Office of the State Comptroller
Retirement Services Division

Frequently Asked Questions - Retiree

The following is a list of subject areas which you can use to find answers to some commonly asked questions. You can navigate to each group of questions by clicking on the desired subject area.

Retirement Planning
Annual IRS Form 1099-R
Cost-of-Living Increase
Direct Deposit
Federal & State Income Tax Withholding
Retirement Checks
Social Security
Change of Payment Option or Survivor Benefits
Contact Information
Divorce Information
Notification of a Death
Working After Retirement

Retirement Planning

I'm planning on retiring soon. Does CMERS provide insurance?

No, CMERS does not provide Life, Health, or Dental Insurance or any other type of retiree insurance. However, if you currently maintain insurance through your employing municipality, you should check with your employer to determine if you may elect to continue it after your retirement. Please discuss your insurance options with your Employer.

When should I contact CMERS concerning my anticipated retirement?

An individual considering retirement should their employer (the municipality) or their last municipal employer if applicable (not CMERS) at least 2 months in advance of the intended retirement date.

What Do I Need to Do?

You must contact your last municipal employer and tell them you wish to retire or to submit an application for retirement benefits. Form CO-1071, "Application for Municipal Retirement Benefits" must be prepared by the municipality when a qualified member wishes to receive a monthly retirement pension benefit from the MERS. The municipality must also certify that all the information on the application is correct by having an authorized individual sign and date the form on the last line on the back of the application. The completed form must be forwarded to the MERS Unit by the municipality along with the other required paperwork listed on the front of the application.

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Annual IRS Form 1099-R

When will I receive my IRS Form 1099R for filing my income taxes?

A Retiree Annual Statement including IRS Form 1099-R will be mailed to all CMERS benefit recipients by January 31 every year. It is thus very important that CMERS has your most up to date address so that you will receive this tax form.

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Cost-of-Living Increase

When do I receive a cost-of-living increase and how much will it be?

You will be eligible for an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) payable on the July 1st following your retirement date and each July 1st thereafter. The COLA for non-disability retirements will range from a minimum 2.5% to a maximum of 6% 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. For disability retirements, the COLA will range from a minimum of 3% to a maximum of 5% based upon the performance of the fund's investments. Click here for a listing of past COLA adjustments.

After I die, will my beneficiary or joint annuitant who is receiving continuing benefits from my account be eligible for cost-of-living increases?

Yes, just like a retired member, your beneficiary or joint annuitant will continue to receive cost-of-living increases each July.

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Direct Deposit

How can I change my direct deposit account?

A new signed direct deposit authorization request is required for direct deposit changes. Click here to be directed to the form.

How long does it take to change my direct deposit account?

Generally 4-6 weeks is required to complete the new direct deposit authorization requests. Many times one check may be mailed to your home address during the processing time, so it is very important that your home address is kept current with the Retired Payroll Section.

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Federal & State Income Tax Withholding

Must federal income tax be withheld from my retirement benefit?

No. You may choose not to have federal income tax withheld from your monthly retirement payment, by indicating your choice on a Withholding Preference Certificate, Form W-4P. Click here to download a blank Form W-4P. Until we receive your completed Form W-4P, taxes must be withheld as if you are married with 3 dependents. NOTE: If you choose not to have federal withholding tax withheld from your monthly retirement payment, you may be required to file a quarterly estimated tax. Please contact a tax advisor or the IRS for further information.

Will I need to complete a new Form W-4P every year?

No. The choice you make on your Form W-4P will remain in effect until you change it. You may change it at any time by completing a new Form W-4P.

Why does my Retiree Annual Statement say that I am married with 3 exemptions?

If you have not returned your Form W-4P, this is the default withholding required under federal law. We must withhold taxes from your monthly retirement benefit using this status until you complete and return the Withholding Preference Certificate, Form W-4P.

Can I have state income taxes owed for another state deducted from my CMERS retirement payment?

No. CMERS does not withhold state income taxes for other states.

For my federal taxes, I requested a specific dollar amount to be withheld from my pension check every month. Now I see that it has changed. Why?

Under current Federal withholding regulations, you may no longer designate a specific dollar amount to be withheld from your pension benefit. It now requires that your monthly withholding amount be based on the tax table according to 1) your marital status and 2) the number of withholding allowances you claim.

Since your federal taxes are based on a table, your withholding amount may change whenever 1) your benefit amount changes or 2) the federal tax tables change.

You may request to change to the amount of federal or state taxes withheld from your benefit amount at any time by submitting a new W-4P.

How often may I change my federal or state withholding?

A member or beneficiary may change their federal or state withholding with CMERS annually or at any other time their personal circumstances change and require a withholding adjustment.

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Retirement Checks

When do you mail the benefit checks? Is there any way I can get my check sooner?

Payroll is always the end of the month. All checks are placed in the mail and all Direct Deposits are automatically deposited into banking accounts at the end of the month. There is no way that you can get a check any sooner or at a different time.

What should I do if I don't receive my retirement benefit payment, or if my check is lost or stolen?

If you do not receive your retirement check on the last business day of the month, please wait until the 5th day of the following month before contacting CMERS about your missing retirement benefit payment. We must allow the Postal Service until the 5th of the following month to deliver the check. If your check is lost or stolen, call or e-mail CMERS immediately so we can place a "stop payment" on the check and issue a replacement check. Please note that it takes at least 10 business days to issue a replacement check.

If my benefit check is lost, is there a fee to have the check replaced?

Yes, CMERS may charge a fee for a replacement check in the amount of the bank charges incurred by CMERS. In the event CMERS has already issued a replacement check to the recipient in the previous twelve months, an administrative fee of $25.00 will be charged in addition to the amount of the bank charges. If you are still receiving your check in the mail, you may want to consider switching to Direct Deposit. With Direct Deposit you eliminate the delays caused by postal delivery and also protect yourself from checks that can be lost through misdelivered or stolen mail.

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Social Security

What effect does Social Security have on my CMERS benefit?

The CMERS system has a built-in social security reduction. While a person can collect full retirement with 25 years of service (and ostensibly retire at 45), Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 7-437 requires the CMERS retirement benefit to be reduced when the retiree is eligible for social security which is at age 62 - not at the age of "full retirement."

The state legislature drafted a formula for CMERS to use with regard to this age 62 reduction. In essence, the formula reduces the benefit by approximately 25% (e.g. a benefit of $1,357.17 per month would be reduced to $1,031.33). This reduction will not occur for non-Social Security CMERS participants.

If I am receiving a CMERS benefit but I don't choose to collect Social Security Benefits at age 62 will my benefit still be reduced?

Yes, under the Connecticut General Statue Statutes Sec 7-436 the key word is that when one becomes eligible for Social Security or starts to receive Security disability your benefit will be reduced. If you are retired from CMERS and covered by Social Security, your benefit will automatically be reduced by approximately 25% when you reach the age of 62. If you retire after the age of 62, the benefit will be reduced at that time.

Are there other Social Security Provisions Potentially Affecting CMERS Retirement?

Yes, there are two provisions affecting those who are collecting a CMERS pension and who are not covered by Social Security: the government pension offset and the windfall elimination provision.

Government Pension Offset If a CMERS member receives a pension from a government job in which s/he did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of the member's Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to as the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. The GPO will reduce the amount of the member's Social Security spouse's, widow's or widower's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension.

This law applies if the individual receives a government pension and is eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er). For more information about this provision, contact Social Security for the Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007) fact sheet.

Windfall Elimination Provision This law affects the way retirement or disability benefits are figured if the individual receives a pension from work not covered by Social Security. This Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) primarily affects a CMERS member if he or she earned a pension in any job where she did not pay Social Security taxes and also worked in other jobs long enough to qualify for a retirement or disability benefit.

CMERS cannot answer questions on how Social Security may ultimately affect a pension: questions on these issues must be referred to Social Security. It may very well be that the GPO and WEP provisions will have little or no impact on the pension division order. For more information, please see Windfall Elimination Provision (Publication No. 05-10045) at www.socialsecurity.gov/WEP. Or, for more information on GPO or WEP, you can contact the Social Security Administration at:

Web Site: http://www.ssa.gov
Toll-Free Number: 1-800-772-1213

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Change of Payment Option or Survivor Benefits

If I retire and receive pension payments amounting to more than my contributions, will my spouse still be entitled to survivor benefits if I die?

Regardless of the pension payments made to you, your spouse will be entitled to a survivor benefit assuming he/she is otherwise qualified and you have chosen a payment option allowing for survivor benefits.

May I change the beneficiary or optional payment plan I selected at any time during the retirement process or after retirement?

You can change your payment option, annuitant or beneficiary for a monthly survivor benefit or payment option at any time prior to cashing your first retirement check but no later than the 25th of the month following the month your first check is mailed. After this time, you will not be allowed to change your beneficiary or payment option, unless you chose the 10 year or 20 year option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant has died. In this case you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant. As a retiree, you can change your beneficiary for the guaranteed refund (if applicable) at any time by completing and submitting the proper beneficiary form to CMERS.

I had been retired just a few months when the amount of my retirement benefit changed. Why?

Your retirement benefit is generally based, in part, upon the salary earned and reported to CMERS during your last three years (or 36 months) of employment. Many times, verification of the salary paid for this period of time is not received in CMERS until after your first retirement payment has been issued. Consequently, your retirement benefit must be adjusted, either up or down, in the event projected salary figures (provided by your employer prior to your retirement) do not equal the actual payments of salary you received.

Is it possible to change my joint annuitant after I retire?

No. You will not be allowed to change your beneficiary or payment option, unless you chose the 10 year or 20 year option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant has died. In this case you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant.

If my beneficiary or joint annuitant dies after I retire, may I change my benefit payment option so I may receive a higher monthly benefit?

No, you may not change your selected option after your retire and once you cash or deposit your first benefit payment unless you chose the 10 year or 20 year option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant has died. In this case you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant.

May I change my benefit payment option if my spouse dies or if we divorce?

No, if you are retired, you may not change your selected option once you have cashed or deposited any retirement benefit even in the event of death or divorce unless you chose the 10 year or 20 year option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant has died. In this case you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant.

If I divorce my spouse after I receive my first retirement benefit payment, may I remove him or her as my joint annuitant?

No, if you are retired, you may not change your selected option once you have cashed or deposited any retirement benefit even in the event of death or divorce unless you chose the 10 year or 20 year option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant has died. In this case you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant.

What effect will the death of a contingent annuitant have on the amount of my retirement benefit under CMERS?

You should notify CMERS as it is possible. If you chose the 10 year or 20 year payment option benefit and your designated contingent annuitant died you may name a new contingent annuitant. CMERS will require a certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased annuitant. However, the death of a contingent annuitant will have no effect on the amount of your retirement benefit.

Can CMERS continue to collect repayment of an overpayment from my benefit check once I am deceased?

Yes. The obligation to make repayment does not die with the member. If the member chose a straight life annuity, a claim is filed against the estate to recoup the remaining amount of overpayment. If the member chose a payment option that has a contingent annuitant or spouse, the repayment continues to be taken from the monthly benefit.

If my spouse is working at the time of my death and is qualified to receive a survivor benefit, could he/she receive the monthly benefit and continue working regardless of where the employment is?

Yes, your spouse may work and qualify for survivor benefits.

At the time of my death, if my spouse qualifies for a survivor's benefit, who should he/she contact to apply?

In the event of your death, your spouse should contact CMERS to begin the process of receiving death benefits.

If my wife and I both receive a pension from CMERS and one of us dies, will the surviving spouse continue to receive their pension and also be entitled to receive survivor benefits?

If the surviving spouse qualifies for survivor benefits, they would be entitled to receive their pension and survivor benefits.

As a CMERS member contributing to Social Security, would my survivor benefit be offset by Social Security benefits?

Yes. If you die before the age of 62 and your spouse receives a monthly benefit as your annuitant after your death, the benefit will still be reduced by the Social Security offset when you (the member) would have reached 62 years of age.

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Contact Information

Does CMERS have a toll-free phone number?

Not at this time.

Why can't you give specific information to me over the phone when I ask questions about my benefit?

CMERS has an obligation to protect the confidential records of its membership. Benefit information cannot be released over the phone since there is no way to confirm an individual's identity over the phone. CMERS will forward information, including dollars, in writing to the member or their designated representative. The written information is mailed to the address CMERS has on file for the member unless the member has instructed CMERS to forward the information in writing to a third party. CMERS cannot fax the information or mail it to another address unless CMERS receives written authorization with the member's signature.

How do I report a change of address to CMERS?

Please click here for CMERS' official change of address form. CMERS will also accept notification in the form of a letter or fax. Your notification must include:

All address changes must be received in writing with a handwritten sign.

I am retired and have a winter and a summer address. Do I have to notify you each time I move?

As a retired member you must notify CMERS each time you change locations. Address changes must be submitted in writing. The request should include your name, social security number, the new address and your signature. For the member's protection, address change requests cannot be accepted by phone or email to ensure the request came from the member and not from an outside party for illegal purposes. There is no way to ensure identity over the phone.

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Divorce Information

I am retired and in "pay status" and need to have alimony deducted from my pension. Can I call CMERS and initiate the process?

First, the moment that you believe a divorce or legal separation is possible, you and your legal representative should review the section of this website dealing with divorce. CMERS must have a court order in order to initiate an alimony deduction from your benefit. CMERS is not subject to the federally mandated QDRO requirement: state statutes provide for the establishment of a Plan Approved Domestic Relations order (PADRO). CMERS has developed guidelines that provide instructions on the requirements for such an order.

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Notification of a Death

My mother was receiving a benefit after my father passed away. She has now passed away. What death benefits are available?

Except for rare occasions when more than one contingent annuitant is chosen by the retiree, there usually are no further benefits payable to any other family member. You should contact either the employing municipality or CMERS and verify this information.

Should the retirement benefit payment issued at the end of the month of my death be returned to CMERS?

When someone dies, CMERS pays that member through the date of death only. The member's estate must reimburse MERS for the portion of the check that represents the time after the date of death. The executor or administrator of the estate can either send CMERS the check back and CMERS will return a partial payment or they can simply return the overpayment

What should the administrator of my estate do if he/she has trouble cashing or depositing the retirement benefit received after my death?

The administrator should contact CMERS with regard to the situation.

After I die, and if I chose a payment option with an annuitant, can my beneficiary or joint annuitant remarry and continue receiving a benefit from my account?

Yes. Remarriage does not affect the benefit payment a beneficiary or joint annuitant is receiving.

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WORKING AFTER RETIREMENT

May I work after I retire and still receive my CMERS pension?

Yes, with a few limitations. First, if you work in the private sector, your pension is not affected. Second, if you return to a participating CMERS municipality or agency in a permanent position, your pension stops immediately. You will resume membership in the CMERS and receive additional service credit for this period of reemployment when you next retire. Third, if you are employed by CMERS as a temporary employee and paid on a municipal payroll, you are limited to 90 working days in a calendar year. Any part of a day is considered a day worked.

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