NEW YORK 1013
 260-09 Hillside Avenue
Floral Park, N.Y. 11004
Phone: 718-343-7271
Fax: 718-343-1852

 

 

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QUESTION:        I see my name on the donation list when I send in my check for $20.00.  What are the annual dues?

ANSWER:           We have maintained the dues at $15.00 now for twenty years and any payment over that amount is reported as a donation in the next published newsletter.  Life members (75years old and with us a minimum of 5 yrs membership) need not pay dues, however when they send money we credit the amount as a donation.  As you can see, our list of donors is quite impressive.

QUESTION:        What hours are the office open?

ANSWER:            We have no paid staff and rely on volunteers.  There is usually some Board member in the office Monday to Friday between the hours of 11.am to 1 p.m.( sometimes earlier and later).  However, if you plan on stopping by please call ahead to make sure that one of us will be there.  You can leave a message on our answering machine and we will get back to you.  Please talk slowly and leave us a call back full phone number.      

QUESTION :     I have Medicare as my  primary and GHI as my secondary for health coverage.  GHI recently denied approval for a foot procedure that I thought should have been accepted.  Can you offer any comment?.

ANSWER:         GHI will not pay for any treatment that Medicare does not approve or accept.  If the treatment has already been completed the GHI statement (explanation of Benefits)  will contain that comment

QUESTION:      When I pass away what will happen to my spouse as far as medical coverage?.

ANSWER:       This will have to be a two part answer which I will try to explain.  Incidentally, you question is one that comes up most frequently at our meetings.  If the retiree has retired on 3/4 and dies from the condition that mandated the retirement (heart bill retirees included) the City will continue the same medical coverage that was in effect with the retiree.  This will also include Health and Welfare benefits (dental, eyeglass, and prescription).  If the retiree has retired for regular service or ordinary disability, the spouse will be able to continue the medical coverage but must pay for it at the group rate.  The group rate is a bargain and is calculated at the cost of 102 percent of the amount that the City was paying.  Due to special legislation that we were able to achieve several years ago this coverage does not expire after 36 months.  This applies only to New York City Police and Fire retirees.  Upon learning of the death of a police retiree the Retiree Benefits Section of the Office of Labor Relations sends the spouse an application which is referred to as "Cobra For Life".  The surviving spouse fills it out and sends it to the medical plan of choice and is thereafter billed and covered by that health carrier.  The survivor also can continue the Health and Welfare coverage with the respective Union, PBA,DEA,SBA, SOC. ( based on retirement rank) only for a period of 36 months, but they must pay for that continuing benefit for a 36 month period.  The Health sand Welfare coverage is no longer available after the 36 months but it does not effect the Medical coverage which is for life.

QUESTION:     I am a police widow.  My husband was a service retiree and I have continued my medical coverage with GHI.  I also took the Health and Welfare 36 month coverage from the Union which I pay for each month.  My 36 months will be up soon, what should I do for prescription coverage.

ANSWER:     You can contact GHI and enroll in their prescription plan by paying for that rider.  The Union will be sending you a termination notice when the 36 months are up.  You can also shop for other prescription plans and if you are Medicare age they will be partially subsidized by Medicare.  For the Medicare eligible, we recommend that you go to you local pharmacy with a list of your medications and they will tell you which available plan is best for you 

QUESTION:     I am receiving the Medicare rebate for myself and also my spouse.  When I die will my spouse continue to receive the rebate.

ANSWER:       The survivor continues to be in the rebate program only if the City is paying the health coverage.  If the City is not paying for the health plan then there is no justification for the City to provide the rebate

QUESTION:     Do I have to notify the Pension  Bureau when I become eligible for the pension COLA?

ANSWER:        NO.  THEY HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION ON YOU IN THEIR DATA BASE, HOWEVER YOU SHOULD BE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE QUALIFICATIONS, JUST IN CASE THAT THERE IS A COMPUTER SNAFU.

QUESTION:  What is the current status of the HIP/GHI merger?

ANSWER:  The application for permission from the New York State Dept. of Insurance for them to operate as a "for profit" publicly held corp. is not resolved as of this writing.  We, as well as the Unions, and the City are opposed to allowing them this change since it will no doubt result in increased costs to all.  Unfortunately the Governor apparently will favor the change since he has already included anticipated proceeds from the sale of the stock in the state budget planning.  this is one of the rare times that the City, the Unions and the Retirees are all in agreement that this is not a good thing.  Let us hope that the temptation of enjoying the spoils of the public stock sale offering does not over ride the decision outcome.

QUESTION:  On the same subject, what if they are given the green light to go ahead, who will get the proceeds.

ANSWER:  If they cannot be stopped there is a mad scramble and confusion as who can participate in the millions of dollars raised. The Governor wants it to go to the State, the City wants a piece, some of the Unions indicated they ought to benefit and we retirees firmly believe that a substantial portion should go towards the active and retiree health and welfare funds.  This issue may be a long and drawn out struggle and could very likely end up in the courts

QUESTION: What are they talking about when they mention "living will"

ANSWER: It is a legal document that allows you to put in writing what kind of health care you would want if you were too ill to speak for yourself.  You designate who you would want to make the serious decisions.  Medical persons are seriously concerned about this matter when they are dealing with dire cases.

QUESTION:  I have been notified that I will be paying more than the usual rate (96.40) per month in 2009.  How come?

ANSWER:  Several years ago congress passed legislation placing a "sur charge" on the premium rate for persons having taxable earning over and above specified levels.  The amounts are printed in the 2009 Medicare booklet on page 124.  A booklet was sent to every Medicare recipient.  In this current age of computers it is apparent that Medicare is monitoring the tax returns and using the information to notify those Medicare recipients with larger incomes as to their increased premium charges. 

      Each August when the Retiree Employee Benefits section sends out the rebate checks, included in the letter, are the instructions for applying for the additional rebate.  Most recipients just cash the check without reading the enclosed instructions.  If you qualify and submit the required documentation, you will receive a second check in  the following months of March or April.  This benefit applies to both the retiree and spouse and they must apply separately.

QUESTION:  I am considering relocating to another state.  What health plans are recommended for any particular  states.

ANSWER:  It is necessary for you to contact the Retired Health Benefits Section at 40 Rector  Street, 3rd floor New York, NY 10006 and request the booklet.  It will explain which plans can be provided in your  selected state.  I would then recommend that you contact other New York City retirees in that area and confer with them as to their experiences with the City provided health plans before you make the selection.  Unfortunately, in some states the choices are somewhat limited. 

QUESTION:  On my monthly pension check statement there is a separate line as follows: "ANTY RES. FND" and an amount indicated, which is part of the total of the monthly check, please clarify.

ANSWER:  Including that as a separate item is confusing.  It is an indication of the amount your excess contributions to your pension has added to the monthly payment that you are receiving.  It is not something that you can withdraw or that will change.

QUESTION:  Will the VSF be continued or paying the 12,000 as it did in Dec. 2010

ANSWER:  The VSF which was changed to a Defined benefit reached a level of $12,000 and will continue at that level  until the Trustees of that Fund decide to make any changes. a modification of the current Defined Benefit would require state-approved legislation.  To the best of our knowledge, no changes in eligibility or amounts are being considered.

QUESTION:  HR 218 Regarding Retired Police Officers qualification for carrying their guns out of state.

ANSWER:  The Federal Law presented a problem in respect to the documented proof of annual training in use of firearms that was equal to the retirees "ACTIVE COUNTERPART" Many States and Municipalities were unable or unwilling to provide the necessary training due to cost and time required.  The new change in the Federal law now allows the retiree, at their own expense, to qualify, by undergoing the annual training at a State certified law enforcement recognized firearms facility.  The retired P.O. must have their ID card and Annual Firearms certificate in their possession.  All restrictions apply such as no carry on airplanes, medical facilities, schools, public buildings, etc.  In other words, the same as applies to active PO's wherever they happen to be.  Be aware of the fact that whatever action you may take it will be with your own financial responsibility.

QUESTION: Since I retired I have left my Annuity  still invested with my Health and Welfare Fund and my question is what taxes will I have to pay when I withdraw it?

ANSWER: There was a decision rendered in 2008 from the State of NY Department of Taxation  which in substance states that the Annuity is exempt from State Tax and consequently exempt from City tax.  However you will have to pay Federal tax on the withdrawal.  If you should require a copy of that decision you can call our office and we will mail you a copy

QUESTION: My wife needs a wig after chemo for cancer, do you know if it is covered by my health plan or health and welfare?

ANSWER: The best advice we can give you  is to go to a providing store since they re in business to make money and are experts at advising you as to what reimbursements are available from Medicare or your Health plan( GHI-HIP etc.) and also check your Health and Welfare
Fund.

QUESTION:  I am in need of a wheelchair and would like to know if one is available for me as a retiree of the department.

ANSWER:  Yes,  also includes, hospital beds, crutches, canes, oxygen, ambulance, etc.  Service is in a limited service area.   Call Emergency Medical Squad at 718 526 9320 for details as to what is available and how to qualify. 

QUESTION: Has the Obama Health Care Laws had any new effect on charges to me?

ANSWER:: Yes.  We recently were informed by one of our Medicare covered members that since Jan. 1, 2011 his Social Security direct deposit monthly check was reduced by $15.00 a month.  After much inquiry he was told that the new federal health law has imposed as penalty for the cost of prescription coverage for those persons grossing  $85,000 on a single tax return, or $170,000 on a joint return.  It is worked similar to the income surcharge that went into effect on computing Part B payment required for any given year.

QUESTION:  I recently read that in the State of Michigan they are going to tax their pensions.  Do you have any information or comment.

ANSWER:  Although the State of Michigan may have been given the approval by their Court based on the wording of the Michigan State constitution it is contingent upon the specific wording within the
Constitution regarding pensions. The Constitution of the State of New York protects public employees from diminishment of impairment of their pensions.  Article V. Section 7 reads: After July first, nineteen hundred and forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

QUESTION: I was much younger than 65 when I received approval for Social Security disability and was not aware that it is mandatory by the City to accept Medicare for late enrollment. Is this a life long penalty.

ANSWER: No. According to Medicare's published (on line)  rules par.3a States If a premium effective surcharge was in effect prior to attainment of age 65, the premium is rolled back to the standard (unimpressed)  premium effective with the month of  attainment of age 65.

                FOLLOWING IS THE LISTING FOR MEDICARE  PART B PREMIUMS.  CHECK AUG 2012 NEWSLETTER FOR MORE INFORMATION.

2009   $96.40          2013  $110.50         2017 $132.70

2010   $110.50        2014 $115.80          2018 $140.30

2011   $115.40        2015 $120.80          2019 $148.40

2012   $99.40          2016 $126.00          2020 $158.60

Question:  How do I know if I have the 365 day rider on my GHI coverage

Answer: Simply by looking at your monthly or quarterly pension statement.  In the health statement deduction column the amount will be $2.21 per person.  If it is not there call your Health and Welfare fund because some of the funds cover it for all of their retirees.

Question:  How do I know if I have the high option rider on my GHI coverage

Answer: Again, simply by looking at your monthly or quarterly pension statement.  In the health statement Deduction column, the amount will be $6.50 for individual or $16.47 for family.

NOTE:  If you are Medicare covered (part A&B) the GHI high option rider is not necessary and the only Health deduction may be the $2.21 person 365 day rider.