State of Connecticut Armorial Bearings

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


TYPES OF RETIREMENT


WHEN YOU MAY RETIRE AND RECEIVE BENEFITS

Normal Retirement

Your normal retirement date will be the first of any month on or after you are age 63 if you have at least 25 years of vesting service or age 65 if you have at least 10 but less than 25 years of vesting service.

Early Retirement

If you have at least 10 years of vesting service, you can receive retirement benefits if you retire on the first of any month on or following your 58th birthday.

Hazardous Duty Retirement

You may retire with a benefit on the first of any month on or after you have completed 25 years of credited service while a hazardous duty member or after attainment of age 50 if you have completed at least 20 years of credited service while a hazardous duty member.

The time you are away from your hazardous duty job because of an approved eligible leave of absence, military service or qualifying non-state employment may count toward your years of credited service as a hazardous duty member provided:

For detectives, chief inspectors or inspectors in the Division of Criminal Justice or chief detectives in any other division, certain prior service as a sworn member of a municipal police department, if purchased, can count toward the twenty year minimum requirement for hazardous duty benefits, under certain circumstances.

Disability Retirement

If you become permanently disabled and have 10 years of vesting service, you may be eligible for disability retirement benefits. If your disability is job related, you may receive benefits regardless of your years of service. Note: Prior military service cannot be used for eligibility or calculation purposes for a disability retirement.

Important Note Concerning Workers Compensation and Retirement: Receipt of workers compensation disability payments under Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), Section 5-142(a) may prevent you from receiving any retirement benefits until the payments end - receipt of section 5-142(a) payments may stop your SERS retirement benefit. This provision is applicable to all types of retirement - normal, early, hazardous duty or disability.


NORMAL RETIREMENT


YOUR BENEFIT IS BASED ON A FORMULA

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible for normal retirement benefits on the first of any month on which or after you attain:

OR

The Benefit Formula

For retirement income calculation purposes, your credited service is used in the formula.

Your basic annual retirement benefit equals:

one and one-third percent (.0133) X average salary
PLUS
one-half of one percent (.005) X average salary in excess of the year's breakpoint
TIMES
years of credited service to a maximum of 35 years
AND
one and five-eighths percent X average salary
(.01625)
TIMES
years of credited service over 35 years

Keep in mind your credited service includes fractions of a year, based on completed months of service. The above chart provides you with your annual benefit. To determine what your basic monthly benefit will be, divide your annual retirement by 12.

If you retire in the first six months of the year, your benefit will not be less than the benefit you would have received had you retired on the previous December 31st.

On-line benefit estimators are available on the OSC website 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 be found on the OSC website under “Employee Resources” or at the following link: http://www.osc.ct.gov/empret/indxwork.htm 

Reminder: Pursuant to the 2011 SEBAC agreement the earnings breakpoint is under review.


EARLY RETIREMENT


YOU MAY RETIRE WITH A BENEFIT IF YOU HAVE 10 YEARS OF VESTING SERVICE AND ARE AT LEAST AGE 58


How Your Benefit is Figured

Your basic early retirement benefit is first figured with the same formula used for a normal retirement benefit. Your average salary and years of credited service, as of your early retirement date, are used in the calculations.

Your basic normal benefit amount is then reduced by half of one percent (.005) for each month you retire prior to your attaining age 63 if you have at least 25 years vesting service, or age 65 if you have at least 10 but less than 25 years vesting service.

These reductions are required because your benefits are expected to be paid over a longer time period.

An Example

Suppose you retire effective July 1, 2021 on your 63rd birthday with at least 10 years vesting service. Let's assume your basic monthly benefit at normal retirement would be $500. This basic benefit would then be reduced by one half of one percent for each month you receive a benefit before your 65th birthday, as follows:

your basic monthly normal retirement benefit:    $500.00
Minus
one half of one percent (.005) of $500 X 24 $    60.00
(24 months before your 65th birthday)    $440.00

Your basic early retirement benefit at age 63 would be $440.00 per month.


HAZARDOUS DUTY RETIREMENT


YOU MAY RETIRE WITH A BENEFIT AT ANY AGE IF YOU HAVE 25 YEARS OF HAZARDOUS DUTY SERVICE OR AT AGE 50 IF YOU HAVE AT LEAST 20 YEARS OF HAZARDOUS DUTY SERVICE

Definition Of Hazardous Duty

You are considered a hazardous duty member if you are an employee working:

The Hazardous Duty Appendix was created as a result of the 1988 - 1994 Pension Arbitration Award and lists all state job classifications which have been designated as covered under the hazardous duty provisions of the State Employees Retirement System. In some circumstances the job classifications may be covered under hazardous duty provisions only when used at certain state agencies and facilities.

The Hazardous Duty Appendix is available on the OSC website at the following link: http://www.osc.ct.gov/rbsd/hazduty/index.html

How Your Benefit Is Figured

If you qualify for a hazardous duty retirement, your basic annual benefit will be calculated as follows:

50% (.50) for 20 years hazardous duty service    X    average salary   
   PLUS    
2% (.02)    X   all service over 20 years (which could include service for state jobs not classified as hazardous duty as well as other credited service)    X    average salary

To determine what your basic monthly income would be, divide your basic annual retirement income by 12.

On-line benefit estimators are available on the OSC website to help you determine your estimated hazardous duty 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 be found on the OSC website under “Employee Resources” or at the following link: http://www.osc.ct.gov/empret/indxwork.htm 


Important Note: The annual retirement benefits payable from Tier III are subject to the dollar limit imposed by Section 415(b). The 2011 calendar year benefit limit is $195,000 for members aged 62 to 65; the 2012 calendar year benefit limit is $200,000 for members aged 62 to 65. However the benefit limit is adjusted downward for retirements beginning before age 62. Although special rules apply under Section 415(b) for certain "qualified police and firefighters", you should be aware that many of the classifications designated as hazardous duty under SERS are not considered "qualified police and firefighters" and are subject to the Section 415(b) benefit limitation for regular governmental employees which is significantly lower for employees retiring before age 50.

If You Leave State Service Before Meeting The Eligibility Requirements For A Hazardous Duty Benefit

Hazardous duty members who leave state service before qualifying for hazardous duty retirement benefits may, if eligible to do so, receive early, normal, or vested retirement benefits. Contributions in excess of those required for an early, normal, or vested rights retirement benefit will be refunded to the member following retirement. Upon completion of the appropriate refund application form, terminated vested members may receive a refund of the excess contributions before their retirement benefits begin. Hazardous duty members who retire on disability retirement are not entitled to a refund of any of their hazardous duty contributions.


DISABILITY RETIREMENT


YOU MAY RECEIVE RETIREMENT BENEFITS IF YOU BECOME PERMANENTLY DISABLED

Types of Disability

There are two types of disability retirement available to eligible SERS members: a service connected disability (SCD) and a non-service connected disability (NSD) benefit.

  1. Service Connected Disability Retirement Benefit - A member may apply for this retirement benefit if while on active payroll in state service, he or she becomes disabled as a result of any injury received while in the performance of his or her duty as a state employee. The member may be eligible for service connected disability retirement regardless of age or years of service
  2. Non-service Connected Disability Retirement Benefit - An member is eligible for this benefit if, prior to age sixty-five, he is disabled and has completed (or has) at least ten years of SERS service. In other words, employees with less than 10 years of service credit are only eligible for a service connected disability retirement: they are not eligible to apply for a non-service connected disability retirement benefit.

Disability Standard

A member is disabled and eligible to receive a disability retirement benefit for the first twenty-four months if he or she is permanently unable to continue to render the service in which he has been employed: that is the employee is unable to perform the duties of his occupation. After 24 months, the standard for disability retirement changes and the disability retirement continues thereafter only if such member is totally disabled for any suitable and comparable job. “Suitable and comparable” can refer to any job that a disability retiree is capable of performing considering his age, education, physical limitations, vocational skills, and experience.

Disability Retirement Application Process

To apply for a disability retirement 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 as described under “The Application Process” in the Section of this SPD entitled WHEN YOU ARE READY TO RETIRE. You will also need to provide a form entitled "Disability Retirement Application Medical Report" as completed by your treating physician, as well as diagnostic test and hospital summaries and any other relevant information of ongoing care for the condition on which your application is based. The completed application is then forwarded to the Retirement Services Division.

The determination of eligibility for disability retirement benefits is made by the Medical Examining Board (MEB). The Retirement Services Division does not determine whether or not a member is disabled. The Division, on behalf of the Medical Examining Board (MEB), accepts applications for disability retirement with appropriate medical documentation. It is the member’s responsibility to show that he or she is disabled under the standard for disability retirement and to ensure that all medical documents, reviews, records and reports necessary to support his or her claim for disability retirement are properly submitted to the MEB.
The MEB performs medical record(s) review with regard to applications for disability retirement. The MEB may conduct reexaminations at any time to determine continuance of disability. The MEB using its medical judgment may believe or disbelieve any evidence presented before it so long as its final determination is supported by the evidence. The MEB may also make a determination as to whether a disability is service connected. Findings and determinations made by the MEB may be made without holding a hearing and solely on the basis of a "record review."

It is important to note that due to the number of applicants, it may take 3-6 months before a disability retirement application can be reviewed by the MEB.

Assuming your disability retirement application is approved, your entitlement to a continued disability benefit is reviewed again after you receive benefits for 24 months. The MEB will require updated medical records and review continued eligibility under the “suitable and comparable” standard. That is, after 24 months you must show that you are disabled from any and all comparable positions for which you would be suited for by experience and training. You must submit proof of continuing disability at the request of the Retirement Services Division.

How Your Disability Benefit is Calculated

There are several components used in the determination of the amount of your SERS disability retirement benefit: the statutory benefit, the 100% maximum, the 80% maximum and the 60% minimum.

  1. The "Statutory Benefit"

The statutory benefit is the basic benefit calculated prior to the application of the minimum or maximum rules or any offsets.

If you qualify for a disability retirement, the following formula is used to compute your basic annual benefit:

one and one-third percent (.0133)    X    average salary
  PLUS  
one-half of one percent (.005)    X   average salary
    in excess of the year’s
    breakpoint
    TIMES  
years of service if you had kept working to age 65 (up to a maximum of 30 years)
     OR  
actual years of credited service as of your disability (whichever is greater)

To determine what your basic monthly benefit will be, divide by 12.

Your disability retirement, either service or non-service connected, is subject to certain offsets. Those offsets are: (1) Social Security regular and disability (SSDI) benefits (individual and family Social Security disability payments); (2) most workers compensation payments and (3) outside earnings (where you work or earn income from another employer while collecting a disability retirement benefit from SERS).

It is important to note that these benefits are not always "dollar for dollar" offsets to your SERS retirement benefit but rather are just one component used in determination of your benefit. Therefore, your disability retirement may start with one monthly benefit amount and then be reduced if and when you receive any type of social security benefits or workers compensation payments and increase (or further decrease) due to changes in those benefits. Workers compensation benefits alone may not reduce your benefit but when coupled with SSDI payments may severely reduce or even eliminate in its entirety your SERS monthly retirement benefit.

It is your duty and obligation when receiving a disability retirement benefit to promptly notify the Retirement Services Division upon receipt of any social security income, workers compensation payment or outside earnings. Failure to do so will cause an overpayment of your retirement benefit and repayment of the amount through a reduction of your retirement benefit.

Important Note: Receipt of workers compensation disability payments under Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), Section 5-142(a) may prevent you from receiving any retirement benefits until the payments end - receipt of section 5-142(a) payments may stop your SERS retirement benefit.

  1. The "100% Maximum" Rule

There is a maximum benefit limitation you can receive with respect to the combined income from your SERS disability benefit, individual and family Social Security disability benefits, workers compensation payments and outside earnings. You must receive outside earnings for this rule to apply.

The total amount you may receive from these sources, combined with your Tier III benefit, cannot be more than 100% of your average salary or 100% of your salary at the time of disability, if higher.

If your total benefits exceed the 100% maximum, your Tier III benefit will be reduced. The reduction will be the amount needed to bring the benefit total down to the 100% maximum.

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits or workers compensation payments but no outside earnings, the 80% maximum and the 60% minimum rules apply.

  1. The "80% Maximum" Rule

There is a maximum benefit limitation a disability retiree can receive with respect to the combined income from a SERS disability benefit, individual and family Social Security disability benefits, and workers compensation payments.

The total amount you may receive from these sources, combined with your Tier III benefit, cannot be more than 80% of your average salary or 80% of your salary at the time of disability, if higher.

If your total benefits exceed the 80% maximum, your Tier III benefit will be reduced. The reduction will be the amount needed to bring the benefit total down to the 80% maximum.

If you do not receive social security or workers compensation payments, the 80% rule will not apply.

  1. The "60% Benefit"

As a SERS member your combined income from a SERS disability benefit, individual and family Social Security disability benefits, and workers compensation payments cannot be less than 60% of your rate of salary (base salary of office) at the time your disability occurred.

This is a minimum benefit using combined income therefore your receipt of any Social Security benefit (including but not limited to "normal" social security benefit at age 65) or workers compensation following your receipt of SERS disability retirement benefits will usually reduce your SERS benefit.

Important Note: As long as you remain disabled, your disability retirement benefit will never revert to a normal retirement benefit.

If You Recover

All disability retirement benefits will end if you recover from your condition before your normal retirement date. You will receive credit for the period of time you were receiving Tier III disability benefits. The total number of years including the time you worked and the period you were receiving the disability benefits is subject to a maximum of 30 years. However, if your service at time of disability is greater than 30, you will receive credit for your total years of service before your disability.

Special Note

In the event that the Retirement Medical Examining Board determines that you are not permanently disabled from performing your job duties, the agency where you were last actively employed will be required to return you to employment, if you so choose. This assumes there are no other employment related reasons for your separation.

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