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. For example, five years are added to one’s age for Group 2 and ten years for Group 4.
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 provide direct care, custody, instruction or supervision of persons with mental illness or developmental disabilities. 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. 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?
Generally, for active employees, group classification depends on the position held by a member at the time of retirement. 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 he/she 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.
5. HOW MAY I REQUEST THE CLASSIFICATION OF MY SERVICE?
For members of the Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System (“MSERS”) the steps and form needed to request group classification may be found at the bottom of this page.
6. ARE THERE CLASSIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CORRECTIONAL EMPLOYEES “20/50” BENEFIT CALCULATION?
County Sheriff employees 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.
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, we ask you to contact the Board’s Group Classification Coordinator to review your service history and classification options.
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.
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 Board’s Retirement Guide at the bottom of this page.
9. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO PROCESS MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION?
If you are relying on a group classification approval for retirement purposes, please submit your request at least 2-3 months prior to your planned retirement date. The Board’s group classification decision is valid for 6 months.
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 INCLUDED WITH A GROUP CLASSIFICATION REQUEST?
In addition to the Group Classification Application, please submit job descriptions and performance evaluations to the State Retirement Board.
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 should 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.
12. 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.
Additionally, many current job titles may not appear in the statutory group classifications. Therefore, materials and detailed descriptions submitted for group classifications should help the Board staff understand how a current position meets the requirements of a Group 2 or Group 4 position.
13. HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY GROUP CLASSIFICATION REQUEST WAS APPROVED?
The State Retirement Board generally meets the last Thursday of the 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.
14. 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.
15. WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CLASSIFICATION IS DENIED?
You have the right to appeal the Board’s decision to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals. Instructions on how to do so will be in your Board decision letter.
If you have additional questions associated with the group classification process, please contact the State Retirement Board.