By Marie Ardiito
Co-founder, Massachusetts Retirees United (www.retireesunited.org)
The December issue of The Advocate marked the 10th year of the “Retiree Corner.” For the most part, the column has focused on giving advice and information to retirees, or occasionally just giving us all something to think about. As Massachusetts Retirees United (MRU) does not have any paid positions, the best reward for all of us who give of our services through MRU is to know that we help others get the information anbd support they need in order to bring about positive change.
As I begin my 11th year writing, it is fitting to compliment this organization of over 3,000 fantastic members, all of whom roll up their sleeves to work for what they believe in and what may benefit them, but also what will benefit other retirees. MRU is the only retirement group in the state that consistently filed for, worked for, and was instrumental in getting the Maternity Bill passed. This bill increased pensions for over 1,200 women who retired prior to September 200o. No other retirement group in the state even testified favorably on this bill during the last seven years of hearings. When we learned that they had never been told, MRU also notified retired teachers from the Boston Retirement System about this benefit. Clearly, it is important to read articles written by and to open mail from MRU!
From the start, MRU has been working to get those who served our country and were retired prior to July 24, 1996 to be able to count up to four years of their military service, as long as they do not exceed the 80% cap, to their creditable service. Again, no other retirement group is working for this benefit.
MRU is the only retirement group in the state that consistently filed for, worked for, and was instrumental in getting the $15,000 increase one can earn when returning to a public sector job in the Commonwealth. No other retirement group testified on that bill either. Presently, we are working to increase the hours one can work in a public sector job in the Commonwealth from 960 hours a year to 1,500 hours.
We are also the only retirement organization in MA that is working to correct injustices for those living in other states that have an income tax. Currently, retirees pay a tax on the contribution they made to their pensions while working. This amounts to a second tax on contributions already taxed. Charles Butters, a retired Boston teacher, helped us to get this corrected in South Carolina. Still, there are people who are not making use of this tax break because they do not know about it. Again, read this paper and your MRU mail!
When Kathy Kelley envisioned forming MRU, she knew that many locals had groups who looked at issues that pertained to their local areas. She wanted more and felt retired teachers would need more. She not only wanted an organization that could think outside the box, but would live and work as if no box existed. That is what we do and what MRU is all about.
So many times members tell me that the $20 they spend ($35 for two years) on membership is the best money they spend all year. They tell me they get it back through the many things they learn and through the money they save from what they learn. All member dues go back into member benefits. We offer dual membership to two people living at the same address at no additional cost. The second person need not even have been an educator or even retired at the time of joining.
If this sounds like a sales pitch to join MRU now or when you retire, it is more than that. It is an appeal to help you realize the importance of continuing education. Not knowing something in retirement and making uninformed decisions can be and is very expensive. That is what MRU is about- informing our memebrs so that they can make educated choices and live their best lives. Unlike most retirement groups, we do not solicit membership to meet our payroll because we have none. We reach out to people to become members to help them and for them to help us correct injustices. Join MRU through this article and receive additional months of membership - one-year members will not need to renew until January, 2018 and two-year members until January, 2019. To get a form, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-781-365-0205.Here’s to you, MRU!