First of all, I wish for you and your families health, tranquillity, and peace, even more for the end of year 2022 and the beginning of the year 2023.
The pandemic that has filled our lives for the past two years is being contained and reduced, but as I write these lines the situation in the East of Europe, becomes more and more critical and in our countries the social and financial conditions become very complicated.
As I mentioned in the last message, fortunately, and despite these events, our Association has continued its activities with the same engagement, the same efficacy.
Recently, in good collaboration with the CERN Staff Association, the Committee has been able to move forward with some affairs, always with the aim of preserving the interests of the beneficiaries of the Pension Fund and the Health Insurance Scheme of CERN. In particular members of our committee are strongly involved in the activity concerning the possible solution for pension fund, health insurance and long-term care in case of dissolution of the organization.
The advice and assistance to our members continues to be possible in person, following the directives of CERN for access to the site. Your questions concerning taxation, assistance via the CERN Mutual Aid Fund, pensions and surviving spouse’s pension, health insurance, etc. are most welcome. Every question is treated in the strictest confidence.
Finally, I would once again like to thank all the members of the Committee and other experts for their dedication. I finish this message by welcoming Doris Forkel-Wirth, Fabio Formenti and Jean-Pol Matheys who will join the Committee at the beginning of 2023.
Your President, Enrico CHIAVERI
While usually at this time we happily prepare for the holiday season, this time international events make things gloomier. Indeed, how can we quietly rejoice today, when a war is raging in Europe, bringing blood, tears and refugees. Added to this are all the economic and social difficulties that this conflict brings to our respective countries.
Who would have thought to live - or live again for many of us – such tragic events? No one. That is why it is time to remember, as history teaches us, that nothing is ever taken for granted! And the ongoing global warming will also confirm this adage.
CERN is also suffering from the disastrous effects of this crisis. Energy, materials, services: the cost of all these items has dramatically increased. At its December meeting, the Council will decide on savings measures to be made on the Laboratory’s future budgets. They will obviously affect the experiments in progress, the maintenance of the Site and also the staff. We will, of course, remain very vigilant in safeguarding the interests of pensioners.
In the recent months, as our President writes above, the Committee has met very regularly, and you will see in the following pages that its members have not been idle!
On the other hand, you will not yet have read the story of the efforts made and the progress achieved in recent months in terms of guaranteeing our social protection. The latest news is very encouraging, and we look forward to the decision of the Council at its forthcoming meeting. It will then be time to rejoice and tell you in detail about this saga that lasted for more than twenty years!
At ESO, discussions about the representation and position of pensioners in their Organization are still ongoing. I personally find it appalling that even today an Organization like ESO (CERN’s little sister…) refuses to recognise the EPA as a contact for issues affecting the social protection of its retirees!
After a very successful 2021, the results of the current year will be very different for our Pension Fund. The financial markets, which hate crises, got carried away. You will read below about the consequences for the Fund.
Our representatives at the CHIS Board inform us about several topics that kept them busy in recent months, be it the seasonal flu vaccination, negotiations with health care providers and other topics.
The information sessions to help and give advice to our Group members have resumed in person in the meeting room of the Staff Association. As for what concerns tax matters related to CSG/CRDS social contributions, nothing new on the side of the Courts, the legal situation remains frozen.
It has been a long time since we mentioned the existence of the CERN Mutual Aid Fund. This is done in the next pages. This Committee can provide financial assistance to various people in need, including beneficiaries of the Pension Fund.
You will also discover a new section that will be fed - at the invitation of the Committee - by the UNIQA team, whom I warmly thank for having accepted. Its purpose is to give medical prevention advice targeted on seniors. For this first collaboration, it is the sport accidents that keep us busy.
Under the heading "Good to know…", also new, we present a partnership with the Banque Cantonale de Genève, the situation about vaccination against flu and we remind you about the benefits of the CHIS in case of dependency or long-term care.
And then, as usual, you will find the list of our colleagues who passed away in recent months. Reading the names in this list triggers many memories, pleasant for the most part. And for me, that’s the main point!
I conclude by thanking the few members who paid me compliments following the publication of the spring issue. But the Bulletin is a collective work that involves a large part of the Committee, whether to write, proofread, translate and give you the latest news! Without them, my task would be almost insurmountable, so thanks to them too!
Let us hope together that the approaching festivities will remain what they are intended to be, both a moment of spiritual reflection and a family reunion.
Happy reading, take care of yourself and see you next year!
Marcel Aymon Chief Editor
PAY ATTENTION, PLEASE
Our treasurer reminds you that the annual subscription is
She asks you to favour paying it by standing order via the bank at the date of 7 January
She also reminds you that paying your subscription by a postal order costs money to the Association
Interaction with ESO management
In the beginning of this year ESO created in Garching the position of Social Security Policy Manager, for which they published an internal vacancy. The tasks include the analysis of some social security elements which are of direct interest also for the retirees: pensions, healthcare and long term care. As the internal vacancy notice only mentioned close co-operation with “internal stakeholders” (Admin, HR, Finance and Staff Representatives), I’ve asked the Director of Administration and the Head of HR for clarification, i.e. whether the intent was indeed to have this person liaise as well with the ESO pensioners. The reply was that “The social security policy manager will interact with all internal and external stakeholders relevant for the different topics.” In the meantime Enikö Patkós has filled this position (see also below in the Healthcare section), and we count of course on her involving us directly for all matters affecting the pensioners.
The fact that Enikö took up this position raises another issue, as one of her previous tasks was to control the ESO personal data protection policy. We do not know yet if this task is now assigned to someone else, or if there are plans to create an internal/external vacancy to deal with this. The questions and issues that we have raised relating to the personal data kept by ESO about the pensioners remain so far unanswered.
The EHIS Board met twice since the Spring Bulletin, on 22 May and 5 September. There was no meeting of the Health Working Group. One of the long-term issues that may have to be addressed by the new Social Security Policy Manager is the possibility of reintegration into National healthcare schemes after retiring from ESO. This is easily possible with some member states, like Denmark, but not with others. This issue has been discussed at the EHIS Board but is clearly outside its mandate.
In the past, Cigna has made a general commitment to provide benefits that are not less favourable than those provided by the German national healthcare scheme. One such benefit that was raised recently relates to hearing aids for Children which, we understand, is covered at 100% by the German national scheme but only 80% by Cigna. This will be investigated further and brought up at the annual EHIS-Cigna meeting in November.
The EHISB also discussed - once again - the question of how the Cigna premiums are calculated. As at CERN, the premiums are calculated assuming the maximum pension after 35/37.8 years of service. Staff who have only been employed for a shorter time still pay the same even though their pensions are less. The logic behind this is that pensioners who have worked a shorter time at ESO will also have accumulated pension rights elsewhere. Some pensioners have asked whether the premiums could be based on the actual pension received (from all sources) instead. This data would have to be declared by the staff. As ESO has no way of verifying the accuracy of completeness of the data provided, it would encourage underreporting of income and therefore be disadvantageous for honest declarations not to mention the complex administration required. There are also legal concerns. In short, no satisfactory alternative scheme that is transparent and fair has been proposed or found.
CIGNA response times: In the case of reimbursements, the ESO-Cigna contract specifies a maximum delay of 14 days, but in other matters like the time taken to reply to a request for prior authorization, no such time limit is specified. A Service Level Agreement could be proposed. The ESO Administration will collect statistics on this, also from other Cigna clients such as the EPO, to prepare the basis for discussion with Cigna at the coming annual meeting.
ESO International Staff Association (ISA)
In the previous bulletin (#62) we informed extensively about the pending update of the statutes of the ESO International Staff Association (ISA), and the open issues that we flagged around the definition of the new “Retired Members” category and its representation. For that reason, we had requested the Staff Committee (ISC) to remove all references to the GAC-EPA from the new statutes until such time as we have found a more satisfactory solution.
This latter request for modification was finally accepted by the ISC, and this modified draft of the ISA statutes was then put up to the active staff for vote by the end of June. No surprise in the result, of course: over 2/3 approved these new statutes. The DG acknowledged shortly after that the compatibility of these statutes with the organization’s objectives and framework, after which they were formally adopted as per 1 August 2022.
That doesn’t mean the work is finished now: obviously the role of the GAC-EPA as representative body of retired staff still needs to be clarified in a circular, as we had agreed before with the ISC. During this process it may even become evident that some adjustments to the ISA statutes are required. Note that - contrary to the ISC - the GAC-EPA representative does have a democratic mandate, as (s)he is elected by the GAC-EPA members.
This clarification is still pending, and is fundamental in our relationship with ESO and its Management (see also the top of this article). We hope to start this work soon with the ISC, in a collaborative and constructive spirit.
Mutual Aid Fund
Composition of the committee of the Mutual Aid Fund for 2022
The composition of the committee of the Mutual Aid Fund for 2022 is as follows:
Chair: André Tinoco Mendes
Vice-chair: Sonia Casenove
Treasurer: Marguerite Maitrel
Assistant treasurer: Kate Ross
Secretary: Almudena Solero (Staff Association representative)
Members: Barbara Brugger, Dawn Hudson, Marie-Laure Rivier
The role of this fund is to provide exceptional and punctual financial aid to those who are in need among members of personnel and their families as well as beneficiaries of the Pension Fund and their families.
Should you wish to apply for aid from the Fund, please contact any member of the Board or Social Affairs Services, who will liaise with the Board. You can also directly contact your representatives (Catherine Laverrière and Irene Seis) using the Contact Form, with recipient: Mutual Aid Fund.
All requests are treated in strict confidence.
Catherine Laverrière, person responsible, and Irene Seis, assistant
The GAC-EPA bulletins follow one another and are not necessarily similar with regard to the Pension Fund… While the performance of the Fund’s assets in 2021 was remarkable (+6.59%), the situation changed radically in 2022. No need to explain here the causes of the poor performance in the first half of 2022: high inflation in all countries, massive increase in energy prices, Russian invasion of Ukraine... All this has led to significant volatility in the financial markets, and a significant fall in the values of equities but also bond funds because of the rise in interest rates decided by central banks to try to curb inflation. The consequence is that on July 1, the assets of the Pension Fund showed a decrease of 6.24%.
This fall was mitigated by rapid interventions by the Fund’s managers, who reduced the share of these portfolios (equities and bonds). On the other hand, private equities and hedge funds held up well, which limited underperformance, so that our pension fund is in a good position compared to other Swiss pension funds. (see table below)
The actuary therefore reported a decrease in the coverage of our Fund on 1 July 2022 compared to the beginning of the year: this coverage fell from 77.1% to 71.7%, and the projected coverage in 2041 from 97.1% to 87.7%. However, there is no need to worry too much at this point, and experts believe that over the long term (20 years and more) the average return of 3.7% should not be questioned, nor the inflation rate used in actuarial estimates (1.1%).
Let’s come back to the final results of the triennial actuarial review that were presented to the Finance Committee and the CERN Council in June. As mentioned above, the long-term coverage of our fund estimated in this review on 1 January 2022 is 97.1% in 2041 and 114.4% in 2052, using the actuarial parameters defined during the year 2021. These are very different from the short-term reality of this beginning of 2022 but, once again, these are average parameters over 20 years, and it would be very unwise to change them because of the current bad economic situation, which we hope will improve already in 2023.
The work of the working group on the long-term guarantee of pensions and health insurance in the event of the dissolution of the Organization continues, and it is hoped that this possibility (which is not for the near future, be reassured!) will soon be mentioned in the rules of the CERN Health Insurance (CHIS).
Another working group is currently reviewing several parameters listed in the Rules and Regulations of the Pension Fund, including the transfer value when a member of the Fund leaves the Organization and chooses this option. We will keep you informed of the findings of this review.
As you know, one of the components of the package of measures taken in 2011 to restore the balance of the Fund is the non-indexation or under-indexation of pensions up to 8% (or less for those who retired after 01/01/2012), referred to as the purchasing power loss (PPL). The annual PPL takes into account the increase in the cost of living in Geneva (CVI) between August and August, which stands at 3.1% in 2022, and is likely to be of the same order or even higher in August 2023.
As a result, some beneficiaries will reach their PPL limit more quickly and begin to have their pension indexed sooner than expected as well as reaching the maximum purchasing power loss of 8% more quickly. This rule is quite complex, and the Pension Fund will be sending each beneficiary a personalised explanatory letter as it does every year. Should you have questions on your personal situation, please contact the Fund’s Benefits Service on +41 22 767 88 11 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The CERN Council has asked the Pension Fund Governing Board (PFGB) to propose a definition of the full funding: it is a question of defining the criterion on which basis one will consider that the Fund’s assets are sufficient to cover all future financial obligations up to the last beneficiary, and to do so in a sustainable manner. The results of this reflection should be presented to the Council before the end of 2023.
Finally, we would like to remind you that at the beginning of each year, we must give to the Pension Fund a sign of life by returning the «certificate of life» document sent to us. While most of us do it on time, the Fund must send a reminder to a significant number of retirees. So please send it back as soon as possible, so as not to forget about it.
Monthly return on investment in the last 10 years
The CERN Health Insurance Scheme
The CHIS Board has continued to meet monthly by videoconference until April. Subsequent meetings have been face-to-face, although video remains available for those who cannot attend in person. In addition, an extraordinary session in June allowed the Board to visit UNIQA at their new premises - 26 avenue de la Praille, 1227 Carouge. Morna and David were absent for the August meeting but at least one could attend the others.
CERN still maintains its COVID-19 website. Although mainly devoted to site-related information, the website also has links to the official information for France and Switzerland. If you have any doubt for a country, it may be best to contact their nearest Embassy.
It is pleasing to report that, after much discussion, the GRAD program is being introduced without significant financial impact on CHIS. This is reflected in the latest revision of the CHIS Rules dated 1 September 2022 which shows that Graduates have simply been added alongside staff members and Fellows.
In line with the reinforced recognition that the CERN medical service should only intervene for occupational medicine, as from this year influenza vaccination is only being offered free of charge to those working on-site. Influenza vaccination is of course widely available by traditional routes. As regards COVID-19, thanks to the evolution of the pandemic, general vaccination at CERN was terminated in March, although vaccination is still possible for individual cases by prior agreement.
The introduction of the SwissDRG charging system for Swiss hospitals and clinics is implying the renegotiation of the 5-year agreements with approved health care providers when they come up for renewal. So far this has gone without difficulty for all except Hopital La Tour, whose initial offer was substantially higher than the others on the unsubstantiated grounds of superior quality. We owe many thanks to the CERN CHIS Administration for a successful outcome. Thanks to their perseverance, along with the other International Organizations, an acceptable offer was finally obtained, and the new 5-year agreement has now been signed.
Here is a case where immobility represents the cruising speed of its journey!
As already detailed in Bulletin No. 62, this is the case for our appeal filed in November 2021 with the Social Court of Bourg-en- Bresse, following the refusal of CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) to issue proof of non-affiliation to retirees who have chosen to remain covered by the CERN Health Insurance System. According to the recent news received by our lawyer, this case is not likely to be examined - at best - before two years!
Concerning taxes, while some succeeded to obtain reimbursements of social security contributions (CSG/CRDS) on their CERN pension, others are still waiting.
Several members told us that they encountered difficulties in completing their French tax declaration. On our website under C2S , we provide you with two documents (pdf, in French only) to help you in this process:
Finally, if you receive pensions from both CERN and France, always remember that the total social security contributions on your CERN pension will be capped. It may not exceed the amount of the French pension (read Document 1).
After a period disturbed by the pandemic, the sessions have resumed as before, in the meeting room of the Staff Association between 13:30 and 16:00.
The dates can be found on the calendar at the GAC-EPA website.
UNIQA Health Advice
On the invitation of the GAC-EPA, UNIQA is pleased to share with you their experience in the area of health prevention and information for senior people.
This first part focuses on preventing accidents when practising sports.
It is a common saying that practising sports keeps you in good health. Having physical activities is essential for a long life, but sports become a potentially riskier activity with age. Adapting to changing physical conditions is required to avoid accidents which may have serious consequences.
The CHIS statistics show year after year a growing number of accidents concerning senior people. Of course the retired population covered by the CHIS is growing but this fact evidences the major impact of accidents on one’s health. We do not keep details of what caused these accidents, but we know they are more often due to sports than to accidents at home. Although few of them result in deadly issues, recovery may take long and leave permanent after-effects.
In our alpine region a very large number of mountaineering and winter sports accidents are reported, with cycling accidents coming next. Numerous CERN retirees practice such activities either within a club or individually.
Joints injuries are the most frequent, especially among senior sportsmen, as well as head injuries, which is why wearing a helmet is necessary when cycling or skiing.
Data from the BPA show that about 100% of children wear a helmet, but this percentage decreases with age, it is only 80% for seniors (according to 2021/2022 BPA statistics). Head injuries may be the most serious, so please protect yourself.
Except if not advised, practising sports or a physical activity for at least 2h30 if at a moderate level or 1h15 if at a more intensive level is a weekly recommendation.
A moderate level is (for example)
High intensity is (for example)
cardiovascular training on fitness machines
A good balance and powerful muscles also reduce the risk of falling and facilitate many daily activities. In case you stumbleit is then also easier to catching your balance again.
Specific advice applies to hiking:
Especially in the mountains, hiking is more demanding than usually believed.
You should consider the difficulty level of the hike, the track and weather conditions.
Have someone informed about the planned hike, especially if you go alone.
Select a route that fits your ability
You will enjoy your hike if you do not overestimate yourself. Be realistic in evaluating your ability and that of other members in your group, and select a route in accordance.
Walking duration required (excluding breaks) is based on the following rules:
Uphill slope: 15 minutes for 100 meters height
Downhill slope: 15 minutes for 200 meters height
Horizontal distance: 15 minutes for 1 kilometer
When planning a difficult hike, you had better go with one or several persons. Take adapted equipment and stay alert.
The more you are tired, the less safe you are on your feet. Don’t forget to have regular breaks, to drink and to eat. Do you stick to your planned timetable? Are the weather conditions good enough? Is the track in good condition? Are all group members still fit? If the answer to one of these questions is negative, go back or choose another route when it is still time.
To conclude, sportsmen grow old in better conditions, practising a physical activity is beneficial when aging: persons who keep fit have lower risks of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or back pains for example.
Therefore, move your body, yes, but stay alert and be careful!
Your UNIQA team
Good to know…
Partnership with the BCGE
Since many years, the CERN Staff Association (SA) has concluded an agreement called “Business Partner” with the Banque Cantonale de Genève (BCGE). This arrangement provides several financial advantages, the only condition to participate was to be an active member of the CERN personnel, as well as member of the SA.
Following numerous discussions and insistent requests from the SA, the BCGE finally proposed to formalize that retired members of the SA can also join this agreement. Very good news since, automatically, we are all members of the Staff Association through our annual subscription to the GAC-EPA, part of which is transferred to the SA which supports our association.
In practice, it will be enough for those interested to go to the SA Secretariat in the Main Building to obtain an account opening form and have it stamped, thus certifying your affiliation. This validation is necessary before making an appointment in any BCGE branch in Geneva to finalize the opening of your account or convert an existing account into a Business Partner account.
You can also obtain this form by sending an email to email@example.com so that you can fill it in at leisure at home. You can use the same email address in case you wish to find out more about the advantages of this Business Partner agreement. But you will still have to pass at the SA Secretariat to get the stamp on the document.
Seasonal Flu Vaccination
In autumn 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, CERN offered all CHIS members the opportunity to be vaccinated against flu on the Meyrin site. One reason was the shortage of vaccine doses at that time. But this possibility had also been set up so that CHIS pensioners and family members could have access to this prevention outside their national health systems.
However, this fall, things have improved, and these difficulties are only a bad memory. Therefore, CERN has decided not to repeat this general vaccination campaign. Only people who work on site will be able to benefit from it.
Thus, to be vaccinated, the CERN pensioners, as in the past, will have to go to their doctor or a pharmacy to receive this injection.
Important: Following an agreement between CHIS and UNIQA, vaccination in pharmacies can be done WITHOUT a doctor’s prescription. It will be sufficient to submit a pharmacy invoice to be reimbursed according to the CHIS rules.
Dependency/Long-term care (LTC)
The Committee regularly receives requests from persons, often friends of one of our Members who live alone without any close family and who have to tackle increasingly different problems concerning their health.
These caring friends, often former colleagues, want to know what to do in such cases. Problems can get even worse when a sudden stroke or progressive loss of intellectual faculties, as happens with Alzheimer illness, or of mobility, as in the case of Parkinson’s disease, happens.
Long-term care is the answer, the only answer, that is to say the benefits of the CHIS in the case of dependence and long-term medical care. The possible benefits are varied according to the degree of ability to perform the ordinary functions of everyday life. In Chapter 10 of the CHIS Rules all the details are explained. You can consult these Rules on the CHIS website see in the menu under Your Benefits.
These benefits have come to the aid of many Members since they came into force in January 2001! So, don’t hesitate to contact the CERN Social Services who, after visiting the person concerned and with support of his/her medical practitioner, will make a request to the CHIS medico-social panel. The panel will distinguish the level of dependence and subsequent benefits both medical and financial which may be granted.
Above all, remind your family members of this generous health insurance cover before any such difficulties arise.
The editorial staff is in no way responsible for the texts, drawings, graphics and photos published. The sole responsibilty lies with the authors. All elements constituting this publication are the property of GAC‑EPA and cannot be used without the express written authorization of the publisher.