Allowance Options A, B, and C (MSRB)

At retirement you must choose one of three options, which will determine how your retirement benefits will be paid.


Review these options carefully and determine which is best for you and your family.

  • You cannot change your option after your retirement date.
  • If upon retirement, you do not select an option, the law provides that you will be retired with Option B.
  • Your retirement allowance must be paid to you in lifetime monthly payments.
  • The amount of the payments will depend upon your option selection.
  • The option you choose will also determine what benefits, if any, will be paid to survivors after your death.
  • There are no restrictions on an election of an option for most members.
  • If you are married, your spouse is required to sign the option form consenting to your choice and verifying that he/she understands the option.
  • If you are not married, you will need someone else to sign your option form as your witness. Your witness cannot be your beneficiary.
  • Members of the Judiciary should consult with Board staff regarding the availability of options A, B, or C for your retirement benefits.

Option A - No Survivor Benefit

Option A will provide you with your full retirement allowance in monthly payments as long as you live. However, all allowance payments stop when you die and no benefits are provided to survivors.

Option B - Protects Your Annuity

Option B provides a lifetime allowance to you that is approximately 1% to 5% less per month than Option A.* The annuity portion of your allowance is reduced to allow a benefit for your beneficiary. Upon your death, your surviving beneficiary of record, or if there is no beneficiary living, the person or persons appearing in the judgment of the State Retirement Board to be entitled, will be paid the remaining balance of your accumulated total deductions from your annuity reserve account.

Approximate Reduction  1% 3% 5%
Age of Member 50 60 70

During your retirement, the balance in your annuity savings account decreases by an amount equal to the annuity portion of your pension. In most cases, your annuity savings account will be depleted after 15 years. Upon your death, the balance remaining in your account will be paid in a lump sum to your beneficiary or your estate. If your annuity savings account is depleted while you are receiving your allowance, you will continue to receive your full Option B pension for life; but your beneficiary will not receive any payment upon your death.

You may choose more than one person as your Option B beneficiary and this beneficiary does not need to be related to you. You may change your Option B beneficiary at any time, even after you retire.

Option C - Joint Survivor Allowance

Option C, also known as the joint and last survivor allowance, provides you with a lifetime allowance approximately 7-15% less than that which you would receive under Option A. However, this reduction could be greater depending on the age difference between you and your beneficiary. Upon your death, your designated beneficiary will be paid a monthly allowance for the remainder of his or her life. The survivor benefit will be equal to two-thirds of the allowance that was being paid to you at the time of your death.

Your monthly allowance received under Option C depends upon life expectancy factors for you and your designated beneficiary. Eligible beneficiaries under Option C include: spouse, parent, unmarried former spouse, sibling or child.

The Option C factor used for calculating your retirement benefit is based on the nearest birthday of the retiree and the beneficiary. For example: for a retiring member who is 58 years and 8 months old, and beneficiary who is 57 years and 2 months old, the factor used would be age 59 for the retiring member and age 57 for the beneficiary.

Special circumstances concerning Option C:

If you choose Option C and your beneficiary predeceases you, you cannot name a different Option C beneficiary. However, your monthly benefit will “pop up” to the Option A benefit amount that you would have received on the date of your retirement, plus any cost-of-living adjustments. The new, higher amount is then paid to you as of the date of the death of your beneficiary and until you die.

Final Benefit Payment After Retiree/Survivor Death

Upon the death of a retiree/survivor a prorated payment may be issued to their estate. The prorated payment would be for the number of days the retiree/ survivor lived in the month of his/her death. However, in some instances there may be an amount owed to the Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System. You cannot name a designated beneficiary for this payment.

Age of Member 55 65 65 70 70
Age of Beneficiary 55 55 65 65 70
Approximate % of Option A Benefit 94% 84% 89% 83% 86%

Pension Estimate Calculator

This pension calculator will give members of the Massachusetts Employees' State Retirement System in groups 1, 2 or 4 an approximation of their retirement benefits.
The calculators provide estimates for members of the State Employees Retirement System (1) who entered service before April 2, 2012; and (2) entered service on or after April 2, 2012. 

Click here to go to the Pension Estimate Calculator main page.

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