Am I required to become a member of the State-Boston Retirement System (“SBRS”)?
Yes, SBRS membership is mandatory for all employees in the listed member units who work at least 20 hours per week.
How much do members contribute to SBRS?
The amount you contribute to SBRS each year is set by statute, and determined by your date of membership in SBRS not necessarily when you started working. The following will outline the contribution rates based on the current statute:
Date of Entry into SBRS
Before January 1, 1975
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1978
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1983
January 1, 1984 – June 30, 1996
After June 30, 1996
*2% of salary in excess of $30,000. This 2% is in addition to the seven, eight or nine percent that is already being deducted from total regular compensation.
What happens to the money that I contribute to SBRS?
Once you become a member of SBRS, an Annuity Savings Account is established on your behalf. Your employer deducts your retirement contributions and forwards them to the Boston Retirement Board (“Board”), which deposits your contributions into your Annuity Savings Account. Your contributions, plus any accumulated interest, are credited directly to your account. Each year, the Board issues a statement to all its active members that reflects the yearly and total contributions and interest credited to the account.
Can I borrow money from my Annuity Savings Account now and pay it back later?
What does the term “vested” mean? When am I considered vested?
Vesting is the term commonly used to signify the right to a retirement allowance at a later date. Vested benefits are those benefits that a member is entitled to today, not based on additional service. You are vested in SBRS once you have accumulated the equivalent of 10 years of service.
Can I receive a refund of my contributions, and will I get interest on those contributions?
You may receive a refund of your total contributions if you have officially terminated your position. Please see the Refunds tab for more information.
When am I eligible to retire?
You are eligible to retire at age 55 or older if you have at least ten years of creditable service. If you have 20 years of service, you can retire at any age.
What are the factors used to determine my retirement allowance?
The factors used to determine your benefit are: your age at the time of retirement, your amount of creditable service, your group classification and an average of your three highest years of regular compensation.
What is the maximum retirement allowance that I can receive?
The maximum benefit you can receive is 80% of the average of your three highest consecutive years of regular compensation.
Are there any additional benefits to which I am entitled?
If you are a veteran as defined in the Massachusetts General Laws, a veteran’s credit will be added to your retirement allowance. The amount of this credit will equal $15 per year for each year of creditable service you have accrued, not to exceed 20 years or $300. You will receive this additional benefit even if you are already at the maximum, or if the additional $300 puts your total allowance over the 80% maximum.
If a member dies before retiring, can the member provide for payment of a lifetime allowance to a surviving family member?
Members have the right to choose a beneficiary upon becoming a member or at any point prior to retirement (“Option D”). Option D provides a designated beneficiary with an allowance for life. However, if the member does not designate an Option D beneficiary and if his/her eligible spouse does not elect to receive a lifetime allowance, the member's accumulated deductions will be paid in a lump sum to his/her surviving beneficiaries of record and no lifetime allowance can be paid.
Who may a member designate as his/her Option D beneficiary?
Members may designate only one beneficiary. The eligible beneficiaries are limited to a member’s spouse, the member’s former spouse (provided he or she has not remarried at the time of being designated as the Option D beneficiary), the member’s child, parent or sibling.
May a member change his/her Option D beneficiary designation?
A member may change his/her Option D beneficiary designation by giving written notice on a prescribed form to the Board. It is important to remember whom one’s Option D beneficiary is because changes in personal circumstances do not automatically alter the designation. The Option D beneficiary remains the same until a new beneficiary is designated in the prescribed manner.
Can a beneficiary make any "make-up" payments that a member had been eligible to make?
If a member’s accumulated deductions do not reflect all of his/her creditable service, the member’s Option D beneficiary may make “make-up payments” to establish a more complete record of creditable service. A beneficiary has 90 days in which to act from the date the Board mails a notice regarding his or her right to act.
Is a member permitted to change his/her mind about electing Option D?
A member can cancel his/her election of Option D by giving written notice to the Board.
Under what circumstances is a member’s Option D election superseded?
An Option D designation has a serious and lasting legal impact unless:
A member cancels it; or
A member’s designated beneficiary predeceases the member; or
A member retires; or
A member’s surviving beneficiaries are eligible to receive an accidental death benefit; or
A member’s eligible surviving spouse elects to receive a benefit, even if the member did not choose the spouse as his/her Option D beneficiary.
How is an Option D benefit calculated if a member dies before his/her 55th birthday?
The designated beneficiary is entitled to receive the Option C allowance the member would have been entitled to receive if the member had attained age 55 and retired on the date he /she died. The number of years of service that the member had been granted when he/she died plus any service for which the beneficiary makes a “make-up” payment will be used in the calculation.
May a member’s spouse elect to receive Option D benefits?
A member’s spouse may elect to receive Option D benefits if:
the member dies as a member-in-service and has nominated the spouse as beneficiary of his/her accumulated retirement deductions, or
the member has been married to the spouse for at least one year and dies as a member-in-service with at least two years of creditable service.
This type of spousal election is permitted even if the member had chosen another individual as his/her Option D beneficiary. The member must be living with his/her spouse at the time of death or if the couple is living apart, it must be for a justifiable cause other than the spouse’s desertion or moral turpitude.
What if a member has already retired under Option A or B, is there a circumstance in which his/her spouse could elect to receive Option D benefits?
If the member dies within 30 days of retirement, the spouse can elect to receive Option D benefits. The member must be living with his/her spouse at the time of death or if the couple is living apart, it must be for a justifiable cause other than the spouse’s desertion or moral turpitude.
What benefits are payable to a member’s spouse in these situations?
The member’s spouse would receive the Option C allowance the member would have received if he/she had retired on the date of his/her death. If the member was under age 55 on the date of death, the allowance would still be calculated as if the member had attained age 55. If the member was age 55 or older, the allowance would be calculated using the member’s actual age on the date of death.
How and when may a member’s spouse elect Option D benefits?
The Board will notify a member’s spouse of his or her right to elect Option D benefits. A spouse has 90 days from the date this notice is mailed to elect Option D benefits. To be effective, the election must be made on a prescribed form filed with the Board within this period.
What happens if a surviving spouse does not elect Option D benefits?
If the member had not named another individual as his/her Option D beneficiary, the member’s accumulated deductions would be paid to the surviving beneficiaries of record or, if there are none, to the member’s surviving spouse in one sum.
If the member had named another individual as his/her Option D beneficiary, that individual would receive a lifetime allowance (instead of a lump sum payment of accumulated deductions being made to the surviving beneficiaries of record).
What do you need to know if I change banks for my direct deposit?
You should notify the Board immediately and then mail us a "voided" check from your new account.
Does the Board want to know if I will be away for the winter?
Yes, please let us know in writing, we’ll be happy to forward notices to you or hold them until your return.
Should I inform you if I change my address, change my personal status or have children?
Yes, it is vital that your pertinent information be updated with the Board. You must submit your address change in writing so that we may verify your signature.
Post Retirement Employment
Is there a limit to how much I can work and earn as an SBRS retiree?
No, unless you are under any general or special law for disability (M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 91A) or you will be receiving post regular retirement earnings from the City of Boston, the Commonwealth, or any of its counties, cities or municipalities (M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 91(b),(c)).
M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 91A refers to post disability retirement earnings. M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 91A provides that a disability retiree’s earnings, when added to his/her retirement allowance, cannot exceed the regular compensation (salary) the member would have received had he/she remained in active service plus $5,000.
To determine your disability retirement earnings, you shall in each year on or before April fifteenth subscribe, under the penalties of perjury, and file with the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (“PERAC”) a statement, in such form as PERAC shall prescribe, certifying the full amount of your earnings from earned income during the preceding year. You shall annually submit to PERAC all pertinent W-2 forms, 1099 forms, other requested tax forms and proof of income, and any other documentation requested by PERAC.
More Information on PERAC Regulations
M.G.L. c. 32, sec. 91(b),(c) refer to post regular retirement earnings, from the City of Boston, the Commonwealth, or any of its subdivisions. The intent of this law is to prevent a retiree from earning more from the Commonwealth than what they originally were earning as an employee.
Simply stated, if a retiree is re-employed in the service of the City of Boston, the Commonwealth, or any of its counties, cities, or municipalities, his/her earnings for the calendar year when added to the retirement allowance, cannot exceed the salary currently being paid for the position from which he/she retired, and further the that the re-employment is limited to a period of up to 960 hours in aggregate, in any calendar year.
For example, if you retired from your position with an allowance of $40,000, and that position currently pays $55,000 then you may not earn more than $15,000 and/or work more than 960 hours in a calendar year.
If you work for any of the aforementioned public entities, you must keep track of your hours, and excess earnings, as you are required to certify to your public employer the number of days or hours you have worked in a calendar year and the amounts of earnings therefrom.
More Information on PERAC Regulations