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November 2015


No tomatoes needed: Retirement workshop presenters please attendees
Cynthia Eaton


Tim Southerton
Tim Southerton, a teacher-member of the Retirement Board of the NYS Teachers Retirement System, presents at the Smart Board during the October 9 FA retirement workshop. Southerton is also president of the Sayville Teachers Association. (photo by Dante Morelli)

No rotten tomatoes here! The reviews are in, and this year's FA retirement workshop, held on October 9 on the Ammerman campus, was rated overwhelmingly excellent by participants.

Over two dozen members benefitted from the expertise of perennial favorite Gerry McGahran, a Stacey Braun certified financial planner, as well as Suffolk Employee Benefits Unit reps Margaret Ann DeMarzo and Maggie Brown and Mary Kaffaga of the FA Benefit Fund.

Returning this year was Tim Southerton, who has served on the NYS Teachers Retirement System (TRS) Retirement Board since 2011. One of three teacher-members on the board, Tim's expertise was clearly valuable to our members, with the vast majority of participants rating his presentation as "excellent."

"Each speaker," a participant noted on the evaluation form, "was well prepared with important handouts and information."

Participant evaluations indicate that the most valuable aspects were learning about how TRS, Social Security and Medicare work. Participants also appreciated learning about TIAA-CREF as well as how their EMHP and FA Benefit Fund benefits are affected by retirement. Another frequently cited item was the checklist of things to do and things to consider before retiring.

With nearly an equal number of participants enrolled in TRS and TIAA-CREF (plus a couple in ERS), the evaluations overall suggest that separating sessions on the two systems was "a good change," as one reviewer noted.

Reviewers' suggestions make plain that our members want even more information. One suggested offering one-on-one sessions after the meeting, another suggested hosting a retirement workshop once per semester rather than once per year and yet another suggested targeted breakout sessions for those in TRS and TIAA-CREF to attend simultaneously.

"This is the first time I am hearing this information. It is ALL valuable for a first-timer! Thank you for hosting it!! I loved the handouts to look at and study after the workshop," wrote one participant.

The FA hosts the retirement workshop every fall, typically in October. Don't miss next year's! The date, time and location will be announced via FA email and in The WORD. And you can feel comfortable leaving your tomatoes at home.