President’s Forum 141 – Hard Work Pays Off for NRLN Members

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Congress has included in its omnibus bill three of the five issues the NRLN has been lobbying for which are very important to retirees. Congress is expected to pass the bill this week.

To our leadership team suffered a major setback in September when Bob Martina, VP Grassroots died in an
auto accident in September. His accomplishments and spirit set a high bar; we are thankful that he built a great organization of people who can keep the ball rolling.

We are grateful to: Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director, and those members who joined her during annual
fly-ins, in visiting Congressional offices, our Regional VP, State and local Grassroots Congressional District leaders and active members who worked to persuade members of Congress by sending hundreds of thousands Action Alert emails, and to all who lobbied local Congressional staffs back home (and sent letters to editors) in their states to gain support, THANK YOU -for the passage of these bills.

Our Income Security team led by Jay Kuhnie; Michael Calabrese NRLN’s Strategic Advisor; Legislative Action
Committee led by Judy Stenberg for researching bills for our agenda; and to Ed Beltram, VP  Communications 
who is the glue that holds us together. THANKS FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP!

I hope I didn’t slight anyone. Here are the three proposals they delivered for you:

  • Pension Recoupment: Until now, a company could “recoup” or recover pension overpayments made to a
    retiree when it discovered them, no matter how long it had been. With the new law, the Company doesn’t have
    an obligation to recoup; But if it does recoup:
    • Must be done within 3 years of initial overpayment.
    • May not recoup more than 10% of overpayment per year.
    • May not recoup against a beneficiary.
  • Section 420 Transfers: This IRS provision was about to expire and the legislation has extended it. The
    NRLN’s proposal in the new law lowered the threshold of when companies can use these funds to 110%, down
    from 125%. This means more companies will be able to tap these funds to provide retirees with healthcare and
    life insurance benefits.
  • Pension Annual Funding Notice: 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. The NRLN advocated for common sense solutions: 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. The table will show current and past two
    years of: plan participants; plan assets and liabilities; company funding obligations and contributions; interest
    rates used to calculate funding levels, and rate of return on plan investments over a three-year period. Also, all
    departments are required study AFN for the next three years.

It is highly disappointing that the following two bills were not included in the omnibus bill:

Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) Was Not Extended: NRLN Grassroots members repeatedly sent Action Alert letters to urge their Representative and Senators to pass legislation to make permanent, or at least extend the Health Coverage Tax Credit for another year. It was reported that HCTC was not singled out, there was an objection to including tax credits in the omnibus bill. HCTC has been very important to Delphi, Avaya, Kodak and other Association and Chapter members. HCTC has helped Americans ages 55-64 cover the cost of health insurance if they are retired and their pensions have been taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), or if their job was outsourced abroad and they qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Susan Muffley Act Did Not Pass: Numerous Grassroots members, including members of the NRLN Delphi Retirees Chapter, responded to NRLN Action Alerts to try to gain passage of the Susan Muffley Act. Negotiations in the U.S. Senate failed to achieve sufficient bipartisan agreement to include the House-passed Susan Muffley Act in the omnibus bill. The legislation wound have reinstated and provided back pay of pensions to Delphi Salaried Retirees who lost up to 70% of already-in-place or promised-at-retirement. pensions when the Delphi Salaried Retirees pension plan was terminated and taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) during the Delphi and General Motors bankruptcies.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network

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