The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity released an email titled Resources for Workers and Employers Affected by COVID-19. Below is the complete email with key links to important COVID-19 resources for Michigan Employees regarding Filing for Unemployment as well as several resources for Michigan Employers:

Dear Michigan employees and employers,

Governor Whitmer, in an effort to protect all Michiganders, today signed Executive Order 2020-21 that directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible. A summary of her, "Stay Home, Stay Safe,” Executive Order is available online. 

For purposes of this order, critical infrastructure workers are those workers described by the Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his guidance of March 19, 2020 on the COVID-19 response.

Below you will find available resources for workers and employees affected by COVID-19. If you have questions related to the governor’s order or the resources below, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We will continue to do everything we can to provide economic relief to employees and businesses affected by COVID-19.

Jeff Donofrio, 

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor                                                              Stuart Raider talks to MAFF members about retirement planning.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

While it’s true our experiences in life impact our financial decisions, having a plan for retirement isn’t something anyone should go without.

That’s the message Stuart Raider and Peter Mendler recently shared with MAFF members. The Raider Dennis Agency President and Vice President encourage all members to come in for a free financial analysis and thorough retirement plan, so they are ready when it’s time to retire.

“This is something that is available to all MAP, MAPE and MAFF members that are dues paying,” Mendler said.

Raider’s father, Jordan, was only 7-years-old when his own dad passed away unexpectedly. “He learned about financial and emotional hardship,” Raider said.

Those hardships inspired Jordan to build a successful financial planning business, thus inspiring Stuart to follow in his footsteps with the business and get a college education at Michigan State University. “It taught me a lesson about responsibility for my clients,” Raider said.

Mendler experienced a similar upbringing to Raiders’ father. A former IRS Agent, current attorney and financial planner, Mendler was only 5-years-old when his parents divorced. His dad passed away when he was 12. “I went to live with my grandparents,” Mendler said. “I felt like a charity case. I learned what it was like to feel needy, vulnerable. I’ve worked my whole life to never feel like I’m in that position again.”

His grandfather inspired his financial career. “My grandfather instilled in me the value of saving,” Mendler said. “As we face retirement, we don’t want to run out of money.”

Both partners in the Raider Dennis Agency are fiduciaries. They are held to a higher standard of education, knowledge and responsibility to provide individuals with financial plans that will see them through retirement. “A fiduciary is legally bound to act in your best interests,” Mendler said. “Stuart and I are fiduciaries. We take it very seriously to uphold that trust we’re held up to. Not every financial advisor is a fiduciary.”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Having a pension is an important part of a successful retirement savings plan, but something many employers are taking away from their workers and replacing with 401k plans. In the public safety realm, pensions are an even more crucial component of retirement since a majority of these employees are not eligible for Social Security benefits. MAFF works hard to maintain Defined Benefit (DB) plans, a type of pension plan, for its members.

When 401k plans were introduced to employees in the 1980s, it was never the intent of early backers that these would replace pensions. “401k’s were not designed to take the place of (pensions),” said MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner. “If all people have is a 401k and Social Security, that will not be enough to maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.”

In an effort to save money, employers are substituting these market-based plans for pensions. The problem is market volatility can negatively impact 401k savings compared to the steady growth of a DB plan.

President Stuart E. Raider (left) and Partner Peter M. Mendler of Raider Dennis Agency.

“(Pensions are) the most important part because they’re not environmentally changed,” said Stuart Raider of Raider Dennis Agency. “The Defined Benefit is a payout based on a formula, like Social Security. Social Security is the cornerstone of most people’s retirement, although most police and fire aren’t eligible to receive this benefit.”

“One of the advantages is the Defined Benefit puts all of the responsibility of the risk on the employer,” Raider said.That makes DB’s even more important to public safety employees, assuring them a certain amount of money will be set aside for their retirement. The plan is ‘defined’ because the formula for calculating the employer’s contribution is known ahead of time. However, DB’s are different from other pensions, where the amount of payout depends on the return of the funds invested. If there is a shortfall from investments set aside to fund the employee’s retirement, employers must make up the difference.

But that doesn’t mean DB plans will become a hardship for the employer, Timpner said. “If a DB plan is properly funded by the parties, then there could be minimal or no cost at all to the employer,” Timpner said. “For example, the City of Sterling Heights went years without putting one cent into the pension fund. There were no employer contributions due to the fact that the pension fund was overfunded.”

Some employers are opting instead for Defined Contribution (DC) plans, which are 401k plans. DC plans allow employers the option of making contributions at their discretion and they don’t assume any of the market risks of losses - the employee assumes all the risks. Another drawback of DC plans for employees is that they are accessible to workers before they retire, unlike DB plans.

Are You Ready To Retire?

President Stuart E. Raider (left) and Partner Peter M. Mendler of Raider Dennis Agency.

Many of us think age dictates when we retire, and it does in those jobs/professions that have mandatory retirement ages. Some of us have pre-set ages in our minds; 55, 60, 62, 65. These ages can be based on reaching a certain number of years of service (i.e. 30 and out) or when your mom or dad retired; what your spouse expects, or tradition. But the question is.....are you ready?

There are two viewpoints to consider with this question: The inner you and the financial you. Both are equally important.

The Inner You

This is the area of ego (especially for us men), emotion, psychology, feeling productive, etc. We have worked all our adult lives, contributed to society, made the world a better place, and now we are done. The sudden end to the positive feelings we get from being productive can be difficult to deal with. What makes me important if I don’t have my career? Or what makes me significant if I’m not bringing home the paycheck? We must remind ourselves that we still have important meaningful roles to fulfill as spouse, parent and grandparents - our best roles! We can become invaluable assets to charities, such as churches, hospitals and children’s organizations.

What we have observed that what works best is to have some type of passion that occupies at least a part of the 168 hours God gives us every week and also occupies a portion of our minds.

When clients come to see us near retirement they will tell us of the thing that they will throw themselves into (i.e. golf) and will do this every day (36 holes a day!). Guess what happens? After two or three months (or four or five) they are sick of the activity. So when people tell us they are going to retire, we always engage them in two different, but equally important questions.

1. Are you aware retirement is an irrevocable decision? Once you retire, if you change your mind in six months your job will probably not be waiting for you. Be sure of your decision!
2. Imagine tomorrow is you first day of retirement. What does it look like? What are you doing? How do you feel?

If you are planning to retire in the next year think about these questions very thoughtfully. It is critically important that you mentally prepare for retirement just like you would a marathon or big test.

Pre-retirement counseling, insurance information

Preparing for the future is essential for today's fire fighters, particularly in an era when they are able to retire younger than ever before. That is why the Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) offers its members, without charge, pre-retirement counseling emphasizing pension maximization.

Professional financial planning is offered at no cost to all members via a professional relationship with expert Stuart Raider of Raider Dennis Agency. He assists MAFF members in such vital areas as pre-retirement planning.

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