Married State Employees & Survivor Benefits

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If I pass away and I am vested with the state for 14 yrs, can my spouse get my state retirement; in addition, can she draw off her state retirement while drawing off my state retirement? In other words, can she draw off both retirements?
Yes – Let’s look at different scenarios.

Death Before Retirement:

As a married, vested member, if you die before you retire and while still employed, your eligible spouse will receive your MOSERS survivor benefits. When she retires, she can draw her own MOSERS pension and the two will have no impact on each other. See a recent posting, Death of Member Before Retirement, for more information. (The rules are not the same for Social Security benefits. Consult the SSA for more information on their rules about spouse benefits.)

Death After Retirement:

When each of you retire, you will choose a benefit payment option. Options include: Life Income Annuity, Joint & Survivor options, and Guaranteed Payment options.

If you elect the Life Income Annuity option, your retirement benefit will not be reduced for the purpose of providing a survivor benefit. Your final payment will be sent to your designated beneficiary. Then, there will be no ongoing monthly survivor benefits payable to anyone after your death.

Since you are married, you may elect the Joint & 50% Survivor or the Joint & 100% Survivor option. Each provides a lifetime benefit to you. If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime benefit for the remainder of her life. Your benefit will be reduced to provide this benefit*. Your spouse can receive your survivor benefit even if she is receiving her own MOSERS pension.

If you elect a Guaranteed Payment option, you may name anyone as your beneficiary (does not have to be your spouse but she would have to waive her spouse benefit). Your retirement benefit will be reduced and if you die before all of the guaranteed payments have been made, the remaining payments will go to the beneficiary you designated at retirement.

For more information, please review the Death of a Member section of our website. You can read more about benefit payment options in the Retirement Guide on our website in the Ready to Retire section. If you would like more information specific to your situation, please contact a MOSERS benefit counselor. They can answer questions over the phone, or you can set up an in-person appointment.

*There is no reduction for members who retire under the MSEP and elect the Joint and 50% survivor option. 

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Pay Raise & Final Average Pay

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will the raise that we are suppose to get in 2020 effect my retirement?
if I am already on my backdrop and if I retire in dec of 2021.
Assuming the pay raise is included in the final state budget and goes into effect in January 2020, if you continue working and do not take BackDROP, the impact of a pay increase on your monthly retirement benefit payment would be dependent upon how long you continue working. 

Remember, in calculating your monthly benefit, one factor is your Final Average Pay, which is your highest 36 consecutive months of pay. So, if you got a raise and worked a few months past January 2020, the impact may be very small. If you got a raise and worked an additional 36 months, the impact would be bigger.

Any pay earned during your BackDROP period has no impact on either your monthly benefit amount or your BackDROP lump-sum amount. If you are eligible for and elect the BackDROP upon retirement, your FAP will be calculated using your MOSERS-covered work history prior to your BackDROP date. In other words, pay (and service) during the BackDROP period is excluded when calculating your monthly benefit amount.

But, after you retire, keep mind that MOSERS retirees receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) between 0-5%. This amount is calculated each January and is based on the CPI (Consumer Price Index), which is unrelated to any pay raises state employees receive. You can find more information about the retiree COLAs on our website.

You can run benefit estimates under a variety of scenarios by logging in to MOSERS website, or ask a MOSERS benefit counselor to run them for you. You may find our Creating a Benefit Estimate video and our Comparison Calculator helpful in weighing your options.

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Death of Member Before Retirement

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My age is 58 and i have worked for the state 20 years. My question is if i died before i retired well my spouse receive my pension? My normal retirement is 1/1/2020.
Yes, if you are an active general state employee, married, vested in MOSERS, and die before you retire with MOSERS, your eligible surviving spouse will receive survivor benefits. If you have no surviving spouse, we will pay survivor benefits to your natural or legally adopted child(ren) younger than age 21. If you die without any eligible beneficiaries, no survivor benefits will be paid. These benefits would be payable in the month following your death.

The monthly benefit for your spouse will be based on the benefit you have accrued as of your date of death. We will calculate it according to the Joint & 100% Survivor Option. We will pay monthly survivor benefits for the remainder of your spouse's lifetime. You can find information regarding the death of a member on our website. Survivors should contact a MOSERS benefit counselor for guidance through the process.

An exception to this: The “immediate” survivor benefit provision is not available for terminated-vested members of MSEP 2011  employed on or after January 1, 2018. This change was in SB62 during the 2017 legislative session. It is a cost offset for the reduction in the vesting requirement from 10 years to 5 years for members of MSEP 2011. Eligible survivors of such members will begin receiving benefits when the deceased member would have attained normal retirement age.

Members often have similar questions about death AFTER retirement. A key feature of your MOSERS defined benefit (DB) pension plan is that it can provide financial security for your eligible survivor(s) as well. During the retirement process, you will make elections to determine if any potential survivor benefits will be paid to anyone after your death or not – to a spouse if you are married, or, potentially, to another beneficiary.

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