Group Classification FAQ'S (MSRB)

Group Classification Frequently Asked Questions

1. WHAT IS GROUP CLASSIFICATION?

State pension rules and state law permit a member of a public retirement system to request a retirement board classify their creditable service into one of four possible groups.

2. HOW CAN GROUP CLASSIFICATION AFFECT MY RETIREMENT BENEFITS?

The classification of some or all your creditable service increases the age factor used to calculate a retirement allowance, which will increase your eventual benefit.

3. WHAT ARE THE FOUR GROUPS?

Group 1 includes positions such as clerical, administrative, managerial, and technical workers, laborers, mechanics, and all other positions which are not otherwise classified;

Group 2 includes positions such as probation officers, court officers, certain correctional positions whose regular and major duties require the care, custody, instruction or supervision of prisoners, and certain other positions who spend the majority of their time providing direct care, custody, instruction or supervision of persons with mental illness, persons with developmental disabilities, and incarcerated persons. Those seeking Group 2 classification must be at least 55 years of age to be considered. Note: DCF Social Workers (A,B,C, or D) must have been actively employed on July 2, 2012, and must have 10 years of service in the position to qualify for Group 2;

Group 3 includes only State Police officers;

Group 4 includes certain public safety officers and officials, correction officers and certain other correction positions, and parole officers or parole supervisors. Group 4 is primarily title driven, which means that eligibility for Group 4 generally requires your position’s title to be included in the relevant statute M.G.L. Chapter 32 Section 3(2)(g). A full list can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleIV/Chapter32/Section3. Those seeking Group 4 classification must be at least 45 years old to be considered.

4. WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BE CLASSIFIED GROUP 2, OR GROUP 4 FOR THE POSITION I HOLD AT RETIREMENT?

FOR MEMBERS WHO JOINED STATE SERVICE BEFORE APRIL 2, 2012:

Active employees who joined state service before April 2, 2012, group classification depends on the position held by a member at the time of retirement. If you are a deferred retiree, please see FAQs No. 7. To be classified by a retirement board in that position the member:  must be actively employed, must actively hold the position for which they seek classification, and must be actively performing the duties of the position for which the member seeks classification for not less than twelve consecutive months immediately preceding retirement at the time of classification.

For Group 2, members must be at least 55 years of age.  For Group 4, members must be at least 45 years of age.

Additionally, members who joined state service before April 2, 2012, and are 65 years or older upon their date of retirement have already achieved the highest age factor and would therefore not need to apply for Group Classification.

FOR MEMBERS WHO JOINED STATE SERVICE ON OR AFTER APRIL 2, 2012:

Employees who joined state service on or after April 2, 2012, must pro-rate their service on a position-by-position basis when applying for Group Classification. For more information on pro-ration, please see FAQ No. 8.

Members who joined state service on or after April 2, 2012, will reach the maximum age factor at 67 years of age, and so any of these members aged 67 or older would not need to submit a Group Classification request.

Unlike those who joined state service before April 2, 2012, these members may request pro-rated Group 2 or Group 4 classification at any age.

5. HOW MAY I REQUEST THE CLASSIFICATION OF MY SERVICE?

For members of the Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System (“MSERS”), the official Group Classification application, may be found at the bottom of this page. The application also includes additional instructions on how to submit your Group Classification application.

6. WHAT IS “20/50” BENEFIT CALCULATION FOR CORRECTIONAL EMPLOYEES AND ARE THERE ANY ADDITIONAL CLASSIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS CALCULATION?

The “20/50” Benefit is available to certain correctional employees who are employed by either the Department of Correction or by a County Sheriff’s Department in a Correction Officer role for at least 20 years. The benefit is calculated as 50% of the member’s 12-month salary average preceding their retirement date with an extra 1/12% (0.083%) added to this 50% for every month of service over 20 years.

Correction or Jail Officers employed by County Sheriffs’ Departments seeking the “20/50” retirement benefit must have 20 years of creditable service with that office and may retire at any age.

Correctional employees of the Department of Correction seeking a “20/50” retirement benefit must have 20 years of creditable service with the department and must be classified in Group 4 to retire at any age.

Military service purchases do not count towards either of these 20-year service requirements, as a member must be actively working as a correctional employee for the time to count.

County Sheriff and Department of Correction employees must submit a retirement application to the Board before the Board reviews their request for a 20/50 benefit.

7. MAY DEFERRED RETIREES REQUEST CLASSIFICATION OF THEIR SERVICE?

A “deferred” retiree is a member of the retirement system who has previously separated from service but maintained their account, and subsequently applies to retire.  If you are a deferred retiree, please contact the Board’s Group Classification Team via email at groupclassification@tre.state.ma.us to review your service history and classification options. See also FAQ No. 8 for additional information.

8. WHAT IS PRO-RATING?

Members may request service from a previous position be classified as Group 2 or Group 4. Separate Classification Forms, along with exact dates of service and job descriptions are needed for each position you are requesting Group 2 or Group 4 classification.

Members who were and have remained members of a retirement system since prior to April 2, 2012, may elect to have their service pro-rated at the time of retirement.

Those who became members of a retirement system on or after April 2, 2012, must have their service pro-rated at the time of retirement depending on how long they served in a particular group. For employees who are seeking to classify the position they are planning to retire from, they must also pro-rate the service they held in this position through their date of retirement. 

Deferred retirees who became members before April 2, 2012, and who were not active members on April 2, 2012, are not eligible to pro-rate their service.

If approved, at retirement a benefit calculation is completed for the pro-rated periods of Group 2 or Group 4 service and may be combined with benefit calculations for periods of other service.  Please see the examples of pro-rating in the Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System (MSERS) Retirement Benefit Guide at the bottom of this page.

9. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO PROCESS MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION?

For employees who became members before April 2, 2012, and who have an approved classification for the position that they are retiring from, the approval for Group Classification is valid for 6 months. Pro-rated decisions are valid indefinitely.

Due to the high volume of Group Classification requests received by the Board, it is highly recommended that members submit their Group Classification Application at the same time as their retirement application, which is ideally 2-3 months before their chosen retirement date. This will allow your request for Group Classification to be reviewed by the Board in a timely manner. If you are unable to submit your Group Classification Application at the same time as your retirement application, please contact the Board Classification Team via email at groupclassification@tre.state.ma.us.

10. DOES MY EMPLOYING AGENCY/HR HAVE TO SIGN MY CLASSIFICATION REQUEST?

Yes. Also, if you are requesting to pro-rate your time, your current employing agency and any former employing agency must sign your Group Classification Application for the period or periods of any classification being sought.

11. WHAT INFORMATION MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE BOARD FOR A GROUP CLASSIFICATION REQUEST?

The following must be submitted to the State Board of Retirement before it is able to review a request for Group Classification:

  • Group Classification Application Section A (this must be completed by the member)
  • Group Classification Application Section B (this must be completed by the agency that employed you in the position that you are now looking to classify)
  • Form-30 or other formal job description for the position you are looking to classify (this must be provided by the agency who employed you in the position you are now looking to classify)

Please ensure that the position title listed in Section B of your Group Classification application matches the title included on any job description.

Members applying to classify certain positions may be subject to additional documentation requirements. In addition to these required materials, members are welcome to submit additional information to supplement their request. For more on additional documentation, see FAQ No. 12.

12. WHAT OTHER INFORMATION OR DOCUMENTATION SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION REQUEST?

The Board’s experience indicates actual job functions of similar positions may vary from person to person, agency to agency, facility to facility, and region to region across the Commonwealth. As a result, we strongly recommend that you include a detailed description of your daily duties and responsibilities for the positions for which you seek group classification.

For example, if you are providing direct care in a social service capacity or if your position is in the correctional or public safety fields, you should highlight the nature and scope of such duties you perform daily.

Additionally, you or your Agency HR representative should include the most recent Employee Performance Review Statement for the position you are seeking to classify if it is available. This is especially important for positions in which Group Classification is based primarily on job function rather than job title.

For members who work at certain facilities, including Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Tewksbury Hospital, Taunton State Hospital, Western Mass. Hospital, the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke, and UMass Medical School, please have your Human Resources representative provide a history of all the units that you have worked on in the position(s) that you are seeking to classify.

13. IF MY JOB TITLE IS LISTED WITHIN A SPECIFIC GROUP AM I AUTOMATICALLY CLASSIFIED?

No. The titles and actual functions of many positions listed in Group 2 or Group 4 have changed over the years and continue to change as employment practices and agency missions evolve. Members must be able to show that their actual duties support the position titles for which they seek classification.

For Group 2 specifically, many current job titles may not appear in the statutory group classifications. Therefore, materials and detailed descriptions submitted for group classifications are requested in order to assist the Board staff understand how a current position meets the requirements of the group for which you are applying.

14. HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION REQUEST WAS APPROVED?

The State Retirement Board generally meets the last Thursday of each month. You will receive a Board decision letter approximately one week after the meeting.

State Retirement Board staff may reach out to speak with you and your employer to seek additional information, or if we have questions about your group classification request.

15. AFTER MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION IS APPROVED, IS THAT A PERMANENT DECISION?

Decisions for the classification of your final position are valid for six months. If you do not retire within that time, you must submit another classification request for Board review. Pro-rated classification decisions are valid indefinitely.

16. WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CLASSIFICATION IS DENIED?

You have the right to appeal the Board’s decision to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA). Instructions on how to do so will be included in your Board decision letter.

If you have additional questions associated with the group classification process, please contact the State Retirement Board's Group Classification Team via email at groupclassification@tre.state.ma.us.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Group Classification FAQ'S (MSRB)

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