Florida retirees may see benefits increase

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Retirees and beneficiaries may see changes in the way their cost-of-living retirement benefits are calculated.

Republican Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera sponsored House Bill 151, which seeks to make adjustments to the amounts specific retirees and beneficiaries receive.

Under the bill residents who have never received any adjustments will have an amount equal to a percentage of their initial benefits added to their monthly benefits. The calculations to determine this percentage “are derived by dividing the number of months the member has received an initial benefit by 12 and multiplying the results by three,” according to the bill.

Similarly, the same goes for those who have already received an adjustment to their benefits, with some slight differences, according to the statute:

The adjusted monthly benefit would be the amount of the monthly benefit received on June 30 immediately preceding the adjustment date plus an equal amount to three percent.

Florida residents rely on their pension to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Many hope that these adjustments are in favor of retirees, providing an increase in their benefits.

Among them is Diane Alexander, a native of Miami-Dade County and a recently retired educator. Due to health issues, Alexander retired in 2015 at the age of 53 and was granted early retirement benefits. She discussed the options available to those without insurance at the time as well as how useful her revised medical insurance was at the time.

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of adequate medical facilities and insurance benefits, many retirees have found it necessary to use these poo-up, fast-growing medical facilities that are medical clinics. These clinics are popping up all over the Miami-Dade area, and the care isn’t the same as that received in professional medical offices,” Alexander said.

Alexander shared her thoughts on a possible increase, but also her concern with how this will impact retirees with different occupations.

“As a new retiree, I feel that based on our current inflation rates, any increase is welcome,” she said. “My only concern is the level of the increase. Being a former educator, my percentage of increase will be a lot less than those in law enforcement or the military. Where is the fairness? Inflation and cost of living increases affect all of us, and now at all levels.”

When interest rates change, younger individuals will experience greater fluctuations in their predicted lump sum than older retirees.

Although these changes are highly anticipated by current retirees, their impact on future generations remains a concern.

Clark, a future retiree, is also an advocate for equal benefits for all retirees.

“The changes that I feel like should be made to the benefits are to give everyone the same benefits starting out because the benefits that you start with are not the benefits that you retire with; you get more benefits when you retire versus when you’re entering the system,” Clark said.

Many hope that this bill will also address the existing problems that seniors face, such as letters informing them that their benefits will be reduced because they are too old.