You need to schedule a session with the retirement office approximately three to four months prior to your planned retirement date, depending on your needs. Generally, the earlier the better so that you may have ample time to consider your options and consult a financial planner. If married, your spouse should attend this session as well. Retirement counseling is done by appointment only. Please contact our office at (508) 696-3846 to schedule an appointment.
In your retirement counseling session, we will go over the following topics:
Your Record of Creditable Service
At your appointment, we will review your creditable service record with you to make sure that your record is complete. At that time, we will confirm that we have a record of all your Massachusetts public service and military service.
Military Service or Previous Public Service Buybacks
Contact the retirement office as soon as possible if you think you have any prior service or military service that you may be able to “buy back.” Buying back service can increase your retirement benefit and can either be done through payroll deduction or in a lump sum payment prior to your retirement date.
Other Potential Public Service Credits
During your appointment, we will also ask if you have retirement funds in another Massachusetts public system. The funds and service credits can be transferred to your current account. If you have withdrawn funds, you may be eligible to buy back the service credits.
Choosing A Retirement Date
Your retirement benefit is based on salary, years of service and age. As you plan your retirement date, keep those factors in mind. If you are under 65 chose a date that is after your next birthday, in order to increase your age factor. Service is calculated in full months. Choose a date based on your hire date to maximize service. For example, if you started work on the 15th of the month, choose the 15th of the month to retire. Salary is based on your highest 36-month average if your hire date is prior to 4/2/2012 and your highest 60-month salary average if hired after 4/2/2012. If you retire and take a payout of your vacation time, you will not get service credits for the vacation time. You can take your vacation as paid time and then retire to increase your service credits. It may be more beneficial to your to take the vacation as a payout. Retirement estimates can help you determined this. The retirement staff can provide you with retirement estimates to assist you with the planning process.
Estimating Your Retirement Benefit
There are two ways you can obtain an estimate of your retirement benefit.
- Option 1: You can print out the Retirement Estimate Request Form authorizing us to fax, mail or email you an estimate. (The time it takes us to provide an estimate can vary, however, it is usually within one week’s time).
- Option 2: You can make an appointment to come to our office and we can provide you with an estimate. Please contact our office at (508) 696-3846.
Retirement Benefit Options
The following options available to retirees are the same for all retirement types. The option you select at the time of your retirement determines what will happen to your retirement account at the end of your life. Remember: no matter which option you select, you will receive a lifetime benefit.
This option provides the highest payment to the retiree and leaves nothing for a beneficiary. All payments will cease upon the retiree’s death and no survivor benefits will be provided. This may be a good option if you have no dependent or incapacitated dependents and if your spouse has independent pension income. This determination is established by law based on age.
This option provides an allowance that is approximately 2% less than Option A. Upon the retiree’s death, the balance of the retiree’s contributions (annuity), if any, is paid to the retiree’s beneficiary/beneficiaries. Annuity funds will be paid to you monthly as part of your benefit, and are typically depleted in 10 to 15 years. The Retirement office can give you a more exact depletion date. If you outlive your annuity balance, your beneficiary will receive nothing. If you outlive your beneficiary, you can name another. This may be a good option if you have temporary dependents, such as children in college, and you are concerned about leaving enough for them to become independent.
Option C is the joint and last survivor allowance. The retiree’s allowance is approximately 7% to 14% less than the Option A allowance. Upon the retiree’s death, the designated beneficiary will be paid a monthly allowance for the remainder of the beneficiary’s lifetime. The survivor benefit is equal to 2/3 of the retirement allowance that the retiree was receiving and is paid to the beneficiary for the remainder of his/her life. This option only allows you to name ONE beneficiary (eligible beneficiaries under Option C are a spouse, child, sibling or parent). If you outlive your named beneficiary, you will become an Option A retiree. This may be a good option if your spouse is dependent on your allowance, or if you have a permanently disabled dependent who will need a lifetime allowance.
An important concern for many active and retired members is how Social Security benefits might be impacted by receipt of a retirement allowance from the Dukes County Contributory Retirement System. Members should know that receipt of a retirement allowance from Dukes County Contributory Retirement System may reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits. However, a member’s Dukes County Contributory retirement allowance will not be reduced by the receipt of Social Security benefits, or any other pension a member may be receiving.
As members’ individual circumstances vary, you should contact the Social Security Administration directly for information regarding your Social Security benefits.
For more information, members may go to Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007), for government workers who may be eligible for Social Security benefits on the earnings record of a spouse; and Windfall Elimination Provision (Publication No. 05-10045), for people who worked in another country or government workers who also are eligible for their own Social Security benefits.
Health Insurance & Medicare
Three months prior to your 65th birthday, you should contact the Social Security Administration to determine your eligibility for benefits including Medicare. When you are retired, you should enroll in Medicare Parts A & B (if eligible) as a supplement to the health benefits offered to you through your employer. Your spouse must also enroll in Medicare and should also apply three months prior to his/her 65th birthday. Go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE for more information on enrollment.
You should consider what your health and life insurance needs will be in retirement and determine if any changes will be necessary. For example, if you are planning to relocate, you may want to switch to a health plan providing out-of-sate coverage. Consult with your Town Treasurer or with the Human Resources Department about your health and life insurance options. Once you have decided on your benefit options, the Treasurer or Human Resources Office will tell us the amount to withhold from your check.
You will be asked to complete a federal W-4P federal tax withholding form as part of the retirement application packet. This form is used to indicate the amount of federal taxes you would like withheld from your retirement checks. If you have questions about how much tax to have withheld from your retirement earnings, you may want to consult a tax advisor.
There is no Massachusetts state tax on your public retirement allowance.
If you anticipate receiving a large sick time payout when you retire, you should consider the tax implications of that when choosing a retirement date and, if possible, contact a tax advisor to help you make an informed decision.
If you participate in a deferred compensation plan, you should schedule an appointment with your deferred compensation representative prior to retirement to discuss your options and complete any necessary paperwork. You may also want to ask about the possibility of deferring sick and vacation time payouts.