dec. 12 pharmacist) were very courteous and responsive to my concerns. Management seems to be the problem. This entire episode leaves me with 2 great concerns:
...1. Caremark showing a lack of concern to my problem by not responding to my letters, phone calls and my deep concern regarding the status of the pills I returned to them.
...2. The refusal of STRS to help me obtain my medication at a lower cost to me (even how small this cost is).

Janczyk, Jones & Cox re: HC costs and 13th check

From Molly Janczyk, February 9, 2007
Subject: HC: IF ONLY..............................
I retired with $33 for HC for me and my husband. From then till now, we pay $744 for both of us for HC.
I have cleared approx. $70 each year additonal to my pension cks. as they never raise being simple COLA.
$70 more a month each year leaves me a growing deficit as this year alone HC raised $100 for premiums for us both. Of course, we are further behind as costs have risen each year and this is just for this year not meeting the deficits for all 8 years since I retired in '99.
Increased gas, food, clothes, utilities, puts me further in a hole every year.
We are the only group that decreases in benefits each year.
I retired being told we had HC second to none and we'd never have to worry about HC. We were discouraged from purchasing other insurance plans by STRS HC Pamphlets. We were told to choose the best HC for our family with STRS back then being the best. We did as we were told.
I paid $396 in '99 for HC for the year total at $33 x 12 cks. = $396.
I received about $70 COLA increase each year each ck over the past 8 yrs.
$70 COLA x 12 cks = $840 increase each year x 8 yrs. = $6720 COLA additional pay to me in 8 yrs.
My HC costs have risen to $744 per month just for premiums, 20% copays additional up to $1500 each and $500 deduc. each vs. 100% STRS paid when I retired with us paying 0 copays.
$744 monthly x 12 cks = $8928 we pay yearly just for premiums, $500 each for deductibles = $1000, and my husband always meets his out of pockets due to health conditions at $1500.
'99: $396 (premiums) '07: $8928 (premiums)
Plus $1000 for 2 deductibles, plus $1500 out of pocket.
'07: $8928 + $1000 + $ $1500 = $11,428 just for medical.
We used to pay $5 and $10 for RX's for 90 days. We now pay $25, 75, 125 for
90 days based on generic, accepted name brand and high end name brand. We need prior approvals for our Dr.s to prescribe to us.
I allow $300 a month from my budget to cover RX's up to $2000 each. My husband will meet his out of pocket as he always does due to all the meds he takes for several life altering conditions. $200 a month for him for 10 months = his $2000 out of pocket until he is on STRS 100% pay for the remainder of the year. $100 for me for 12 months = $1200.
(I have acquired high blood pressure and acid reflux SINCE retiring due to stress of all this and have hereditary high cholesterol, normal wear and tear arthritis needing attention at times, as well as some other issues to do with hormones, etc.)
That totals $3600 per year for RX's added to te $11,428 HC costs.
$15,028 for annual HC costs now over '99: $396 + approx. $125 monthly for RX's to = $521.
$15,028 : '07 (medical and RX)
.....521 : '99 (medical and RX)
$14,507 ADDITIONAL HC COSTS SINCE '99 retiring
I have received that simple 3% COLA over 8 yrs totalling $6720 for all 8 yrs.
$14,045 HC costs JUST FOR 2007
..6,720 (TOTAL amount of money rec'd for COLAS over 8 years)
..7,325 loss without considering the other 7 years.
Now, go back over 7 other years above and beyond this year's loss and add that to the deficit of $7,325 . Each year going back will be a little less loss due to each years premiums being a bit less but still hugely jumping each year.
Retirees with spouse retired just for 8 years have lost upwards from $28,000 since retiring in income IF THEY HAVE ONLY EXPERIENCED $3000 increases per year. This is a low assessement, however, just to make a point without everyone's real outlay. More realistically, we have paid $2500 edging up to $14,000 for some and others not meeting the $1500 out of pocket nor receiving so many RX's though the average home has 20 RX's. So, up to $11,000. So, the average is closer to $8000 increase in HC costs vs. $3000 year FOR NON MEDICARE RECIPIENTS.
Take the $7,325 above + just $3000 a yr increase of HC costs on average to =
7 yrs x $3000 = $21,000 costs over retirement pensions. The COLAS were considered for all 8 yrs.
Add inflation to this loss and then consider where retirees are 'adjusting' as Herb Dyer said to me. We have nothing to adjust with except homes, refusing meds, treatments and for those able going back to work to pay for HC. We have lost our retirements and will never recover in our lifetimes coupled with our own stock market losses and use of financial security funds.
We have nothing to look forward to except more increases, worry over how long we can work or at least make it to Medicare. Speaking of Medicare, those folks now have to pay: $313 for their spouse. This is compounded by lower pensions due to retiring before those not on Medicare and so less ability to pay. STRS said it would BILL any whose pension did not cover HC premiums.
We continue to hear: "We have to make those tough decisions" which translates to more pain for retirees. I hope that every employee and STRS Board Member is fighting hard to pass HCA legislation and that every active understands that this is YOUR future if legislation does not pass.
How grateful we would have been to have been asked BEFORE making our irrevocable decisions to retire if we'd be willing to contribute $50 per ck NOW to offset untendable HC costs robbing us of our retirements now. It is the ONLY way to have HC in the future and a small price to pay to have an actual retirement as salaries are now so high to average the last 3 yrs with the ability to go for 35 yrs at 88%! We would have jumped at these opportunities and our only error was we were born too soon.
We will not be helped by HCA legislation as HC is funded to 2021. Most of us will be dead. We will unfortunately have to figure out how to last that long having our security stolen and trying to find ways to meet costs. IF ONLY, I could turn back that clock, work till I had 35 yrs and really retire. IF ONLY I had the opportunity to pay a few dollars ahead to secure my retirement. IF ONLY....................
RH Jones to Molly & Pat, February 9, 2007
Subject: Re: Fw: In defense of the 13th check. Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 10:17:00 -0500

Pat & Molly,
It has been 7-yrs. since we've had a 13th ck. or an Ad Hoc legislative increase in our base. Higher HC costs, fuel costs and other inflationary increases are hurting. We are not keeping up.
I don't want Ohio's teachers in Soc. Security but they get bi-yearly COLA increases. We get just a once per year 3% simple COLA. The 13th ck. helped us to stay even. Recent STRS retired educators have retired at a much greater income that those of us who have been out a few years or more. In the future, active professional educators will retire just like us. They need to get behind & push for the 5% employee/employer increase in the STRS HC contribution.
From Molly Janczyk, February 8, 2007
Subject: RE: Fw: In defense of the 13th check.

Thank you for your input, Pat. We know retirees lose more money each year with such increases and only a set simple COLA which doesn't come close to meeting costs and inflation.
Pat Cox to Molly Janczyk, February 8, 2007
Subject: Fw: In defense of the 13th check.

Dear Bob and Molly -
Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of us retirees. Another idea to consider about that 13th check: Those who have been retired for ten years or more are really in need of an extra check. When you see the monthly checks that recently retired teachers are receiving in comparison with what earlier retirees are receiving, you see a HUGE income difference. Of course, they earned more by the end of their careers which entitles them to those larger checks, but older retirees could certainly use an extra check to pay for the large increases in co- payments and deductibles and whatever. That COLA amount is sad.


Friday, February 09, 2007

NOTICE: CORE/Damon meeting scheduled for February 9; questions must be submitted by February 13

Announcement from Dave Parshall, CORE President
February 9, 2007
To: CORE/Damon committee members and all interested persons
Our next meeting with Damon is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 1:00 pm. He has a commitment in the morning. I plan on being there to eat by 11:30 am. We can discuss anything we need to while we eat. Questions for Damon need to be sent to me in a hurry by Feb. 13 for me to get them sent to Damon in time for a written response. Sorry about the short notice but I have been waiting for Damon to confirm for two weeks. He was busy with retreat business.
Please send your questions to

RH Jones: Our STRS funds are not for political issues

From RH Jones, February 9, 2007
Reminder. our STRS funds are not for political issues.
To all:
Our STRS funds under ORC 3307.15 are solely for the members.
As reported from the Jan. 31 STRS Bd. Retreat I quote: "The IFS audit indicated to the ORSC that only five of the 45 investment recommendations are KEY. STRS staff agrees on all five KEY investment recommendations." I have a problem with: "...staff agrees..." and #4 "Articulate criteria in broker evaluation for selecting women/minority/Ohio brokers."
I understand the political pressures that all of the Ohio public pension systems are having with the women/minority activist groups; BUT, our STRS of Ohio was founded to provide solely for the retirement of educators --- by the way, most of whom are women, and many are minority. Sidelining investment money solely for the benefit of women/minority brokers in this case is out of the question, if not unlawful. The STRS members who are women and minority educators would be hurt by this ill-conceived thinking just as much as any other educator. Rightly, I suspect women and minority educators would agree with me on this.
Recently, in an Akron speech, an activist, Mr. Andrew Young, (An Ex-Mayor of Atlanta) mentioned that more Ohio public retirement funds should go to minority brokers. I would have liked to have been at that speech to remind him that one of the wealthiest brokers in America happens to be black, and was homeless at one time.(His name escapes me unfortunately; however, verification can be made by reading last Sunday's Beacon Journal.) The almost disparate need is that our STRS funds go to the broker who can give us the highest return on our dollar. Educators, for the most part, can not afford the luxury of allocating our very hard earned retirement money to any broker who may be sub-par.
AND, to think that our STRS staff would agree to the #4 of the investment recommendations astounds me, and is beyond the pale. And, further, they were just given a 3% raise -- may I remind them their raise compounds, also. Unfortunately, our 3% COLA does not.
STRS staff, do your homework! Please know that you are "the bread of life" for us retired educators. We expect better of you and know that you will correct this error. As you know, the IFS and the ORSC has been prone to error, as has all of us.
Robert Hudson Jones, retired STRS member, and proud to be a CORE

RH Jones: A message from Rep. Brian G. Williams

From RH Jones, February 9, 2007
Subject: Fw: A Message From Rep. Brian G. Williams
To all:
Spaces are quickly running out. If you are going you must call or e-mail Abe Zaidan ( very soon. I will be there to represent CORE.
Lyn Falk to Bob Jones, February 9, 2007
Subject: RE: A Message From Rep. Brian G. Williams
He will be glad to see you
Lyn Falk,
Legislative Aide
Ohio House District 41
Brian G. Williams, State Representative
Serving parts of Akron, Bath, Boston Hgts., Copley, Cuyahoga Falls, Fairlawn, Macedonia, Northfield, Norton, Peninsula, Richfield, Reminderville, Sagamore Hills and Twinsburg
Fax: 614-719-6941
RH Jones to Lyn Falk and Brian G. Williams, February 9, 2007
Subject: Re: A Message From Rep. Brian G. Williams
Lyn & Brian,
I, Bob Jones, have a reservation for the Press Club luncheon next Monday. Mr. Zaiden said to get there early that it is filled up!
You will definitely have a friendly face there, me. If there would be any question you'd like me to ask Kevin, to "put him on the spot", let me know.
A Message From Rep. Brian G. Williams
Friday, February 2, 2007
Dear Friends:
I am writing to advise each of you of the up-coming Akron Press Club luncheon when I will be featured along with Senator Kevin Coughlin to discuss state politics and the 127th General Assembly. It should be fun and I would REALLY like to see some friendly faces in the audience. You can learn all about it at /
If your schedule permits please mark your calendar for Monday, February 12 at 11:45 at the Martin Center (Reservations Requested)...Hope to see you there.
Thank you.
Brian G. Williams
State Representative
House District 41

Directions to Martin University Center, Akron

Martin University Center

105 Fir Hill Street, Akron 44304

Click here for >>>
Door to Door Directions from Mapquest

FROM THE SOUTH (e.g., Canton)
Drive north on I-77 N. At Central Interchange, get in lane for Route 8 North (Cuyahoga Falls). Take Exit 125 A Buchtel Ave. (careful, this exit comes immediately after you pass through the Central Interchange). Turn left onto Carroll Street. Turn right at Spicer Street/Fountain Street. Turn left onto Buchtel Ave. Turn right onto Fir Hill. Martin Center is at 105 Fir Hill Street (on your right).

FROM THE NORTH (e.g., Cuyahoga Falls)
Drive south on Route 8. Exit at Route 59 Perkins Street (Downtown). Turn right onto Perkins Street. Turn left onto Union Street. Turn left onto E. Exchange Street. Turn right onto Fir Hill Street. Continue south on Fir Hill, crossing Forge Street. Martin Center is at 105 Fir Hill Street (on your left).

FROM THE EAST (e.g., Goodyear Heights)
Drive west on I-76. At Central Interchange, take Route 8 North (Cuyahoga Falls). Take Exit 125 A Buchtel Ave. Turn left onto Carroll Street. Turn right at Spicer Street/Fountain Street. Turn left onto Buchtel Ave. Turn right onto Fir Hill. Martin Center is at 105 Fir Hill Street (on your right).

FROM THE WEST (e.g., Fairlawn)
Drive east on I-77. As you are approaching downtown Akron, take Route 59 East (the Martin Luther King Innerbelt). Exit at W. Market Street. Turn right onto Market Street, crossing Main Street and several other streets. After crossing Union Street, turn right onto Fir Hill Street. Continue south on Fir Hill, crossing Forge Street. Martin Center is at 105 Fir Hill Street (on your left).

From west Akron, drive east on Market Street. After crossing Union Street, turn right onto Fir Hill. OR From east Akron, drive west on Market Street. After crossing Forge Street, turn left onto Fir Hill. THEN Continue south on Fir Hill, crossing Forge Street. Martin Center is at 105 Fir Hill Street (on your left).

Shirlee Zerkel: Some answers from Gary Russell -- but what about the 334?

Shirlee Zerkel to Gary Russell, February 9, 2007
Subject: RE: Questions about 65 and over retirees
Thank you for a prompt answer. I have another question concerning the figures that you sent to me. You stated a total of 59,962 using STRS health care. But using the figures when I total the members on both Medicare A and B (52,100) with the members who only have Medicare Part B (7,528), the total is 59,628. The difference is 334 benefit recipients. What program are those 334 benefit recipients on because I understood that we all had to have Medicare B to be covered properly with STRS supplemental.
Thank you,

From Gary Russell, February 9, 2007
Subject: RE: Questions about 65 and over retirees
Here are the numbers you requested as of Jan. 31, 2007:
.....1. There are 59,962 benefit recipients age 65 or older with STRS Ohio health care coverage.
.....2. 52,100 have Medicare parts A & B
.....3. 13,894 spouses have Medicare parts A & B
.....4. 7,528 benefit recipients have Medicare part B only
.....5. 370 spouses have Medicare part B only.
I hope this information helps,
Gary Russell
Director, Member Services

Sen. John Edwards' health care plan

Edwards Gets It Right
February 9, 2007
New York Times
What a difference two years makes! At this point in 2005, the only question seemed to be how much of America’s social insurance system — the triumvirate of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the Bush administration would manage to dismantle. Now almost all prominent Democrats and quite a few Republicans pay at least lip service to calls for a major expansion of social insurance, in the form of universal health care.
But fine words, by themselves, mean nothing. Remember “compassionate conservatism?” I won’t trust presidential candidates on health care unless they provide enough specifics to show both that they understand the issues, and that they’re willing to face up to hard choices when necessary.
And former Senator John Edwards has just set a fine example.
At first glance, the Edwards health care plan looks similar to several other proposals out there, including one recently unveiled by Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. But a closer look reveals extra features in the Edwards plan that take it a lot closer to what the country really needs.
Like Mr. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Edwards sets out to cover the uninsured with a combination of regulation and financial aid. Right now, many people are uninsured because, as the Edwards press release puts it, insurance companies “game the system to cover only healthy people.” So the Edwards plan, like Schwarzenegger’s, imposes “community rating” on insurers, basically requiring them to sell insurance to everyone at the same price.
Many other people are uninsured because they simply can’t afford the cost. So the Edwards plan, again like other proposals, offers financial aid to help lower-income families buy insurance. To pay for this aid, he proposes rolling back tax cuts for households with incomes over $200,000 a year.
Finally, some people try to save money by going without coverage, so if they get sick they end up in emergency rooms at public expense. Like other plans, the Edwards plan would “require all American residents to get insurance,” and would require that all employers either provide insurance to their workers or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a government fund used to buy insurance.
But Mr. Edwards goes two steps further.
People who don’t get insurance from their employers wouldn’t have to deal individually with insurance companies: they’d purchase insurance through “Health Markets”: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf. People would, in effect, be buying insurance from the government, with only the business of paying medical bills — not the function of granting insurance in the first place — outsourced to private insurers.
Why is this such a good idea? As the Edwards press release points out, marketing and underwriting — the process of screening out high-risk clients — are responsible for two-thirds of insurance companies’ overhead. With insurers selling to government-run Health Markets, not directly to individuals, most of these expenses should go away, making insurance considerably cheaper.
Better still, “Health Markets,” the press release says, “will offer a choice between private insurers and a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare.” This would offer a crucial degree of competition. The public insurance plan would almost certainly be cheaper than anything the private sector offers right now — after all, Medicare has very low overhead. Private insurers would either have to match the public plan’s low premiums, or lose the competition.
And Mr. Edwards is O.K. with that. “Over time,” the press release says, “the system may evolve toward a single-payer approach if individuals and businesses prefer the public plan.”
So this is a smart, serious proposal. It addresses both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system. And every candidate should be pressed to come up with something comparable.
Yes, that includes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So far, all we have from Mr. Obama is inspiring rhetoric about universal care — that’s great, but how do we get there? And how do we know whether Mrs. Clinton, who says that she’s “not ready to be specific,” and that she wants to “build the consensus first,” will really be willing to take on this issue again?
To be fair, these are still early days. But America’s crumbling health care system is our most important domestic issue, and I think we have a right to know what those who would be president propose to do about it.

Tom Cooper: An article on Personal Responsibility

From Tom Cooper, February 9, 2007
Subject: Personal Responsibility
To Molly and Kathie;
With our recent commentary turning an eye on Medicare, I wanted to pass along a FREE news letter that I subscribe to concering Medicare Rights Advocacy called "Asclepios". At 63, I am not yet ready to take the time to understand all of the provisions and intricacies, but I am sure there are many who have questions, as I am sure I and my wife soon will.
I am sending the most recent newsletter and asking you you post it on your e-mail list and blog site. Of course many may already also be subscribers, but others may find it interesting and informative, and they may also wish to sign up for regular reception. The enclosed newsletter tells how to join up.
Your Weekly Medicare Consumer Advocacy Update

Personal Responsibility
February 8, 2007 • Volume 7, Issue 6
The Bush administration wants high-and moderate-income people with Medicare to pay higher premiums for Part D drug coverage and expand the number of people having to do so for Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services.
It is a bad idea that in the long run will undermine the Medicare program.
Starting this year, the same law that gave us Part D forces individuals earning more than $80,000 ($160,000 for couples) to pay higher Part B premiums as Medicare reduces the portion it pays. (Historically, Medicare has paid 75 percent of the monthly cost of Part B for everyone in the program.)
In the budget proposed to Congress this week, the Bush administration recommended extending that policy to Part D.
Worse, the Bush budget would over time raise the monthly Part B and Part D premiums for increasing numbers of moderate-income older adults and people with disabilities. This will happen because the budget proposes to stop indexing the income thresholds to inflation. As the value of the dollar shrinks year-to-year and an $80,000 income that looks ample now buys a lot less food, medical care and housing, the higher monthly premiums will start to hit more and more middle-class people with Medicare.
The problem, however, is not just the pinch that middle-class people with Medicare—who already pay between 15 and 30 percent of their incomes on health care—will feel from higher premiums. It is not just that the proposal would impose a form of double taxation on people who already paid more into the Medicare system because their Medicare and income taxes were higher during their working years.
The problem is that this proposal transforms Medicare from a universal benefit that is the same for all older adults and people with disabilities into a welfare program that helps the poor but provides scant benefits for the middle class and those better off. This will inevitably weaken the near-universal political support for Medicare, making it easier in the future to further reduce benefits and harder to generate support to sustain the program.
The Bush administration describes this plan as an effort to make higher-income people with Medicare more “aware” of their health care costs and more “responsible” for paying their share. In fact, it is an effort to make moderate- and higher-income Americans less aware that, if they want decent health care in their old age or if they get hurt, they need to work to make sure Medicare is around for everyone. It makes them responsible for paying higher Medicare premiums but less responsible for ensuring that Medicare works for everyone.
Medicare embodies a promise from all Americans to ensure that all older adults and people with disabilities have access to high-quality health care. Fulfilling that promise is everyone’s personal responsibility.
Medical Record
One of the budget’s Medicare legislative proposals for fiscal year 2008 is to “Increase high-income beneficiary awareness and responsibility for health care costs.” This proposal seeks to “eliminate annual indexing of income thresholds for reduced Part B premium subsidies” and to “reduce Part D premium subsidies based on the same income thresholds that apply to reduced Part B premium subsidies, including no annual indexing” (President’s Budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, FY 2008 ).
“President Bush has already proposed eliminating the indexing of the income limits for the Part B premium calculation. (Currently, the income limits are set to rise every year according to the consumer price index.) That would mean that 10 years from now, the same $80,000 income will buy a lot less and many more people will be paying higher Part B premiums. From there, other cost-cutting measures could include means testing the coinsurance, deductible and even creating different levels of benefits covered by Medicare” (“Part B Premium Means Testing Undermines the Medicare Program ,” Medicare Rights Center, 2006).
Older adults over the age of 65 who are in “good” to “excellent” health spend around 15 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health expenses; those in “poor” or “fair” health spend around 30 percent of their income (“Beyond 50: A Report to the Nation on Trends in Health Security,” AARP, May 2002).
Fast Relief: Part D Monitoring Project
The Medicare Rights Center (MRC) needs to hear about all the problems with the Medicare Part D benefit, whether they happen to you or someone in your community. With this information, we will be armed with the needed evidence to push for a Medicare-administered drug benefit. Submit your story at
The Louder Our Voice, the Stronger Our Message
Asclepios —named for the Greek and Roman god of medicine who, acclaimed for his healing abilities, was at one point the most worshipped god in Greece—is a weekly e-newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date with Medicare program and policy issues, and advance advocacy strategies to address them. Please help build awareness of key Medicare consumer issues by forwarding this action alert to your friends and encouraging them to subscribe today.
The Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is the largest independent source of Medicare information and assistance in the United States. Founded in 1989, MRC helps older adults and people with disabilities get good, affordable health care. Visit our online subscription form to sign up for Asclepios at

Thursday, February 08, 2007

RH Jones re: Post-retirement protection

From RH Jones, February 8, 2007
In defense of the 13th check.

To all:

We have to live too! There are those out there who are in doubt that retirees need this hard fought benefit. In particular the new STRS board members, newly retired educators, and those soon to retire, need to be aware of the Post-Retirement Increases for our income protection as enacted, 04/27/2000, by the Gen. Assembly in Sub. S.B. 190:
(1) Comprehensive Retiree Health Care Program
(2) Annual COLA Allowances (I wonder, why not a Compounded?)
(3) Ad Hoc Legislative Post-Retirement Increases.
(4) Variable Supplemental Benefits (Our beloved 13th check).
Unlike the simple annual COLA (No compounding) the 13th ck. is discretionary. When STRS investment earnings exceed STRS funding requirements in any given year, the STRS bd. may allocate up to 25% of the excess investment earnings to pay the benefit. (Note: There is no mention here of "smoothing" over a 4-yr. period -- recently raised from 3-yrs.) To be fair to all retirees, the variable 13th ck. is payable to persons receiving the benefit for at least 12-months. It is calculated, by multiplying the STRS bd. approved unit value, by combining years of service at retirement and the number of years on retirement. Incidentally, there can be an issuance of from 1 to 11-units. Since the bd. can go as low as 1-unit, the check can be modest. However, in the down year of 1987, we got 11-units!
Originally, an enlightened OH legislature wanted to "even the playing field" for teachers with the other State of Ohio retirement systems -- certainly applaudable. But, presently, the STRS benefits do poorly when measured with some of them. And, it is no wonder. In comparison, our employer contribution is low. Hopefully, that will change soon with the passage of the 2.5 employer and 2.5 employee contribution increase.
With well deserved "Kudos" going to the STRS investment staff again this fiscal year, unfortunately, because of the inequitable and culpable decisions in the recent past by some legislators and some in their cabinets, the STRS bd. and some of the STRS employees, never again should we be uniformed. Each retiree must also stay vigilant. We can no longer trust that others will be vigilant for us.

Robert Hudson Jones, Retired STRS member, CORE & SummitCRTA leg. CMTE Mem.

Tom Curtis to Sandra Knoesel re: STRS compliance with HC goals

From Tom Curtis, February 8, 2007
Subject: 020807 Curtis To Knoesel, Gov't Asks Employers To Commit To $ Goals On HC
Hello Sandra,
After reading the article that follows, I am wondering how the STRS complies with each of the four goals requested. Would you kindly respond to each one?
Thank you,
Tom Curtis
This article can be viewed at
11/24/2006 Gov't Asks Employers to Commit to 4 Goals on Health Care
The head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is calling on employers to commit to four goals for providing more information on healthcare quality and costs of services.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt says fundamental information about healthcare quality and costs of services is largely unavailable today to consumers, to payers, and to providers alike. Without this information, it is difficult to make informed choices and seek out the best quality at the most affordable price, which contributes to higher healthcare costs overall, he says.
"If we are going to get a handle on health care costs--and we must--we first need to know what our costs are and what we are getting for our money," Leavitt says. "Our nation's private employers are the major source of health insurance for Americans, and they can help us provide the information consumers need to achieve better value for their health care dollars."
In August, President Bush signed an executive order committing federal healthcare programs to four cornerstone goals. Leavitt is now encouraging private employers to commit to the four goals and to ask health insurance plans, third party administrators, providers, and others with which they contract to take consistent actions to achieve the goals as well.
Leavitt emphasized that the initiative is voluntary. Employers that agree to the four goals will be encouraged to sign a support statement as part of a package of materials that is being made available to employers and other healthcare stakeholders. The four cornerstones are:
1. Encourage Adoption Health Information Technology Standards by supporting interoperable health information systems and products in order to enable the availability and secure exchange of healthcare information.
2. Increase Transparency in Quality by implementing, or asking those with which supporters contract to implement, programs to measure the quality of services provided by doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers and making this information available to health-plan enrollees.
3. Increase Transparency in Pricing by implementing, or asking those with which supporters contract to implement, programs to make available to health-plan enrollees the overall cost or price of their care.
4. Promote Quality and Efficiency of Care by offering incentives that encourage and facilitate high-quality and cost-effective health care.
Leavitt says his goal is to have, by spring of next year, more than 60 percent of the marketplace include these cornerstones as a significant part of their purchasing criteria.
Standards to measure quality and cost are to be developed through consensus processes involving stakeholders from throughout the healthcare sector. In particular, standards for measuring quality of care must be led by the medical community, Leavitt says.
An employer committing to the four "cornerstone" goals would collect quality and price information through its health plan or benefit administrator, using the consensus standards, Leavitt says.
Employers committing to the goals would also be encouraged to share quality and price information with regional collaboratives, where information from many sources could be aggregated, thus producing the most broad-based and reliable information possible. The employer or its health plan would share quality information with enrollees in the plan, and would provide information on costs, including the specific costs the enrollee would expect to pay under the plan.
"This approach is about providing better information for everyone, up and down the health care system," says Leavitt. "Consumers and payers need this information, but physicians and hospitals need it just as much. That's where quality and value improvement will really take place."
For more information, visit

Tom Curtis: Letter to the Canton Repository

From Tom Curtis, February 8, 2007
Subject: 020807 Curtis To Repository Letter To The Editor
Educators Elect Active & Retired STRS Board Members --
But Know Little Concerning That Person’s Qualifications, WHY?
The Ohio State Teacher Retirement System (STRS) Chairman Constance Ramser often has no true understanding of what she votes for. She has no real life experiences that would truly qualify her for being a board member of a $72 billion operation, as she has little, if any, practical financial background or expertise, yet makes critical fiduciary decisions for the STRS.
She is far too willing to meekly defer to the STRS management in many instances and will not listen to other board members who attempt to enlighten her. Example, she voted to approve a $19 million dollar contract before the contract was even written in its final version. What business or law school would advocate such a practice? This makes no sense at all!
In my opinion, her peers elected her because she was strongly involved in the teacher unions (with big money backing) for most of her career in education. That experience and being an STRS board member are like comparing apples and oranges.
While her lack of qualification should be evident, voters (other teachers) largely overlook it. This is because they are not given enough facts, or fail to think about it to seriously.
Educators, please remember that all of the previous elected board members immediately preceding Ms. Ramser have been convicted of ethics charges and no longer serve on the STRS board.
Many of Connie Ramser’s actions and comments, both during and away from STRS board meetings are unprofessional and out of line and offers no apologies. Further, she will not defend her voting practices to stakeholders and will not meet with them to discuss issues they are highly concerned about.
Unless she corrects this kind of behavior, she should give up her seat on the STRS Board.
Edmund Burke said, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Thomas Curtis
STRS Retiree
North Canton, OH

Molly Janczyk re: Basic health insurance plan

Molly Janczyk to Retiree, February 8, 2007
Subject: Basic Health Insurance plan
No, hospital meds are part of your medical coverage, not RX, as you are in the hospital and they provide them under Medical. No changes until fall of each year.
(Retiree), Are there more tests covered under Basic than those listed in our 2007 info sheets? If so, please send so I can put out. Here is what is listed in our info:
Basic: STRS pays 100% for:
1. mammogram
2. annual physicals (not sure but usually consists of blood tests, EKG, urine analysis, blood pressure, eye ck for general eye health not to replace a visit to your ophthalmologist (Eye Dr. with MD)
3. colorectal cancer screenings (depends of risk factors and age: fecal tests, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, colonoscopy: need to ck to see if all covered but generally precerts are done by Dr. for colonoscopy anyway) 4. RX Plan to increase to the first $5000 that STRS pays at 100% with generics being exempt.
(After STRS pays the first $5000 for RX's, for name brand RX's, enrollee pays 100% of all costs the remainder of the year except for generic which remains at the $25 copay.)
5. Out patient alcoholism increased to $1000 from $550 for both basic and plus.
6. Nutritional counseling expanded to single conditions that can be altered by diet such as hypertensions, diabetes, kidney disease and obesity. Normally conditions can only be altered in early stages.
Basic deductible: In network: $1500 Out of network: $3000
Out of pocket max for network: $2,500 Out of pocket max for out of network: $5000
Basic Premiums:
30 yrs. Recipient: $94; Spouse: $313
15yrs.: $235; spouse: $313
Please provide additional items for circulation. Thanks.
From a retiree to Molly Janczyk, February 8, 2007
Subject: Basic Health Insurance plan
We could have probably taken the Basic Plan, but until today I was not aware of how comprehensive the Preventative tests were. I called and they said we could not change until next year. Another thing we were not aware of was that hospital medications are not under the prescription limit. I called and found STRS had more comprehensive information, but we were not provided with this.
This would help save money for the STRS member and also for STRS so the fund would last longer.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

June Hughes: Teaching in the inner city

"I know our legislators wouldn't stay longer than 3 minutes, if that long." June Hughes
From June Hughes, February 7, 2007
Subject: Inner city educating
Been there and done that. Inner city teaching is not the same as the suburbs or urban areas. There is no merit pay nor support like there is in smaller communities. I've taught in both and it is a learning experience when going to the city. I taught in an inner city school when there were sit ins, walk outs, fire setting, fights, stabbing, police security that walked us from room or even to the bathroom. Yet I found some wonderful gems who did know how to respect and care.
Parents? I have no idea who or where they were, some students did live in cars and I allowed them to leave the room to take showers in the gym. Alarm clocks? I got them one that didn't need electricity. One student had a operatic voice which could have taken her far and was recognized by U of Cinti with a full scholarship, she got pregnant. That was the end of her upward movement. Yet I was never afraid of them or felt threatened.
We didn't get hazard pay even though one of the principals was outside in his car smoking and with his 'girlfriend' while another hid in the attic whenever there was chaos. The brightest part of that experience was the one class of 'leaders' who were so very bright.
The one principal who was the greatest one I ever had in my 31 years of teaching came there. When he left the teachers gave him an engraved gold watch so he'd remember us to let him know we wouldn't forget him. He brought that school into a place of pride, dignity and respect out of chaos. I could go on and on with the stories and experiences during those 5 1/2 years there and I wouldn't give them up because I too learned. Not academia but life.
There are some on our STRS board who could not survive in that atmosphere because they would have been eaten alive with their power attitude. I know our legislators wouldn't stay longer than 3 minutes, if that long. Well that's enough. Maybe some of us should get together and write a book. I say this not out of prejudice or malice, but with an understanding I didn't have before those experiences, it wasn't the blackboard jungle but it was closer than most teachers get in Ohio.

AG Dann puts the heat on for both STRS and OPERS stakeholders

Ohio AG questions decisions of UNH options probe committee

Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - 4:44 PM CST Wednesday, February 7, 2007
by Carissa Wyant, Staff Writer

In a letter sent Wednesday to two former Minnesota justices in charge of UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s (UNH) board-appointed special litigation committee, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann said a rushed settlement may be unfair to the company's shareholders.

Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) drew scrutiny last year in a stock-options backdating scandal that forced the retirement of former CEO William McGuire in December.

In his letter, Dann writes to Kathleen Blatz and Edward Stringer. As attorney general, Dann serves as fiduciary for two Ohio pension funds that collectively owned 5.6 million shares of UnitedHealth common stock, the Public Employees' Retirement System of Ohio and State Teachers' Retirement System of Ohio. Dann's letter states shares of UnitedHealth common stock possessed by his clients were worth more than $295 million, and at its peak value, that stock was worth more than $360 million.

The letter challenges the committee for a last-minute cancellation of a recent meeting with Dann and the lead plaintiff's attorney representing the Ohio pension funds in their shareholder derivative litigation. It goes on to say, " I strongly urge you to involve the derivative plaintiffs in that process."

The letter raises questions as to whether the committee authorized motions to pursue dismissal of the derivative action and whether it will be pursuing a suit against McGuire, who received some $1.6 billion in options and nearly $60 million in other compensation. Dann's letter also challenges the committee as to why it did not question UNH's appointment of Stephen Hemsley as CEO after he received more than $700 million in backdated options, as well as why the committee has not completed its own investigation after seven months on the job.

UnitedHealth appointed Blatz and Stringer to investigate whether UNH has claims against certain company directors related to the options scandal. UNH is obligated to pursue those claims depending on the investigation's outcome.

UnitedHealth spokesman Don Nathan insisted the special litigation committee is "fully independent" from the company.

As for why the committee canceled its meeting with the Ohio representatives, "It would be pure speculation as to what the committee process fully entails and any outcomes," Nathan said. "The company was not aware of this proposed meeting or anything surrounding it." | (612) 288-2108

And from today's Akron Beacon Journal comes an additional comment from AG Dann:

"New Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann said the special litigation committee had asked to meet with attorneys from his office on Feb. 1, but canceled on Jan. 31 when they found out he planned to attend personally.

"The cancellation 'gives me a sinking feeling that perhaps they're not sincere in their efforts ... to do what's necessary to protect the corporation's interest,' he said Wednesday.

"McGuire stood to receive a multimillion dollar payout after stepping down from UnitedHealth on Nov. 30, but that has been on hold until the special litigation committee finishes its work. Dann said he fears the committee is cutting shareholders out of negotiations with McGuire."

Shirlee Zerkel: Questions for Gary Russell

Shirlee Zerkel to Gary Russell, February 7, 2007
Subject: Questions about 65 and over retirees

Dear Gary Russell:
Can you please tell me how many retirees do we have that are 65 and over currently using STRS health care?
How many of those retirees have both Medicare A and B?
How many spouses of retirees with STRS have both Medicare A and B?
How many retirees 65 and over are presently on Medicare B only?
How many spouses are on Medicare B only?
Thank you,
Shirlee Zerkel

It doesn't look too good for seniors!, February 7, 2007

When in doubt, follow the money!

President George W. Bush has proposed cutting $78 billion from U.S. health spending over the next five years.

The $701 billion budget for the Department of Health and Human Services that Bush sent to Congress today includes $66 billion in cuts over five years from Medicare, which provides health insurance for 43 million Americans. Bush also would cut $12 billion from Medicaid for the poor and from a program that provides health insurance for low-income children.

In the very next breath he has also sought a record $784 billion hike for national defense as part of the annual and supplemental budget requests he sent to the US Congress.

This includes $235 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal year 2008, which begins on 1 October.

Bloomberg and ADNKI

Toledo Blade: Green Light Given to School Funding Ballot Petitions

Toledo Blade, February 7, 2007

Ohio petition drive OK'd for proposed constitutional amendment for school funding


COLUMBUS — The Ohio Ballot Board this morning gave backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to dramatically change how the state funds education the green light to begin gathering signatures to put the question to voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Despite debate over whether protections against budget cuts for the state’s local government fund, colleges, and universities should have been spun off into a separate ballot question, the five-member, Democrat majority board voted unanimously to send the petitions into the streets as a single, lengthy issue.
“Let’s not mistake length for meaning more than one amendment,” said Don McTigue, attorney for the Campaign for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of teachers’ unions, school boards, administrators, and parents pushing the amendment. He argued against dividing the question into two constitutional amendments, saying the protections for local governments and higher education are directly related to K-12 education.
The coalition plans to organize at the school district level to rally volunteers to gather more than 402,000 signatures of registered voters to put the proposal on the ballot.
If approved, the amendment would empower the State Board of Education to decide what constitutes a “high-quality education” and to set a per-pupil price tag for that education.
The state would assume that a school district levies 20 mills in property taxes, and the General Assembly would be obligated to fund the difference between what those mills generate and the state board’s per-pupil price tag.
The amendment does not mandate that districts roll back local property taxes, nor does it suggest where the state would find its share of the bill.

Top Dog State Employees' paychecks









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Jim Kimmel: Cable TV service is reward for wife's many years of hard work and paying into Social Security

From Jim Kimmel, February 7, 2007
Subject: Re: FW: Shirlee & Dennis and a view on Medicare Questions
My wife Judy applied for her 12 years of STRS when she was 60. It is not a large pension, but good to have. When she was 62 she went ahead and applied for her SS which included work in factories, babysitting, stores, etc from 1958 on. She also tutored in our house and reported that for many years. She did receive a SS benefit because she had over 40 quarters. HOWEVER, her approximately $125 per month was reduced by 2/3 because of her small STRS pension. They do this to anyone with a STRS type pension. But I am not sure that if you have 30 years of Social Security service or more you may not have the offset -- I am not sure of that. Anyway the policy sucks!! However, Judy's magnificent $46 per month DOES pay for cable!!
Jim Kimmel

Akron Press Club to host Reps. Couglin (R) & Williams (D) on February 12

From RH Jones, February 7, 2007
Subject: Akron Press Club will host Reps. Couglin (R) & Williams (D)
To all educators in N.E. Ohio:
Please plan to attend this important luncheon at the Akron U's Martin Center, 105 Fir Hill at 11:45 a.m. Feb. 12. (Map) These 2-legislators will discuss bipartisan legislative challenges facing Ohio.
Tickets are $15. Contact Abe Zaidan at 330-835-4980 or for tickets. David B, Cohen & Abe Zaidan will moderate. Audience questions are usually allowed at the Press Club luncheons.
For a lunch at McDonald's, you would spend at least half the price of this Press Club ticket. Please attend if you can. Education is the major challenge facing the legislature at this moment. It is in the best interest of active/retired educators to attend. Please do.
RHJones, SummitCRTA Legislative CMTE Mem. & CORE
[Note: It is easy to park at the Center, but advisable to get there early to be assured of a space.]

RH Jones: Where are the education lobbyists when teachers and kindergartners are begging?

RH Jones to John Curry, February 7, 2007
Have you tripped over a lobbyist while in Columbus?
On the behalf of education PreK-16, one wonders where the education lobbyists have been? The result of poor lobbying on the part of our educator unions has led to 5-yr. olds having to walk the communities with their hands out. The Beacon editor reported 01/30/07: "For certain, this picture of kindergarten students and their teachers walking the community with hands out should alert the Statehouse to the work it must do." We teachers must educate to our last breath. Educating the public is a ongoing sales job.
These 5-yr. olds are my heroes! They join the honor of being education heroes right up to the level of Dr. Dennis Leone and John Lazares. May they all be successful in their efforts, I pray.
Note: As in, "A little child shall lead them." I do not think so in this case. Since this Beacon article was published that district's Superintendent has wisely decided to allow teachers only to go door-to-door. However, it is my opinion that it is too dangerous for either children or teachers to go door to door. Teachers pay dues to their various unions to lobby and purchase PR through the media. It is quite obvious that a larger percentage of the dues dollar should be set aside for this.
Surging forward, baby steps count too!

RHJones, Life Member of all education unions, and proud to be a CORE

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Molly Janczyk and Tom Cooper: A dialogue on Social Security and pension offset

Tom Cooper to Molly Janczyk, February 6, 2007
Subject: Re: FW: Shirlee & Dennis and a view on Medicare Questions
(Responding to questions from Molly)
1.Are you 62 receiving early benefits vs. waiting to 65 for full benefits?
1. Actually, I wrote to Mr. Paukovich in Oct '06, when I was 62, but I turned 63 in Nov. Mr. Paukovich urged me to apply in Oct, which I did, as although my benefit at age 63 would be more, in his estimation, it would not be worth more than the extra month at age 63. As it turned out he was correct, as it would have only been $1 more per month when I turned 63. It would have taken me at least two years at $1 more per month to make up for that one October '06 payment. At my (our) age, I avoid counting on the realization of long term gains. So, yes, I saw no reason to wait until November, let alone until age 65. I am currently using that monthly payment to invest at around 9-12%.
2. Is your STRS pension offset by $200?
No. and I specifically asked this of the SS rep who handled my meeting and my account.
3. Is this what you would receive without being 62 or 65 and combining the Soc Sec and STRS for your monthly income?
I'm not sure I understand that question. I retired from teaching in 2000 at the age of 57. I didn't ot become interested in Soc Sec until I read Mr. Paukovich's column (at age 62). However, as I also mentioned, I have been receiving annual statements from SS for several years. Each years statements always showed an increase in benefits from the year before, BUT, I also continued to work part time at jobs which deducted FICA, so I am not sure about the details of my statements.
4. Do you have special circumstances of any kind, like armed services, etc.?
As I mentioned in my original suggestion that everyone who has quarters to make an appointment, I am not sure as to what allows my benefits, but, as I mentioned, yes, I was in the US Army for 4 years BEFORE becoming a teacher, AND, I also believe I may have actually accrued 40 Qtrs BEFORE I become a teacher, as I did not become a teacher until I was 26, and, besides my military service, worked summers AND worked FULLTIME while I was finishing my degree, AGAIN, before I started teaching.
Again, while my circumstances don't fit everyone who is a teacher, I had two financial "experts" whom I know personally and trust implicitly tell me I would have my STRS reduced by the amount I received from SS. Do your self a favor and make an appointment with a SS representative.
From Molly Janczyk, February 6, 2007
Subject: Re: FW: Shirlee & Dennis and a view on Medicare Questions
1.Are you 62 receiving early benefits vs. waiting to 65 for full benefits?
2. Is your STRS pension offset by $200?
3. Is this what you would receive without being 62 or 65 and combining the Soc Sec and STRS for your monthly income.
4. Do you have special circumstances of any kind, like armed services, etc.?
Tom Cooper to Molly Janczyk, February 6, 2007
Subject: Re: FW: Shirlee & Dennis and a view on Medicare Questions
RE:...I was told by some who have credits that the only sure way to know your benefits is to visit Soc. Sec. vs. phone calls. Tom Cooper was one with this suggestion as phone answers varied.
That is correct. I, like almost every teacher I know, ASUMED that I was not able to collect ANY benefit check or other benefits from SS, due to the fact that I was collecting full retirement from STRS.
HOWEVER!...I happened across a column in the ABJ that proved that concept is not always the case. If I can find the original article and/or letter I wrote to the author, I will. But..the point is, the article I read WAS similar to my own circumstances, (though I think the man who wrote to Joe was collecting a pension from SERS), so I wrote and asked about my circumstances, and he felt I was entitled to partial benefits, and that I should make an appointment, which I did. I am now receiving over $200 from SS each month. Not a lot, but certainly more than ZERO!...Also, please allow me to note, I am NOT yet 65
For now, here two points:
1. The column I read is a REGULAR column in the ABJ. It is written by Joe Paukovich, and the title of his weekly column is "On Social Security". Joe Paukovich actually works for SS.
2. As I stated before, it is easy to make an appointment, and especially IF you think you may have 40 qtrs, and or, you are getting annual statements from SS which shows the years you paid into SS, and also shows the projected amount you will receive at retirement, then you absolutely should make an appointment. you will need Social Security card/number, AND your last STRS pay stub AND a statement from STRS showing that you are retired and what your STRS benefit was the first month/year you retired.
By the way, Joe Paukovich's column was just in the ABJ yesterday. It is the "Your Business Solutions" section, page D-3, at teh top of the page. You can also read it on line by going to, which is he ABJ web site and Type "Joe Paukovich" into the search box.
I briefly checked the "Archives" and there only two articles that come up. I think you can find archive other articles, but have to pay a fee.
But..if you have specific questions, and have your details, facts and figures together, Joe Paukovich's e-mail is (NOTE that there is a period between the name Joseph and Paukovich)
From Molly Janczyk, Feb. 6, 1007
Subject: Re: FW: Shirlee & Dennis and a view on Medicare Questions
In addition, I was told by some who have credits that the only sure way to know your benefits is to visit Soc. Sec. vs. phone calls. Tom Cooper was one with this suggestion as phone answers varied. Others said every case varies. Shirlee has more experience with Soc. Sec. than many of us.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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