How is my benefit rate determined?

Can I borrow money from my retirement account now and pay it back later?

When can I file for retirement?

How many forms are there?

What does "vested" mean?

When am I vested?

What if I leave the state after I am vested but before I am old enough to retire?

What if I leave state service before I am vested?

What does "buy back" mean?

How do I qualify for a refund?

Do I get any interest on my refund?  

Why do I pay higher percentage toward my retirement than some other employees?  

Can I have my retirement payment direct deposited?

How much may I earn by working after I retire?

Can my retirement benefits be assigned or attached?

How is my benefit rate determined?
Your benefit rate is determined by your age as of your last birthday and your group classification. The benefit rate is a specific percentage of the amount of your average annual rate of pay. The maximum pension is 80% of the high three year average annual rate of compensation. Your age factor times the number of years of service determines this percentage. Top of page


Can I borrow money from my retirement account now and pay it back later?
No! Under state law, your retirement account has no provisions for withdrawal under any circumstance, including mortgage down payment or college education. Top of page


When can I file for retirement?
No sooner than 120 days before you plan to retire. You can also file for retirement up to sixty days after you leave public service. You can file after sixty days but your benefits will not be retroactive to your retirement date. Therefore, the State Retirement Board strongly recommends that you plan your retirement before leaving your job. Certain retirement options will not be available to you once you stop working. You should therefore obtain counseling from the State Retirement Board before you stop working. Top of page


How many forms are there?
There are only two forms to begin the retirement process: Application by Member for Voluntary Retirement Allowance pdf format of Retforms.pdf
and Pay-out Selection Form. These may be obtained by contacting the State Retirement Board when you begin to think about retirement. Top of page


What does "vested" mean?
Vesting is a term commonly used to signify the right to a retirement allowance at a later date. Vested benefits are those benefits which a member is entitled to today, not based on additional service. Top of page


When am I vested?
You are vested in the state retirement system once you have accumulated the equivalent of 10 years of full-time service. Top of page


What if I leave state service after I am vested but before I am old enough to retire?
If you leave state service after you are vested, you may leave your retirement contributions in the system and receive a state pension at age 55. Top of page


What if I leave state service before I am vested?
If you leave state service before you are vested, two options are available to you. You may receive a refund of your retirement contributions, with 20% deducted for federal taxes. Alternatively, you can have it "Rollover" into an tax-qualified IRA. Under certain circumstances, there may be a penalty for early withdrawal. Top of page


What does "buy back" mean?
You may buy back any prior public service to the Commonwealth that was refunded or public service to the Commonwealth that was provided but which did not have retirement contributions withheld. If you took a refund of your retirement contribution, you will have to buy back such service prior to your actual retirement date in order to have that time credited toward a state retirement. Buyback requests must be submitted in writing and you will have to redeposit the appropriate contribution plus accumulated interest as determined by the Board. Top of page


How do I qualify for a refund?
You may request a refund of your account upon the conclusion of your employment. You are unable to access your account while still employed with the Commonwealth. Top of page


Do I get any interest on my refund?
If you have less than ten (10) years of creditable service and you VOLUNTARILY terminated service, you will be credited with 3% interest on your total deductions.

If you have more than ten (10) years of creditable service or you INVOLUNTARILY withdraw from state service your total deductions will be credited with regular interest. Also, if you have ten (10) or more years of creditable service, call the State Board of Retirement - you may be vested and eligible for retirement at age 55.

No interest will accrue to your account after two years from the date of your separation from employment. Top of page


Why do I pay a higher percentage toward my retirement than some other employees?
Contribution to the state retirement system is determined by your most recent entry into the system. Members who re-enter the system with funds on deposit or who transfer from another contributory retirement system maintain their former contribution level.

Employee Contribution Rates

Before January 1, 1975 5%
January 1, 1975 - January 1, 1984 7%
January 1, 1984 - June 30, 1996 8%
July 1, 1996 - present 9%

Those employees appointed to the state police and whose membership commenced on or after July 1, 1996 must contribute 12 %.

Also, employees hired after January 1, 1979 will pay their regular contribution plus an additional 2% contribution. On salaries in excess of $30,000, the additional contribution is required as of January 1, 1988. Top of page


Can I have my retirement payment direct deposited?
Yes, direct deposit is mandatory for all applications received after January 1, 2010. Download the direct deposit form pdf format of Direct Deposit
from our website and mail it to our Boston office. Top of page
 


How much may I earn by working after I retire?

If you have received a superannuation retirement benefit for at least one full calendar year, the limits to working in the public sector have been raised.


Limitations include:
 

  • If you go back to work in city, town, county, municipal, or state government in Massachusetts, you can now earn the difference between the current salary of the position you retired from and your pension, plus an additional $15,000

  • Rules pertaining to the maximum 960 hours certain retirees can work in a calendar year still apply. For example, if the current salary of the position you retired from is $40,000 and your pension is $20,000 per year, you would be able to earn up to $35,000 per calendar year or work up to 960 hours, whichever comes first  

As a retiree, you must cease employment whenever either one of the above two conditions are met. If you are at your allowable limit and wish to continue working, then you must waive your retirement allowance.
Separate earnings limitations apply to members who receive Accidental Disability Benefits. Top of page
 


Can my retirement benefits be assigned or attached?

Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 32 governs the Commonwealth's public employee contributory retirement systems. The Massachusetts State Employees' Retirement System ("MSERS") is one such system. The State Board of Retirement ("Board") administers the defined benefit plan for MSERS members.

M.G.L. c.32 specifically directs how and under what circumstances a member's retirement benefits may be attached or assigned. No assignment of any right to an annuity, pension or retirement allowance shall be valid unless specifically directed in M.G.L. c.32. Presently, the provisions of M.G.L. c.32, §§19, 19A, 19B and 19C allow attachments and assignments of pension benefits in the following circumstances:

  • assignments made pursuant to certain support orders, including qualified domestic relations orders;
  • assignments made to provide restitution in instances of dereliction of duty;
    assignments made by a member for the purpose of payment of a health or life insurance premium, for a policy related to work and in effect on the member's retirement;
  • repayments of benefits paid by the Commonwealth for those individuals who have become public charges;
  • notice of levy issued by the Internal Revenue Service for the purposes of collecting unpaid federal tax. Top of page