Pre-Retirement Checklist

Ready to Retire? Review this list to prepare for retirement and avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of your MSERS retirement application.

Members of the Massachusetts State Employees’ Retirement System (MSERS) can assist State Retirement Board (SRB) staff by preparing to retire to help minimize the time between their retirement date and first payment. 

Please be prepared to spend some time reviewing the pre-retirement checklist and other information below to avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of your retirement application. This is your retirement—it’s important that you understand how your benefits are calculated, the retirement application process and which documents are necessary to submit along with your retirement application.

Note: Once your effective date of retirement has passed, you may not change your retirement option, nor may you change your date of retirement.

After 45 days from after your retirement date, you may contact the Board about whether an advance payment against your upcoming first benefit payment is feasible. Click here to download the MSERS Retirement Advance Request Form.

Pre-Retirement Checklist:

The State Retirement Board strongly recommends that you contact us to review your account and service history ahead of your retirement and file your retirement application at least 60 to 90 days in advance of leaving your position.

Review your creditable service history to determine if you are vested and eligible to receive a retirement allowance:

Being vested means you are eligible to receive a retirement allowance. You are vested in the State system if you have at least ten years of full-time service. To be eligible to retire, you need to meet one of the following conditions:

  • You entered state service prior to April 2, 2012, and you have 20 years of full-time creditable service at any age, or
  • You entered state service prior to April 2, 2012, and you attain the age of 55 with ten years of creditable service, or
  • You entered state service on or after April 2, 2012, and you attain the age of 60 if retiring from Group 1, with ten years of creditable service.

If you leave state service after you are vested, you may leave your retirement contributions in the system and receive a state pension once you meet the minimum age requirement. 

Be sure to clear up any creditable service questions you may have before you submit your retirement application.

Do you have prior refunded creditable service that you wish to purchase? Be sure to complete all service purchases well in advance!

  • For more information about the various types of service purchases, click here.

Group Classification Approval:

  • If you wish to have your position or service classified in Group 2 or Group 4 for retirement purposes within six months before your retirement date, you must submit a separate Application for Group Classification for each position you wish to be classified, or to be classified for a correctional officer “20/50” retirement benefit under G.L. c.32, section 28M or 28N. If you are requesting to pro-rate your creditable service, you must submit a separate classification form for each position you are seeking to classify.

For more information, please refer to the State Retirement Board Group Classification Policy.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO):

  • A qualified domestic relations order—commonly known as a QDRO or DRO—is a judgment, decree or order (including approval of a property settlement agreement) that sets out how a person’s retirement benefits are to be allocated between parties who are in the process of divorcing or who are already divorced. The DRO must be reviewed and accepted by the MSRB to ensure that it complies with the General Laws and is enforceable.

The process of having a QDRO accepted by the MSRB involves the following steps:

1) The parties submit the QDRO to the MSRB’s Legal Unit.

2) The Legal Unit reviews the QDRO to be sure that it complies with the MSRB plan (Massachusetts General Laws chapter 32) and can be implemented. If the QDRO is not acceptable, the Legal Unit will notify, in writing, the attorney submitting the QDRO that revisions need to be made. If the QDRO is acceptable and has been signed by the court, the Legal Unit prepares a standard letter accepting it as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

3) The Legal Unit then files the order in the member’s file and notes the order on our computer system. We strongly recommend that both parties keep a copy of the order for their own files and that this process is completed prior to the member’s retirement date. Otherwise, it may significantly delay the processing of the member’s retirement.

Eligibility note:

Your eligibility to receive any actual retirement benefit and the amount of a benefit will be finally determined as your application is reviewed, and after information including, but not limited to, the following has been verified where applicable:

  • Your membership status;
  • The amount of creditable service you have accrued;
  • What amounts paid to you qualify as “regular compensation” to be included in your benefit calculation;
  • Your group classification;
  • Whether any salary increases are within statutory (anti-spiking) limits.

Prior to submitting your retirement application, it is helpful for you to have your employer and former employer’s payroll offices review your payment history, creditable service history and the types of payments you received to make sure retirement contributions have been taken on qualifying compensation. You’ll want to note and resolve any discrepancies between your records and your employer’s records. Otherwise, the processing of your retirement may be delayed.

You should contact the State Retirement Board if:

  1. in the five years of creditable service immediately preceding retirement your annual rate of salary doubled between any two consecutive years; or,
  2. In determining the 3-year or 5-year salary average your regular compensation in any year exceeds the average of the regular compensation of the previous two years by more than 10%.

Important note: any requests to withdraw your application, change your retirement date, or change your benefit option must be made in writing and received by the State Retirement Board prior to the effective date of retirement listed on your original application. No changes can be made after your retirement date passes.

Once your application has been successfully submitted, staff will begin processing it.

Items to note while you wait for your first pension payment:

  • Your First Payment: Monthly benefit payments can only be issued on the last business day of each month. First payments are generally received 60 to 90 days after your retirement date and are retroactive to your retirement date.

After 45 days from after your retirement date, you may contact the Board about whether an advance payment against your upcoming first benefit payment is feasible. Click here to download the MSERS Retirement Advance Request Form.

  • Health Insurance: If you are insured by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), you will be billed directly for your insurance premiums until after you receive your first pension payment. Insurance premiums will be automatically deducted from your pension direct deposit payment beginning with your second direct deposit payment.
  • Sick & Vacation Time Buyout: Is handled by your employer. For more information, please check with your employer’s payroll department.
  • Change of Address or Direct Deposit Bank: Please notify our office in writing as soon as possible to update your address, phone number and email address as needed or your direct deposit bank information if it changes. It’s important to have your current contact information on file with the Board so that we can communicate with you if needed.

 

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