FAQs

FAQs

Why does the MTRS do this?

The Massachusetts retirement law requires that the MTRS perform, at least once every two years, a verification of all retirees and beneficiaries who receive a monthly benefit (840 CMR 15.01 ).

While in past years we performed this process on an annual basis, in calendar year 2010, the Board suspended its annual verification policy in order to reduce costs. We now perform this process once every two years, as allowed by PERAC regulations (840 CMR 15.01 ). As always, we will continue to be vigilant and use available resources to help achieve the purpose of the benefit verification process.

What is the purpose?

Our job is to pay the appropriate retirement or survivor allowance to the unique person who earned the particular benefit. In some cases, we have discovered that, after a retiree has died, a family member has continued to collect benefits—even though that family member is not eligible for any survivor benefits. In order to ensure that benefits are still being paid to the correct individuals, by law, we must confirm that the intended recipients are still alive and, therefore, eligible to receive benefits.

This is a very serious process, intended to prevent the fraudulent collection of pension benefits by ineligible parties.

If I receive a form in the mail, do I HAVE to complete and return it?

Yes. If you receive a form from us, you most definitely have to complete and return it. If you do not return your completed form by the due date indicated on the form, your benefit may be interrupted or discontinued.

Why does my signature have to be notarized?

Because the very serious purpose of this process is to ensure that we are paying benefits to the individuals who are entitled to them—in other words, that “you,” the person who earned the benefit, are “you,” the person who is receiving the benefit—it is necessary that your signature be witnessed by a notary public: a public servant who is legally responsible for verifying your identification.

Can I fax my Benefit Verification Form to the MTRS?

No—for several reasons: we need your original, notarized signature on file; the returned Benefit Verification Forms are being processed by a third-party vendor; and, faxes introduce the possibility of erroneous duplication.

Regarding the “Return by” date—does my Benefit Verification Form have to be postmarked or received by that date?

Received, so we encourage you not to wait until the last minute to return your form. To ensure proper delivery of your form to our vendor, please use the pre-addressed reply envelope that we provide.

I misplaced the pre-addressed reply envelope. To what address must I return my form?

Please return your form to:

   Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System
   c/o Benefit Verification Processing Coordinator
   One Charles Park
   Cambridge, MA  02142

Will the MTRS acknowledge receipt of my Benefit Verification Form?

Yes. Within four to six weeks after we have received and processed your completed form in our database, we will send you a postcard acknowledging the receipt of your form. We suggest that you make a photocopy of your form before you return it.

Where can I find a notary public? How much will it cost to have my form notarized?

You can usually find someone who is a notary in businesses and offices that regularly handle legal documents, such as in:

  • city and town clerks’ offices,
  • local banks, real estate offices and attorneys’ offices, and
  • travel agencies.

In Massachusetts, notaries may charge no more than $1.25 for noting and recording a document (M.G.L. c. 262, s. 41). Notaries are public servants, expected to perform a public service at a reasonable cost. If you have any questions about Massachusetts notaries, please go to Find a Notary Public or, contact:

       Secretary of the Commonwealth, Public Records Division
       One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
       Boston, MA  02108
       Phone: 617-727-2836

If you are not in Massachusetts at the time that you are completing your form, please have your signature notarized by an appropriate official in the state (or country) where you are located. (In other words, your form does not need to be notarized by a Massachusetts notary.)

I am caring for a benefit recipient who is housebound and unable to obtain a notary’s signature. What should we do?

If the benefit recipient is housebound and is unable to obtain a notary’s signature, please:

  • review and complete Sections 1 and 2 of the form with the benefit recipient,
  • have the benefit recipient sign Section 3,
  • obtain a letter from the benefit recipient’s physician stating that he or she is under the doctor’s care and is housebound, and
  • return the Benefit Verification Form and physician’s letter in the reply envelope enclosed with the form.

The benefit recipient is in a nursing home and is unable to obtain a notary’s signature. What should we do?

If the benefit recipient is in a nursing home and is unable to obtain a notary’s signature, please:

  • review and complete Sections 1 and 2 of the form with the benefit recipient,
  • have the benefit recipient sign Section 3,
  • obtain a letter, signed by the director and one other administrator of the nursing home, stating that the benefit recipient is in a nursing home, and
  • return the Benefit Verification Form and nursing home’s letter in the reply envelope enclosed with the form.

The Benefit Recipient is deceased, or under guardianship or conservatorship or has assigned power of attorney to another person. What should we do?

If the person to whom the Benefit Verification Form is addressed is deceased, or under guardianship or conservatorship or has assigned power of attorney to another person, a survivor or the appropriate responsible person needs to complete and return the form. Please note:

  • You do not need to complete anything on the front of the form.
  • Please review the instructions in the shaded box on the back of the form, then check one of the two boxes to indicate the status of the Benefit Recipient
  • If the Benefit Recipient is deceased, please call our Contact Center at 617-679-6890 as soon as possible.
  • As noted, please attach the requested documentation, sign and date the form, and then submit this information in the envelope provided.