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Resources to help protect you from investment scams and plan for retirement

Retiring involves three major financial components:  Deciding before you retire how much money you’ll need.  Accumulating those assets.  And then - once you’re retired - making your money last. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your monthly SERS payment – it’s guaranteed.  But you’ll have to make decisions about how to preserve the rest of your assets. 

That’s especially true if you choose to receive some or all of your Accumulated Deductions (Total of your member contributions plus credited interest earned on your member contributions.) as a lump sum payment when you retire.  This easily can amount to tens of thousands of dollars and it will be up to you to decide how to invest it.  You will have a wide range of investment choices available and there are many reputable financial experts who can help you decide which investment choices are best for you.
 
Unfortunately, there also are many scam artists and unscrupulous financial marketers.  Some specifically target retiring state workers.  They may be selling products that have high hidden fees or commissions, products that have hidden restrictions that could trap you in the investment, or products that simply are not suitable for your needs. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to invest your money wisely.  Information is available online that can help you protect your money from scams.
 
The Pennsylvania Securities Commission and Insurance Department issued an Alert Concerning Solicitations To Withdraw Your Pension Contributions to all Commonwealth employees.  The alert provides helpful information on how to research investment products and the salespeople offering the products, and provides a list of things to consider when presented with an investment option. 
 
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website contains a great deal of investor-oriented information, including information on specific types of investments and tips on choosing a financial advisor.  Among the pages you may find helpful are:
In addition the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities provides investor education information. Of particular interest are the sections on:
State Retirement Benefits
Through SERS' seven Regional Retirement Counseling Centers, retirement counselors provide retirement information and counseling services to the more than 200,000 active and retired members. Retirement counselors can provide you with personal retirement benefit estimates.  These estimates are projections of your monthly SERS annuity payment.
 
To obtain a retirement benefit estimate or if you have questions about SERS benefit; contact your Retirement Counselor by calling 1-800-633-5461.
 
In addition, your SERS Member Handbook and your annual Member Statement of Account contain valuable information about your retirement benefits.  SERS members also should be aware that they can produce their own individualized retirement estimates, testing a wide range of scenarios, by using SERS' retirement calculators.  The Interactive Custom Calculator uses your actual current account information from our database to prepare personal retirement estimates for a number of payment options.  Because the custom calculator pulls personal information from the database, you will need to register, by clicking on “Online Member Services” the top link to the left of this page, to access it. When you register, your password will be mailed to you through the Postal Service.  Meanwhile, you can use the Generic Benefits Calculator to produce rough estimates.  

Personal Savings/Investments and Social Security
Commonwealth employees are fortunate to have the opportunity to set aside tax-deferred investment income under the Commonwealth's Deferred Compensation Program sponsored by SERS. Great-West Retirement Services administers the Deferred Compensation Program for SERS. To learn more about investment and retirement planning, visit the Deferred Compensation Program website at www.sers457.com. (If you are not a Deferred Compensation participant, you can log in as a "guest.")
 
Each year, workers covered by Social Security receive free estimates of their projected Social Security benefits. For more information or to file an application to begin receiving benefits, contact the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website at www.ssa.gov/. You can also obtain Social Security Estimate Request forms from your SERS Regional Retirement Counseling Center.  
  
Additional Resources
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) has developed a two-part documentary entitled “Retirement Revolution” and a companion website: wttw.com/retirementrevolution to help people plan for retirement.  Retirement Revolution looks at the financial challenges facing the Baby Boomer generation and provides information to help people of all ages prepare for retirement, including:
  • Retirement terms and tools 
     
  • A retirement readiness survey
     
  • “10 Steps for a sound and secure retirement”
     
  • “Top Mistakes to Avoid” 
     
  • Information on Medicare


Last published: 07/12/2013 10:29 AM