Public employees who are members of a Massachusetts public retirement system can qualify for a retirement benefit once they meet certain requirements. Keep reading to learn more about the steps you need to take to apply for your retirement benefits.
- Membership in a contributory retirement system is mandatory for nearly all Massachusetts public employees who are regularly employed on a full-time basis.
- Membership for part-time and other employees is determined by your local retirement board.
- As a member, you must contribute to your annuity savings fund.
- Contributions are mandatory and automatically deducted.
- You earn creditable service for your time worked. For example, if you work one year full-time, you earn one year of creditable service.
- Part-time service is prorated. For example, a half-time employee who works one year will earn 6 months of creditable service.
Qualifying for a Retirement Benefit
To qualify for a retirement benefit you must be vested in your retirement system.
Vesting means you have met the minimum service requirements to qualify for a benefit. For most members, that means you have a minimum of 10 years of full-time creditable service. You would still have to meet the minimum age requirements.
The basic formula for a benefit is made up of:
- Your benefit rate (age at retirement and your group classification)
- your years of creditable service
- your salary average
To get more information on these factors, we recommend you read our Public Employee Retirement Guides:
- If your membership date is prior to April 2, 2012
- If your membership date is on or after April 2, 2012
You can do a quick calculation on the State Retirement Board's calculator to get an idea of what your benefit might be.
Key Actions for Qualifying for a Retirement Benefit
Choosing a Retirement Option
- Provides the highest benefit for the member
- There is no survivor benefit
- Provides a slightly lower benefit for the member
- Member can select any beneficiary to receive the balance of their annuity savings fund upon their death
- Beneficiary can be any individual or entity, such as a charity
- Member's benefit is determined by a calculation of the member's age and the beneficiary's age
- You can only name ONE beneficiary
- To qualify, your beneficiary must be your:
- Unmarried former spouse
- Sister or brother
- Mother or father
- The beneficiary will receive two-thirds of your monthly retirement allowance for the rest of their life upon your death
- If the beneficiary dies before you then your allowance will "pop up" to the higher Option A amount.
- You cannot name a new Option C beneficiary.
Key Actions for Choosing a Retirement Option
Applying to Retire
"Superannuation" is the term that is used to describe the process of being retired upon reaching a certain age and meeting other requirements, including the length of creditable service.
Among the documents your retirement board may require to process your application are:
- Your birth certificate
- Your veteran's discharge papers (if applicable or not already on file)
- Veterans may be eligible for additional benefits
- Your beneficiary's birth certificate, if choosing Option C
- Your marriage certificate, if your Option C beneficiary is your spouse
- Proof of age for any dependent children, if applicable
- Verification of student status for any dependent children, if applicable
Your retirement application and relevant forms must be submitted to your retirement system for processing.
Complete your buyback payments
- If you are in the process of buying back prior public service, make sure you have made all your payments before your retirement date.
Notify your employer
- If you are currently working, make sure to notify your employer of your retirement date
Key Actions for Applying to Retire
Other things to consider
- Contact the Group Insurance Commission to inform them of your retirement
- State Taxes - your pension is not subject to Massachusetts state tax
- Federal Taxes - your pension is federally taxable for contributions made after 1/12/1988
- You will complete a W-4P form upon retirement for your federal tax withholding
- You can update your W-4P at any time
- Consult a tax professional for guidance
- Instead of receiving a W2 from your employer, you will receive a 1099-R from your retirement system for tax filing purposes
- Once your application is processed and approved, you will receive your check on the last day of the month
- If you plan on collecting Social Security benefits, you must contact them for guidance
Working After Retirement
- See our guide for restrictions on post-retirement employment for public retirees
Leaving public service before vesting
- Once you leave public service you are entitled to request a refund of your contributions
- You can also leave your funds on account with your retirement system to preserve your membership rights
- If you have the minimum years of service but are not old enough to retire, you can apply to retire at a later date, once you reach the required minimum age even if you are not currently employed, provided you have not taken a refund
Key Actions for Other things to consider
You may need one or more of the following forms or guides to complete the retirement process or search for a form on the PERAC forms page.