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The Massachusetts State Retirement Board administers the Massachusetts State Employees’ Retirement System (MSERS) for state employees and certain other public employees. The Board also administers the former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Employees’ Retirement System and benefits for members of the Judiciary.
The MSERS is a contributory defined benefit retirement system governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 32. The system provides retirement, disability, survivor, and death benefits to members and their beneficiaries. This governmental plan is a Code section 401(a) retirement plan under Code section 414(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, established and maintained for the employees of the Commonwealth.
MSERS membership is mandatory for nearly all state employees who are employed part time (minimum half time), or full time.
The Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS) is the largest of the Commonwealth’s 105 contributory retirement systems. MTRS provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits to more than 88,000 active educators and 55,000 retirees and survivors. Learn more about the The Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System below.
Consists of Seven Retirement Plans:
Consists of Two Retirement Plans:
Consists of Twelve Retirement Plans:
Consists of Eighty-five Retirement Plans:
Payments made by the MTRS are subject to neither the Retirement Equity Act nor the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) because MTRS is specifically exempt from the provisions of both those federal acts.
The retirement benefits of members of MTRS are subject to distribution in a divorce. This division and distribution requires a DRO.
A domestic relations order (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 divorcing or who are already divorced. The MTRS must accept the DRO to ensure that it complies with the General Laws and is enforceable.
DROs deal primarily with retirement benefits. Because a pension is an asset that becomes payable at some future date, and involves many unknowns, it is necessary to address how it will be divided in a very specific document. This document usually gives an alternate payee the right to receive part of the benefits that would be payable to a participant under the plan. The DRO may not alter the amount or form of the benefits of the plan.
A DRO is accepted by the MTRS when:
1) The parties submit the DRO to the legal unit.
2) The legal unit reviews the DRO to be sure that it complies with the MTRS plan (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 32) and can be implemented. If the DRO is not acceptable, the legal unit notifies the attorney submitting the DRO that revisions need to be made. If the DRO is acceptable and has been signed by the court, the legal unit prepares a standard letter accepting it as a qualified DRO.
3) The Legal Unit files the order in the member’s file and notes the order in their computer system.
A. No. Depending on the spouses’ financial situation, they may be able to address the division of a MTRS pension in another way, such as calculating the present value of the benefits and then trading the pension for other assets.
A. No. MTRS can only give information regarding current account balances. For computation of the present value of the member’s benefits, a party needs to consult an actuary or other financial professional for a pension appraisal. The MTRS provides the information that an appraiser needs to assign a value to a pension.
A. His or her retirement allowance may be apportioned, but neither the total amount nor the option he or she selected at the time of retirement may be changed. If applicable, MTRS divides the monthly allowance according to the terms of the Court’s order or the parties’ agreement.
A. If MTRS is currently paying a retiree a retirement allowance, he or she needs to be sure to address the percentage or amount of the retirement allowance that is to be made payable to the alternate payee. Because a participant’s retirement allowance is already fixed, the issues a retiree must address in a DRO are simpler than for an active member.
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