Chapter President’s Message
Welcome to Spring!
For some of us, it has been a long time coming. May is the month that we make our annual solicitation to members of the Lucent/Nokia Chapter. You will soon be receiving a letter asking for a small donation to help us pay expenses like mailings, postage, web expenses, as well as legal and consultant fees for our lobbying activities.
Your donation goes a long way. And the size of our chapter makes it a very important part of achieving NRLN’s goals. I urge you to participate. Any amount will be appreciated.
NRLN 2023 Legislative Agenda
The entire NRLN 2023 legislative program is available by clicking here. In particular, these issues of interest to our members are being pursued by the NRLN:
Life Insurance Benefit: The LRO has been dealing with Nokia for years to secure additional funding for the underfunded Group Life Insurance Trust (GLI). Recently Nokia announced it plans to transfer $316 million of the excess pension assets to pay for Group Life coverage for eligible Lucent / Nokia retirees. The current pension funding exceeds the current law’s threshold of 120% and thus allows the transfer.
The NRLN’s proposal was passed into law in December 2022 that set the pension plan funding threshold at 110% of when pension plan sponsors can use excess to provide retirees with healthcare and life insurance benefits.
Pension Recoupment: This is when a pension plan sponsor finds an error in the pension payment calculation and forces a retiree (some Lucent retirees have experienced this) to pay back thousands of dollars and suffer a cut in his/her pension benefit. The NRLN was successful in getting legislation passed in December 2022 that limits retirees’ exposure to pension recoupment of over-payments to three years rather than unlimited years; may not recoup more than 10% of overpayment per year, and it may not recoup against a beneficiary.
Annual Funding Notice: In the future the Annual Funding Notice that Nokia Pension Plan sends to us will be streamlined due to legislation that the NRLN was able to gain near the end of last year. Before this new law, pensioners received their AFN and it failed to provide a clear picture of how well their pension plan was funded. This was because by the time they received an AFN in April, it contained data calculated 16 months earlier. With the law changes, the AFN will use year-end valuation so when retirees receive their AFN the date is only four months old. Also, the AFN will be simplified by moving all relevant data to a table on the front page.
Corporate Mergers: We have gone through the corporate mergers with Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia. The NRLN has developed a whitepaper and is lobbying Congress for legislation to protect retirees in corporate mergers, acquisitions and spin-off.
Social Security: Until 2033 Social Security will be able to pay 100% of total scheduled benefits, according to the 2023 Trustees’ report. At that time, the fund’s reserves will become depleted and program income will only be sufficient to pay 77% of scheduled benefits. The NRLN is urging Congress to strengthen funding for Social Security to make it secure for the next 75 years.
Medicare & Medicare Advantage: Original Medicare Part A will only be able to pay 100% of scheduled benefits until 2031, according to the 2023 Trustees’ report. At that point, the fund’s reserves will become depleted and program income will only be sufficient to pay 89% of scheduled benefits. The NRLN is urging Congress to strengthen funding for Medicare. Congress is allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize insurance companies for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to serve as a move toward privatization. The NRLN opposes the use of MA plans to privatize Medicare. The NRLN is also advocating that original Medicare participants have access to the special benefits being offered in MA plans. If Medicare is privatized, current MA plan participants should be grandfathered to protect their benefits and subsidies.
Prescription Drug Prices: – NRLN is advocating that Medicare increase the number of prescription drugs it will negotiate for price reductions. Legislation should be passed to end pay-for-delay and other brand-name drugmakers’ tactics. The NRLN is also supporting bills to allow Americans to import prescription drugs from licensed Canadian sellers.
SPECIAL NOTICES TO MEMBERS
Lots of Benefits information on our Chapter Benefits Team pages.
Nokia Benefits Website
Retirees can use the YBR website for benefit-related activities such as:
- Enrolling in Nokia’s health and welfare plans (e.g., medical and dental);
- Making and/or changing Nokia Savings/401(k) Plan elections;
- Updating dependent or beneficiary information
- Projecting pension benefits and/or electing to commence pension benefits.
Nokia Benefits Resource Center (NBRC)1-888-232-4111
International Long Distance 1-212-444-0994
Do we have your current email address?
We regularly inform members about important news. If you have mistakenly ‘unsubscribed’ to one of our emails, you will no longer hear from us unless you re-subscribe.
To “re-subscribe”, or to sign up to receive our emails, or if you are not sure we have your current address, CLICK HERE
HOW YOU CAN HELP OUR CHAPTER
- Become a Member! Sign up to receive emails from us here.
- Be an active member. Respond to Action Alerts. Congress does listen to what constituents are saying. Your letters supporting NRLN lobbying efforts make a difference. Congress knows that those letters and emails are from retirees trying to protect retirees.
- Reach out to other retirees that you know through clubs, your emails or Facebook. We need them to join us to gain strength. Ask them to sign up for emails here.
- Volunteer your time. We need folks who are a little younger than mid-eighties to help in small ways. It’s time for the next generation — you know, you 60- to 70-year-olds, to step up! If you have HR experience, you could be very helpful in the benefits area. If you think you would like to help, even a few hours a month, email me at email@example.com.
- Support us financially. Your contribution of $25 or more is important to finance the work of the new chapter. Click here to make your contribution by credit card or send a check to NRLN Inc., and mail to PO Box 69051, Baltimore, MD 21264-9051.
Stay healthy in 2023
This is the time of year for resolutions. For retirees, let me suggest that the most important resolution you can make for the year 2023 is STAY ON YOUR FEET!
This simple phrase has two meanings and they are both relevant.
- First, try to spend more of your time moving around rather than sitting.
- The second, avoid falls. Falls are a main cause of morbidity and disability in the elderly.
More than one-fourth of persons 65 years of age or older fall each year, and in half of such cases the falls are recurrent. The risk doubles or triples in the presence of cognitive impairment or history of previous falls.
Read all about it here.
Another article from the Mayo Clinic outlines some simple tips for avoiding falls.
About that Cost-of-Living Raise
Several of you have written me asking about a cost of living raise in the pension. You point out that the pension trust is overfunded, and inflation has taken its toll, particularly on long-time retirees. And it’s true that one dollar in 1990 purchasing power requires $2.73 today.
We have raised the question with Nokia.
Their answer is that there are no plans for a cost-of-living raise. They point out that retirees prior to 3/1/90 do not pay for healthcare and life insurance.
We will keep monitoring the pension trust numbers in 2023.
Joe Sciulli, Vice President – Information Technology/Databases Joe Sciulli is the NRLN Vice President – Social Media and President, Lucent/Nokia Retirees Chapter. He began his career with Western Electric in 1957 in the Defense Activities Division, which served as the prime contractor for the SAGE Air Defense System. He had responsibility for installation and system testing of the system nationwide.