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Audit Audit of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS)

This audit examined if MTRS ensured that members received their first pension payments within established timeframes and promptly identified deceased retirees and beneficiaries and subsequently adjusted or terminated benefit payments accurately in accordance with state laws. The audit examined the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.

Organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: October 14, 2021

Executive Summary

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS) is the largest contributory retirement system in the Commonwealth. According to its website, MTRS provides “retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to Massachusetts teachers, administrators and their families.” MTRS is administered by the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board, and it is overseen and regulated by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission. In fiscal year 2019, MTRS issued more than $3 billion in benefit payments to more than 67,000 retirees and survivors.

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of MTRS for the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.1 The purpose of our audit was to determine whether (1) MTRS ensured that members received their first pension payments within the timeframe established by Section 13(1)(b) of Chapter 32 of the General Laws, (2) MTRS ensured that adjustments made to monthly benefit payments after the issuance of the first payments were completed accurately in accordance with Section 5(2) of Chapter 32 of the General Laws, and (3) MTRS promptly identified deceased retirees and beneficiaries and subsequently adjusted or terminated benefit payments accurately in accordance with Section 12(2) of Chapter 32 of the General Laws.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1
 

MTRS did not always make initial benefit payments within the mandated timeframe.

Recommendation
 

MTRS should examine the benefit of redeploying existing resources toward processing retirement applications that are received 60 days or less before proposed retirement dates in an effort to achieve a higher percentage of “compliant” retirements.2

Finding 2
 

MTRS made approximately $1,470 of monthly benefit payments to a member whose account contained an invalid Social Security number (SSN).

Recommendations
 

  1. MTRS should correct the member’s SSN in MyTRS and issue a corrected Form 1099-R to both the member and the Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  2. MTRS should ensure that all benefits are paid and reported to the IRS under the correct SSN.

 

A PDF copy of the audit of the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System is available here.

 

1.     Generally accepted government auditing standards require that organizations be free from organizational impairments to independence with respect to the entities they audit. Under Section 16 of Chapter 15 of the General Laws, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement Board consists of seven members, including the State Auditor. This disclosure is made for informational purposes only, and this circumstance did not interfere with our ability to perform our audit work and report its results impartially.

2.     For audit testing purposes, we defined “compliant” as “processed within 62 days.” By statute, the timeframe for compliance can range from 28 to 62 days depending on the day of the month a retirement is effective, as outlined in the “Overview of Audited Entity” section of this report under “Retirement Application Process.”

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