MAR News

MAR NEWS UPDATED: 07/03/2024

PLEASE LET MAR KNOW IF YOU HAVE HAD AN ADDRESS OR EMAIL CHANGE.

PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU SCROLL THROUGH ALL THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE AS IT HAS NEW INFORMATION PLACED THROUGHOUT.

 

MAR RIBBON CUTTING!  WE MOVED!

MAR staff has settled into the new office space quite well.  The office is buzzing with some new initiatives. More members visit us every day and the reviews are great. If you are in the Augusta area, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, please stop by the office and visit us.

URGENT VOLUNTEERS NEEDED “The Great Race” and “IRONMAN 70.3 MAINE”

The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers for ” The Great Race” being held in Gardiner, Maine on June 30th and they are looking for 900 volunteers for “IRONMAN 70.3 MAINE” that is a world-renowned ultimate endurance challenge! Volunteer groups are welcomed for opportunities in the areas of environmental crew, bike course, aid stations, and more.

Go to the following to sign up!  https://kennebecvalleychamber.com/

Go to the “Event” tab at the top of the page of the above and scroll down and look for these events. You can sign up there!

 

URGENT NEW VACANCY-Maine Commission for Community Service-State Government

The Commision needs someone for 6 months ($45/hr., 24 hrs. a week) to help with financial reports and records as they transition to several new systems.

You would be working in “Advantage”, the states accounting system, as well as the federal grant management system which is being retired.  This assignment will capture information they will need for future audits but not have access to pull from the old system.

If you have the skills, or relative background that you might be of service to the Commission you can contact:

www.VolunteerMaine.gov

 

NOTE: Open Enrollment ended 6/30/2024. AETNA VISION PLAN IS HERE!

AETNA VISION PLAN COMING 7/1/24!  

MAR is partnering with Aetna to offer public service retirees a comprehensive vision insurance plan effective July 1, 2024.  Open enrollment will be May 1, 2024 – June 30, 2024. If you are currently enrolled in the State’s Aetna Vision Plan, you will automatically be re-enrolled effective July 1, 2024.  The Aetna Vision plan will remain unchanged from both a benefit and premium perspective.  If you do not have the Aetna Vision Plan and would like to enroll, contact MAR at (207) 582-1960, email MAR@maineretirees.org or visit our web page.

Or copy the Vision Add/Change Form for below:

Aetna Vision Form

Important payment change for retirees currently enrolled in the State’s Aetna Vision Plan.  Starting July 2024, the monthly premium will be deducted from your pension by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS).  You will no longer pay Aetna directly. 

NOTE: New enrollees in the Aetna Vision Plan will also have their premium automatically deducted by MainePERS.  You will receive from Aetna a welcome packet with an ID card mailed to your home within 15 business days after enrollment is completed.  If at any time you need an additional/new ID card, you may contact Aetna or download ID cards from the secure member website.

The Aetna Vision Plan provides coverage for:

  • Routine eye exams, including dilation
  • One pair of eyeglasses (lenses and frame) or contact lenses
  • Prescription sunglasses

With Aetna you’ll have a huge selection of both national and neighborhood retail locations, but you also can visit any licensed eye care provider outside of the network. If the provider is outside the network, you may pay more and need to file your own claims.

VISION PREMIUMS
  Present Rates July 1, 2024
Retiree $4.86 $4.86
Retiree + 1 $7.78 $7.78
Family $12.66 $12.66
Rates and benefit are not changing

Below is a document listing all the services AETNA Vision will cover. In order to read the document below just click on it and it will expand:

 

UPCOMING SCHEDULED CLOSINGS

Monday, May 27, 2024……………Memorial Day

Wednesday, June 19, 2024………Jubilee Day

Thursday, July 4, 2024……………Independence Day

 

30 COMMON CREDIT SCAMS: Are you vulnerable?

The link below has been provided to MAR from Frank Myers, and the link will take you to a guide outlining 30 credit-card-scams to avoid.  Frank is a Consultant/Researcher Digital Content and Media. We agreed that this is valuable information for our members.  Take a moment and look at the guide Frank has offered us.

https://upgradedpoints.com/credit-cards/30-credit-card-scams-to-avoid/

 

MAINE STATE RETIREMENT

MainePERS is seeking your assistance to ensure your contact information is up to date.  Have you moved since retiring? Has your email or cell phone number changed?  Did you give up your land line? Having accurate information assists us in the verification process when you contact MainePERS and helps maintain the security of your account.  It also ensures you receive critical information in a timely manner.

The quickest way to update your contact information is through the MainePERS Member Portal. If you have already registered, please login and double check your information. Need to register? Instructions are available at www.mainepers.org/memberportal.

Prefer to submit your information via mail? Complete the Member/Benefit Recipient Data Update form available at www.mainepers.org/forms-resources/forms/.  A quick link to this form is available on that webpage. Just complete and mail back to MainePERS at P.O. Box 349, Augusta, ME 04332-0349.

 

REMINDER:  MAR HAS MOVED: The Maine Association of Retirees (MAR) has officially moved to 157 Capitol Street, Augusta, ME.   We hope this provides improved access and enhanced services for public service retirees.

NOTE: The light gray/white building is located going up Capitol Street on the right hand side just beyond the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS).  MAR’s phone numbers 207-582-1960;  1-800-535-6555; fax number 207-707-1722 are not changing.

We invite you to stop by MAR’s new location where there is plenty of parking space.   Meet the staff and personally access multiple benefits as a MAR member.

 

FREE TAX PREPARATION SERVICES

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free federal and state income tax preparation to qualifying individuals.  Returns are prepared by Internal Revenue Service-certified volunteers.  Tax-Aide Counselors will help individuals navigate the 2023 U.S. federal and Maine income tax returns. You do not need to be an AARP member to use this service.

Assistance is available by appointment only at locations throughout the State of Maine.  Most Tax-Aide sites will be open between February 1 and April 15, 2024.

AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Site Locator Tool can help you find a site near you.   Click the link below to access the tool:

https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/locations.html

To use the site locator, enter your zip code and a distance (in miles) from that zip code.  The locator will provide a list of Tax-Aide sites, and includes each site’s days and hours of operation, as well as information to make an appointment.

 

CA$H MAINE

Another organization offering free tax preparation is CA$H Maine.  This is a statewide collaboration for households with a combined income of less than $64,000.  They have volunteers who are trained to prepare and file your federal and state taxes for free.  To contact CA$H Maine go to:    https://www.cashmaine.org/free-tax-prep/

 

AARP 

The Greater Augusta AARP Chapter #511 is an affiliate of AARP and was incorporated in 1970.  Members of the Chapter serve the Augusta area communities through volunteerism and raising funds for senior citizens and other non-profit programs in the area. The Chapter welcomes new members. Annual dues are $7.  Monthly membership meetings take place at 10:00 am on the 4th Wednesday of the months March through October and the 2nd Wednesday of November and December at the Cohen Community Center, 22 Town Farm Road, Hallowell, ME. Meetings include a speaker on a topic of interest to seniors. After each meeting, a luncheon is provided by the Cohen Community Center for $5.00.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE       

If you would like to show support for any of the LD’s, please contact your legislator.  Following is the link to testify in person at the hearing or submit written testimony:

https://www.mainelegislature.org/testimony/

If you would like to know what MAR has been doing with regard to Legislation that would effect Public Service retirees. Following is the link:

https://maineretirees.org/legislation-policy/

For further information contact Diane Bailey, Executive Director, Maine Association of Retirees, 157 Capitol Street, Suite #4, Augusta, ME 04330

207-582-1960 Ext. 208       

Email: dbailey@maineretirees.org

 

MAINE STATE LEGISLATURE

Please go to the MAR Web site to find the final outcome of the 131st Second Session LD.s.

 

MEDICARE SAVINGS PROGRAM

If you are age 65+ and have medical insurance, you are required to have Medicare Part B.  The present cost of Part B is $174.90 monthly or $2,098 annual.  If you are eligible for Social Security, then the monthly Part B premium is deducted from your Social Security amount.  If you do not receive Social Security, then you are billed (usually quarterly) for Part B. This is an additional cost that many retirees did not realize they would incur.

The Medicare Savings Program (MSP) helps to cover Medicare costs including paying for Part B premiums and due to recently passed legislation there are significant changes to this Program.

  • As of January 2024, assets are no longer counted towards determining eligibility for the MSP. Examples include savings account, additional property other than your home, stocks/and bonds, etc.
  • There is no estate recovery associated with MSP. No claim will be made if the only benefit you get is MSP.
  • In 2024, the monthly income limits are changing which means that people who previously did not qualify may now be eligible to receive benefits from this Program. Look for more information on income changes in MAR’s next newsletter.

MSP has three tiers with different levels of coverage.

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)
  • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)
  • Qualifying Individual (QI)

Following are the present monthly income limits which will be raised in 2024:

Single Couple
QMB $1,883 $2,555
SLMB $2,134 $2,896
QI $2,322 $3,152

NOTE:  If you qualify for any one of the three tiers, MSP will pay for your Medicare Part B premium.

To get an online application go to:                        https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ofi/applications-forms and click on MaineCare applications or you may create an account at www.mymaineconnection.gov .

Call 1-855-797-4357 or visit your local Office for Family Independence.  Office locations can be found at https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/about/contact/offices

If you need assistance completing the application or have questions, you may contact  Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-965-7476.

 

MAR JOIN’S MAINE COUNCIL ON AGING

In December MAR became a member of the Maine Council on Aging (MCOA), a broad, multi-disciplinary network of more than 135 organizations, businesses, municipalities, and older Mainers.

MCOA was established with a vision of creating an age-positive Maine where we can all live healthy, engaged, and secure lives with choices and opportunities as we age in our homes and communities.  We provide a strong network with opportunities for shaping aging policy and shared knowledge. MCOA is a cohesive voice for advocacy on initiatives on aging and shared learning that are moving Maine forward toward this vision with a goal of achieving an age-positive culture by 2034.

There are many ways for MAR Members to take advantage of our work and offerings!

Join one of our free webinars hosted by our education arm, the Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging (TSLCA).  The TSLCA is designed to build collaborative, community networks that address the needs of older adults aging in their communities through free educational programming and networking. Check it out at www.agefriendly.community

Join our weekly Legislative calls on Monday mornings during the legislative session to keep track of what’s happening in Augusta!  Contact Jena Jones at jjones@mainecouncilonaging.org to sign up and learn how you could help us at the State House!

Our Power in Aging Project engages audiences from different sectors in direct conversations about age-bias, the impacts of ageism, and the benefits of living and working in an age-positive culture.  We would be pleased to offer a free session at an affinity group or community gathering. Contact Maureen O’Connor at moconnor@mainecouncilonaging.org  We are also   always looking for facilitators of these conversations if you’re interested in joining in the work!

The Leadership Exchange on Ageism (LEA) helps executive, business, policy, and community leaders see their role in ending ageism and provides tools to implement changes.  This program is offered to Community Leaders as well – so if you’re leading a community effort or serving on a town council and want to participate contact Jess Maurer at: jmaurer@mainecouncilonaging.org.

The Equity + Healthy Aging Initiative helps aging services providers and community volunteer organizations understand the social health needs of diverse older people in Maine, the barriers diverse older people face in meeting these needs, and to integrate these needs into MCOA’s network of advocacy efforts.  We also support a BIPOC Elders group and partner closely with LGBTQ Leaders on efforts to give voice to LGBTQ elders.  Contact Kathy Vezina at:           kvezina@mainecouncilonaging.org

For more information about MCOA visit: www.mainecouncilonaging.org.

 

MAR NEWSLETTER SPRING-2024

Click the following link and find our Spring-2024 Newsletter:

Note: https://maineretirees.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Newsletter-Spring-2024.pdf

 

MAINE STATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM 

Access now available from MainePERS Website

MainePERS members and retirees may now register for and access the new online Member Portal directly from the MainePERS website. Since the phased launch that began in October more than 11,000 individuals have accessed their portal account. With the phased portion of the launch completed, information about the portal and how to register is now available on the Member Portal webpage:          www.mainepers.org/memberportal.

For those who are already registered easy access to the Member Portal Login is now provided at the top of the MainePERS homepage www.mainepers.org.

Not yet registered? Member Portal registration instructions are available to help at www.mainepers.org/memberportal and additional assistance is available at 207-512-3100.

While participation in the portal is optional, registering provides secure and convenient access to MainePERS account information, including access to download and print tax documentation such as your 1099R and review beneficiary selections. It is also a convenient way to update contact information, which has been one of the most popular features.

Providing secure access to member information is important, so multifactor authentication (MFA) is required for user registration and login. As part of that authentication process, access to a cellular or land-line telephone and/or email address is required to receive a unique verification code that will be entered online for a successful authentication and secure log in to the  portal. Visit www.mainepers.org/memberportal for more information.

Members and retirees have asked for online account access in member satisfaction surveys and MainePERS is excited to offer this new service!

 

FROM THE MAR I.T. OFFICE – ENSURING PRIVACY

Have you ever had an ad for something that seemed way too specific or tailored for you? It is very easy to shop online and carry out your daily activities on your phone, tablet, or PC. But did you know almost every website is tracking what you do, where you visit, and what you are looking for on their website? This data is shared with mutual advertisers, sometimes with data you might not want shared!

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from online tracking and protect your privacy:

The first is a VPN. A VPN hides your actual location from websites. A VPN also ensures an encrypted communication channel, this means your internet  provider cannot even see what you are doing! A great VPN to consider is NordVPN, which is available for smartphones and computers.

The next is to get an ‘anti-tracking’ privacy program, such as uBlock Origin. This program can be added for free on all your web browsers and blocks all hidden trackers, ads, and even malicious sites! To find NordVPN or uBlock Origin, just search with your browser.

Lastly, a privacy-centered browser and search engine should be used such as Firefox, or Brave, and DuckDuckGo for the search engine. A combination of these tips will ensure your online safety and privacy guaranteed.

If you are ever unsure about a message or email you received, please either call or send me an email at bwadleigh@maineretirees.org. Stay safe MAR members!

 

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

IRONMAN 70.3 MAINE AUGUSTA

IRONMAN needs VOLUNTEERS!

Volunteer Dates!

Friday, July 26th

Saturday, July 27th

Sunday, July 29th

What is Ironman?

A world-renowned life style brand and ultimate endurance challenge. Athletes from all over the world will spend multiple days at the event. What an excellent opportunity to showcase our fabulous capital city. If you are interested in volunteering contact the Kennebec Chamber of Commerce by calling 207-623-4559 or email: https://www.augustamaine.com/events/ironman-70-3-maine

 

 

 

AARP FOUNDATION TAX-AIDE VOLUNTEER

Help Those in Need Get Their Taxes Done for Free

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is in need of Volunteers.  AARP offers free tax assistance to those who need it most: people 50 years of age and older; community members who may have disabilities; and individuals and families generally earning $60,000 or less.

AARP is looking for friendly individuals to join them for the upcoming tax season to work as volunteers at Tax-Aide sites in communities across Maine.  AARP provides training, and schedules are flexible.  You do not need to be an AARP member to volunteer.

Hear from some Tax-Aide volunteers about their experience:       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXukPUQOmEw

Volunteer positions needed are:

  • Client Facilitators: Greet taxpayer and help organize their paperwork.
  • Tax Counselors: Prepare and file taxpayers’ returns online to reduce the burden and stress of their doing their own taxes. We provide training, computers, and software.
  • Other roles: Schedule appointments, or help with training and technology.

To learn more and apply for a Tax-Aide volunteer position, visit https://www.aarp.org/volunteer/programs/tax-aide/ to complete and submit an interest form. A Maine Tax-Aide leader will contact you to discuss volunteer opportunities in your community.

More questions? Send an email to: patw.taxaide.me@gmail.com.

 

Trek Across Maine Volunteers

Join the Trek Across Maine experience by donating your time this Father’s Day weekend, June 14- 16, 2024. The fundraising event would not be possible without dedicated volunteers! Join the event for a few hours, one day, or all weekend! Meals and rooming are provided for volunteers that participate for more than one day.

Volunteers will get a t-shirt, a volunteer medal, and a Trek Across Maine sticker. All volunteers are encouraged to help with fundraising.  There are new and exciting fundraising incentives offered each year. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities on the route, at the facilities, cheering at the finish line, and at rest stops to support the riders! For more information or to register, please visit Trek Across Maine website or reach out to volunteer manager, Emily Lewis, directly at emily.lewis@lung.org.

 

Maine Primitive Skills School

The School offers a unique opportunity for individuals to reconnect with nature and learn essential skills for outdoor living. By volunteering at the school, members can earn credits towards participating in the school’s courses or just enjoy the benefits of being a member of our community. An upcoming work weekend on May 4th and 5th provides an opportunity for members to get involved in various manual tasks aimed at preparing the school campus for the upcoming season. Tasks include gardening, pruning, path clearing, classroom tidying, campground setup, and more. Those interested can reach out to the school via email at staff@primitiveskills.com to learn more or offer their services.Longer term commitment opportunities include photography, marketing, website design, course support, welcoming committee participation, accommodation assistance, leaflet distribution, public speaking engagements, and support for diverse courses listed on the school’s website. Additionally, the School has a wealth of experience in supporting veterans, making it an ideal environment for MAR members who have served in public service roles. Learn more the school at www.primitiveskills.com 

 

MEALS ON WHEELS

Meals on Wheels primarily provides nutritious meals, a quick safety check and much-needed human connection to homebound seniors age 60 and over.  Meals on Wheels is supplied to communities throughout Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Somerset, and Waldo Counties, plus the towns of Harpswell and Brunswick in Cumberland County. Volunteer drivers are always needed for this essential service. If interested, call Stacey Forkey at 207-620-1684 or email:      volunteer@spectrumgenerations.org

 

FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGAM (TEFAP)

The link below is from Maine State Government, Department of Agriculture. This link lists all the Food Banks in Maine and their locations. If you or someone you know are struggling with the cost of food and need to supplement your groceries and fill your freezer or cupboards, please do not hesitate to go to one of these Food Banks and get what you need. Remember the Banks sole purpose is to give food to those in need. They welcome everyone with a warm smile and are happy to serve you. It is a non-judgmental zone. The amount of food they receive is plenty and they do not want to waste any food left at the Bank.

Please feel free to forward this link to anyone that may need assistance.

Maine Department of Agriculture: TEFAP https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/index.shtml
MAINE.GOV https://www.maine.gov/portal/index.html
DACF Home → Bureaus & Programs → Bureau of Agriculture → Agricultural Resource Development Division → Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) → Search Food Programs → Programs By Town. https://www.maine.gov/dafs/

 

JOIN SOLAR

Join Solar is a leader in community solar development in
Maine and we are proud to partner with the
Maine Association of Retirees.  Our membership is open to all renters and home owners who are serviced by CMP & Versant – offering these benefits:

• Free and simple to join
• Save money on your energy bill
• Support clean, local energy
• Offsite solar array, nothing on your roof

Community solar offers local residents an opportunity to
participate in clean energy production – with guaranteed savings
and no risk involved. Your community solar membership
supports the environment while lowering your utility bills. Click
this link https://enroll.joinsolar.org/community-partner to
learn more and become a member of Join Solar. If you would like
to speak with a Join Solar representative, please contact Michael
Borrell at (651)-364-7185 or michel.borrell@joinsolar.org

*Use referral code ‘MAOR-0250’ upon registration and Join Solar will donate $50 to the Maine Association of Retirees*

 

EDUCATION-MAINE SENIOR COLLEGE

“I like the diversity of courses and faculty of the UMASC. It is a jewel of a resource. Thank you for this program.”  UMASC student feedback, ‘23

UMA Senior College offers exciting, intellectually stimulating non-credit courses and provides a range of exciting learning opportunities for adults over 50+. No grades, no tests, no stress!  And all classes are free with UMASC the annual membership fee of $25.

Over 20 classes are offered every spring and fall semester in seventeen locations across state offering subjects that include history, art, geology, classic films, intuition and metaphysics, languages, and architecture. Just to name a few!

Find thought-provoking discussion groups, traditional-styled lectures, fun exercise and walking sessions, field trips, and special interest groups. If you have something to say and are interested in sharing your knowledge and skills, we are always looking for new instructors!

A typical course will be held once a week for 8 weeks. UMASC also offers a variety of shorter courses. Class formats include in-person, Zoom, and hybrid options.

Registration for the 2024 spring classes opened on Monday, March 4th at noon. Check the UMASC website for a complete listing of classes: UMASC.org

Membership Bonus: Join your nearest senior college to become eligible for classes at sister colleges! Take online courses and meet people from across the state. *Note: Each college gives their members their first choice for classes, and then they open all remaining seats to the network.

SENIORHOMES ORGANIZATION

Looking for senior living can be overwhelming, emotional, and time-consuming.

Staff here at MAR have connected with the Seniorhomes organization and thought their services and information would be extremely helpful in the journey to find the right match for your needs or the needs of a loved one.

This is a nationwide organization that provides a family advisor as a free resource to help you find the right match at your local level.

Along with an Advisor, Seniorhomes has hundreds of articles available to you to help educate you throughout the process.

Seniorhomes helped more than 400,000 seniors since 2009. Their web site provides information on how to determine the level of care you need. They help you explore your financial options and will even schedule a tour with the home that you may be interested in visiting.

Their articles cover subjects such as: Independent Living; Assisted Living; Continuing Care; Memory Care; Retirement
Communities; along with Aging in Place.

Take a moment and click on the link below and explore the information and services they provide.

Here is their link:   https://www.seniorhomes.com/