State of Connecticut Armorial Bearings

CONNECTICUT STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM
TIER III
SUMMARY PLAN DESCRIPTION (SPD)


IF YOU LEAVE BEFORE RETIREMENT


YOU BECOME VESTED AFTER 10 YEARS OF VESTING SERVICE

Vested Rights

Your state employment may end before you retire. Under current plan provisions you will have earned a vested right to a retirement benefit if you have at least 10 years of vesting service at the time you leave.

How Your Benefit is Figured

If you leave with at least 10 years of vesting service, you may:

OR

Your benefits will depend on:

You should contact your last employing agency's Human Resources Office to request the preparation of an application for vested rights retirement benefits at time of your termination even though the effective date of your benefits may be years in the future. Your application, accompanied by a confirmation of active health insurance form and a copy of your birth certificate, should be directed to the Retirement Services Division. You should also advise the Retirement Services Division, in writing, of any address changes that follow your departure from state service.

Special Note: Current plan provisions are in effect until June 30, 2022 in accordance with the 2011 agreement between the State of Connecticut and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition. You should be aware however that these provisions are subject to change in accordance with any subsequent legislative, collective bargaining or court ordered actions.

Withdrawal of Contributions

If you are not eligible for any retirement benefits when you leave state service, you may withdraw your retirement contributions. This withdrawal will include interest at 5% per year credited from the July 1st following the commencement of contributions to the July 1st coincident with or preceding the date you leave state service. You should contact your last employing agency's Human Resources Office to complete the appropriate refund application form at the time of your termination.

If you do not withdraw your contributions and you do not return to state service within five years, we will assume that you want a refund and a refund application will be sent to you. After you complete the form and return it to us, we will send you your contributions and interest. If we cannot locate you within 10 years after your employment ends, your contributions will become part of the retirement fund.

Important Note: You should be aware that you may not elect to withdraw your contributions in lieu of receiving retirement income payments at such time as they are payable if you are eligible for vested or immediate retirement when you leave state service.


REEMPLOYMENT AFTER RETIREMENT


AFTER YOU RETIRE YOU MAY RETURN TO EITHER FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME STATE SERVICE

Reemployment In A Temporary Position

If you are reemployed by the state in a temporary position, you can work no more than 120 days in any calendar year without impairing your pension rights. If the temporary position is considered a 7 hour full-time position, you may work a maximum of 840 hours; if the position is a 7.5 hour full-time position, you may work 900 hours; if the position is a 7.75 hour full-time position you may work 930 hours; and if the position is an 8 hour per day full-time position, you may work 960 hours in a calendar year.

A retiree reemployed in a state teaching position may work 45.97% of a full-time teaching schedule without impairing pension rights. This means that a reemployed State Employees Retirement System (SERS) retiree at a state university or the University of Connecticut may teach twelve load credits per calendar year. A reemployed SERS retiree at a state community-technical college may teach up to fourteen contact hours per calendar year. Reemployed SERS retirees at institutions which do not operate on a credit basis such as the Department of Correction and the state technical high schools are required to observe the 120 days per calendar year limitation.

Reemployment In A Permanent Position

If you are reemployed by the state in a permanent position either on a part-time or full-time basis after you have retired, your pension payments and benefits must cease. It is your responsibility to notify the Retirement Services Division of your reemployment. You will resume membership in the Tier III Plan and receive credit for service during such reemployment. When you next retire, your retirement benefit will not be less than the amount you were receiving prior to reemployment.


COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT (COLA)


BENEFITS ARE ADJUSTED TO OFFSET RISING COSTS OF LIVING

If you have at least 10 years of actual state service, you will be eligible for an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) after you start receiving retirement benefits. The first increase will take place on the January 1st or July 1st (whichever comes first) after at least nine full months of retirement. Future increases will occur on either the January or July anniversary of your first increase.

The COLA will range from a minimum 2% to a maximum of 7.5% based on a formula which takes into account a portion of the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the 12 months immediately preceding your COLA anniversary date.

Specifically, the COLA will be determined in accordance with the following formula:

60% of the annual increase in the CPI-W up to 6%
 

PLUS

 
75% of the annual increase in the CPI-W above 6%


WHEN YOU ARE READY TO RETIRE


The Application Process

You must contact the Human Resources or Payroll Office of your employing agency to request the preparation of your "Application for Retirement Benefits" and other related retirement forms. You should allow a reasonable amount of notice time for this process, which is generally considered to be 2 to 3 months prior to your intended date of retirement. Because of the 90-day protection window explained in the section entitled "Survivor Benefits," you should not execute your retirement forms prior to 90 days from your targeted retirement date. Your retirement application and all accompanying documentation must be received by the Retirement Services Division before the effective date of your retirement.

You will need to provide to your agency copies of:

You will need to make several elections including:

You are required to complete a form entitled "Spouse Waiver of Monthly Survivor Benefits" attesting to your marital status. If you have been married for at least one year as of your requested retirement date and elect an option that, following your death, will not provide your spouse with a guaranteed lifetime monthly benefit, your spouse must provide written consent, with proper witness certification, on this waiver form.

If you are making application for a disability retirement, you must provide in addition to the aforementioned items, a form entitled "Disability Retirement Application Medical Report" as completed by your treating physician, as well as the supporting documentation addressed in the section entitled "Disability Retirement."

You are also required to complete a "Retirement - Direct Deposit Authorization and Input Form." If you do not wish to have your retirement benefit check electronically deposited to your account at your financial institution, you will need to complete the section requesting an exemption from participation on the form.

Counseling Services

In addition to the Human Resources or Payroll Officer at your own agency or facility, the Office of the State Comptroller provides group retirement counseling services to all state employees through its Retirement Services Division, located at 55 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106 (Telephone: (860) 702-3490). Appointments must be scheduled in advance.

The Division also provides retirement counseling workshops and benefit estimators on the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) website. These workshops provide informative “self-help” retirement counseling with the same information provided in traditional counseling sessions. These workshops are not meant to cover every retirement provision or detail, but rather are a general explanation of the most important retirement issues and considerations. Links are provided to relevant forms and outside vendors or entities as necessary. The workshops can be found on the OSC website under “Employee Resources” at http://www.osc.ct.gov/empret/index.html.

Along with the workshops, on-line benefit estimators are available to help you determine your estimated retirement benefit. You are responsible for entering the relevant data (age, length of service, salary, etc.) and the calculator will produce an estimated benefit by option factor. You may need help from your agency Human Resources or Payroll Officer to determine “high” salary or service credit information. The benefit estimators can also be found on the OSC website under “Employee Resources” at http://www.osc.ct.gov/empret/index.html.


OTHER INFORMATION


Assignment Of Benefits

You may not use your Tier III Plan interests as collateral or security for a loan. Any assignment by a member or beneficiary of any amount payable to any creditor shall be null and void. Retirement payments are for the support of the member or beneficiary and are exempt from the claims of creditors of such member and beneficiary except for court ordered plan approved domestic relations orders (divorce), the recovery of costs of incarceration, and recovery of damages by a victim of crime as specifically enumerated and described in Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 52-321a(b) and as determined or entered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Divorce - Plan Approved Domestic Relations Order (PADRO)

The State Employees Retirement System (SERS) is a governmental retirement plan and, as such, is exempt under United States Code, Title 29, Section 1003 from the federal requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Retirement Equity Act. However, the State Employees Retirement Act does provide for the division of pension benefits when it is so ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction in recognition of marital assets or child support obligations, providing such order is not contrary to SERS plan provisions. Attachment of SERS retirement benefits for purposes of equitable marital distribution must be accomplished through the terms of a Plan Approved Domestic Relations Order (“PADRO”).

It is important for the Court, attorneys, and the parties to become familiar with some important SERS plan provisions before executing a pension division order. A copy of the PADRO Guidelines which contain the procedures and provisions with regard to such orders are available on-line at: http://www.osc.ct.gov/empret/drorder/REVISED QDRO SERS GUIDELINES MAY 2017.pdf

Reporting And Disclosure

The Retirement Services Division has published this Tier III SPD online. A hard copy may be obtained by selecting “printable version” at the beginning of this SPD or by asking your employing agency Human Resources Office to provide you with a printed copy.

You will be advised of any significant changes or modifications to this plan either by on-line notification, through your employing agency or through a manner to be determined by the State Employees Retirement Commission as an appropriate means of dissemination.

Each year you will receive a personalized retirement benefits statement.

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