All Lab Retirees Must Create a New Account on Empyrean’s Website in August 2021
Empyrean, the benefits administrator for all Lab retirees, is changing their website and will not transfer existing account information to their new system. All retirees must create new accounts. Empyrean has sent two letters about this change, dated July 7, and July 21. This change is happening within a short time. Please keep these letters, so you will know how to set up your new account in August.
If you have not received these two letters, please contact Empyrean right away. Empyrean’s phone number is: 1-844-805-0002, and their hours are: Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Mountain Time.
In addition, Empyrean will soon send another letter that will describe how to set up a new auto-pay arrangement for benefits premiums. According to what we have learned, it is essential that all Lab retirees do this by September 1. Once again, this change is happening within a short time.
Whether we like this or not, we all will need to follow the procedures in the letters to assure that our benefits continue. The benefits involved include health, vision, dental, and legal plans.
Note that pension payments are NOT affected by the changes that Empyrean is now making.
A number of retirees have received notices from the University of California (UC) about an “Accellion Data Breach”. This seems to most directly affect retirees who receive their pensions from UC. More information is on the UCnet website (ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/ and click on a topic related to “Update”)
What does this notice mean?
If your pension is from UC, your personal information, as well as that of your spouse and survivors, has likely been part of this data breach. The information that was breached may include: name, address, phone number, birth date, Social Security number, and bank account information. This information is exactly what is needed to carry out Identity Theft. UC believes that the everyone in the UC community (Staff, Students, Retirees, and affiliates) may be affected, and it may be difficult, or impossible, to identify each person who has had their information breached. In addition to UC, about 100 other organizations have been affected by a similar vulnerability.
As far as we know now, the personal information of non-UC retirees (CalPERS, and LANS/Triad) is not part of this data breach. Nevertheless, research is continuing and more people may be found to be affected. Continue reading
LRG seeks new editor for “The Main Gate” newsletter.
The March issue of LRG’s “The Main Gate” will be the last for our current editor, Joyce Wolff. We are urgently looking for someone to carry on with editing of the newsletter. Ideally, a prospective editor would be alert to subjects of interest to retirees, and be interested in pursuing these topics with interviews, photos, etc. Also ideally, they would enjoy writing, and have reasonable familiarity with word processing software on a pc or Mac.
How the Main Gate is prepared
The Main Gate is published three times a year, in March, July and November.
A typical issue has ten pages, though some recent issues have had 12 pages, with articles on particularly interesting topics.
Retirees who have AD&D insurance through LANL: The separately billed Hartford AD&D (accidental death) insurance has been changed to MetLife. Coverage remains the same. The insurance is and has been billed separately and not through Empyrean. Not everyone has this insurance. There was no notice to retirees of this change. By now, all subscribers should have received a billing notice from MetLife. We have heard that the deadline for the first payment is January 13. Please arrange with your bank for electronic transfer from your bank, or send a check. Include your account number. For further information, contact MetLife Subscriber Services at 1-866-492-6983. Address is Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., P. O. Box 13724, Philadelphia, PA 19101-3724.
We have been informed by Laboratory benefits group that the open enrollment for Lab retirees will be a passive open enrollment this year. They stated specifically “This year’s open enrollment for our retirees will be a passive enrollment, if you have no changes, then you do not need to do anything for next year’s benefit enrollment. We will not be holding any virtual presentations for retirees this year. Open Enrollment for our retirees will run from October 26 – November 12, 2020. Letters will be mailed out to our retirees to remind them of the upcoming open enrollment event.” Therefore, if you plan to make any changes in your insurance coverage, you will need to login to the Empyrean website to make the appropriate changes. Follow the instructions that you will receive in the mail soon from Lab Benefits for the open enrollment for your insurance coverage in 2021. If you had any “life events” like death in the family, marriage or remarriage, new dependents, new eligibility for Medicare or others, you will need to contact Empyrean.
We hope all our readers are staying healthy and safe. Please be sure to get any important immunizations you may require, like the influenza shot, pneumonia and shingles shots and any required booster shots like tetanus. Consider the covid-19 vaccine when it is developed and proven effective and safe. Medicare and Lab retiree health insurance will cover most immunizations. Stay safe this Fall and Winter!
Important additional information and clarification about safe and unsafe hand sanitizers that were mentioned in the July 2020 Main Gate. Please note the dangers that may exist.
After the remarks about Covid-19 and hygiene precautions in the July Main Gate were sent to the printer, the FDA issued recalls and warnings about hand sanitizers that contain methanol. We want to clarify the recommendation about hand sanitizer listed under the heading “Hygiene precautions to take now”, on page 2. Methanol (wood alcohol) can be absorbed through the skin, and cause methanol poisoning. Moreover, it is extremely dangerous to ingest (drink). Methanol poisoning can cause nausea, damage to the nervous system (including blindness), and even death. Methanol is considered a contaminant in hand sanitizer, which should only contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol).
To be effective, FDA recommends that hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% ethanol. Hand sanitizer that contains methanol is dangerous to use because of the potential to cause methanol poisoning, especially in children. Unfortunately, even if it is in the hand sanitizer, it may not be listed as an ingredient. We urge caution, especially with hand sanitizer that is imported, such as from Mexico. If possible, stay with a reputable brand, and check the ingredient list. If that list includes methanol, choose a different hand sanitizer.
More information is on an FDA web page: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol
The Laboratory Retiree Group is seeking new members to serve on its Board of Directors. If you are an LRG member and interested in serving on the Board, please contact Dale Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Los Alamos Laboratory Retiree Group will not hold its regular annual meeting in May 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.