System Structure

This guide is applicable to persons who became members of a retirement system on or after April 2, 2012.   

This guide reflects changes and amendments to the law through July 1, 2015.

To gain a basic understanding of each subject area, please read all the questions and answers for that area.  Officials of your retirement board are available to further explain the law and to counsel you about your rights and benefits.

For information about your possible eligibility for a disability retirement, please refer to PERAC’s Guide to Disability Retirement for Public Employees (Regardless of the Date of Membership).

The Massachusetts Retirement System Structure

Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission
All 104 retirement systems are overseen by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC).

104 Contributory Retirement Systems
There are 104 contributory retirement systems for public employees in Massachusetts. A retirement board governs each system and all boards, although operating independently, are bound together under one retirement law—Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws—that establishes benefits, contribution requirements, and an accounting and funds structure for all systems.

There are several categories of retirement systems or boards:

County and Regional Boards
These boards are the retirement administrators for county employees and employees of smaller towns and units within counties that do not have their own boards. In counties that have been abolished, regional retirement boards are the retirement administrators for retirees and current employees.

Municipal Boards
These boards are the retirement administrators for individual cities and larger towns within the Commonwealth.

State Board
This is the board for all state employees. There are also some smaller non-state units that are administered by this board.

Teachers' Board
This board covers all public school teachers in Massachusetts, with the exception of Boston teachers. The Boston Retirement Board administers the benefits of the Boston teachers, although the state is responsible for the cost.

Other Boards
Six other boards are established by Chapter 32: Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, Massachusetts Port Authority, Blue Hills Regional School Employees, Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District, and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board
This board is not a retirement board, but is charged with general supervision of the investment and reinvestment of the Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund for the state employees, state teachers, and other participating/purchasing retirement systems.

Date published: July 1, 2015

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