If you leave state service before you are vested, there are options available to you:

Take a Refund

You may receive a refund of your accumulated retirement contributions, with 20% deducted for federal taxes. If you take a refund, you lose all rights associated with membership. There may be additional tax penalties if you take a direct refund of your contributions. You may wish to consult with the IRS or your tax advisor for specific information and guidance.

Request a Rollover to a Qualified Retirement Account

Alternatively, you can have your accumulated retirement contributions "rolled over" or transferred directly into a tax-qualified IRA or other qualified retirement vehicle. Under certain circumstances, there may be a penalty for early withdrawal.

Interest Received

If you entered service after January 1, 1984, you are eligible for a refund of the interest credited to your account according to the following schedule:

  1. If you have less than ten (10) years of creditable service and you VOLUNTARILY terminated service, you will be credited with 3% interest on your total deductions.
  2. If you have more than ten (10) years of creditable service or you INVOLUNTARILY withdraw from state service your deductions will be credited with regular interest. Also, if you have ten (10) or more years of creditable service, call the State Board of Retirement - you may be vested and eligible for retirement benefits at age 55.

No interest will accrue to your account after two years from the date of your separation from employment.

Become a Deferred Retiree or an Inactive Member

If you leave state service after you are vested, you may leave your retirement contributions in the system and receive a state pension at age 55.

If you are not yet vested but believe you will return to state service, you can leave your contributions in the System. Benefits of leaving your contributions in the System include protecting your contribution rate from future increases and no loss of state service.

If you choose to leave your contributions in the System, please be sure to update any change of addresses for you and your beneficiaries with the Board so that we can contact you from time to time to update you on the status of your account. The Board is currently in search of beneficiaries of members who left their account in the System and have since passed away.

Download the Refund/Rollover Application pdf format of Download the Refund/Rollover Application

Returning to State Service after Taking a Refund

If you return to state service after taking a refund, you may have to satisfy certain service requirements before you are eligible for particular retirement benefits. You would not be eligible to receive a retirement allowance until you have been in active membership service for at least two consecutive years following the start of your new employment with the Commonwealth unless you meet one of the applicable exceptions. Please see our section on buying back creditable service.


The Refund/Rollover Department is located in our Boston office. Walk-in appointments are available Monday through Friday. You may also call the office at telephone 617-367-7770 x7