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  • BackDROP & Survivor Benefit?

    Aug 21, 2018, 3:31 PM By MOSERS

    If I have completed my five year backdrop period and continue working in my state position, would my spouse receive the backdrop lump sum payment if I died while still working?

    For example, if I completed the five year backdrop period on 8-1-2018, continued working, planned on retiring on 6-1-2019, but died on 3-1-2019 - would my spouse receive the lump sum back drop as well as the monthly survivor pension benefit, or would she just receive the monthly survivor pension benefit?

    If you pass away before your retirement date, any elections you made about retirement are null and void, including any elections about BackDROP. If you were still working and had not yet reached your retirement date, you are considered an “active member” and we must pay your eligible survivor. Your spouse’s monthly survivor benefit would be based on the Joint & 100% benefit payment option and calculated using your final average pay and credited service as of your date of death. Your spouse would not receive the BackDROP lump-sum payment if you died prior to your retirement date. In calculating your spouse’s monthly benefit, we would count the time in what would have been your BackDROP period – your total years and months of creditable service. For more information regarding survivor benefits, please visit the death of a member section of our website.

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  • Increasing Contributions?

    Aug 20, 2018, 3:46 PM By MOSERS

    Is it possible to contribute more to your pension, to lower your retirement date and still receive a full pension?

    No. The only potential way to move your retirement eligibility date closer is to purchase or transfer qualifying prior public service that you may have and combine it with your MOSERS pension. See our Purchasing and Transferring Service Credit brochure (MSEP 2011) for more information or contact a MOSERS benefit counselor to see if you qualify and if it would be beneficial for you to do so.

    In order for any prior public service to qualify, it must have been full-time, nonfederal, public (government) employment that you performed in Missouri. Examples include prior employment with a public school, city, or county in Missouri, or employment covered by the MoDOT & Patrol Employees Retirement System (MPERS). This could potentially make you eligible for retirement sooner if the extra service resulted in you hitting the Rule of 90 prior to age 67. (The Rule of 90 is available only to those still actively employed by the state.)

    You may also want to keep in mind that you are not required to keep working for the state until retirement age in order to get your pension. Once you are vested with MOSERS, even if you leave state employment, you will be eligible for a lifetime monthly benefit once you also meet the age and all other legal requirements and retire under a MOSERS defined benefit pension plan. Your benefit is calculated using the formula:

    Final Average Pay x Credited Service x Multiplier = Monthly Base Benefit.

    Remember, it is this formula, NOT employee contributions (made by those first employed on or after 1/1/2011), that determines your monthly retirement benefit. The longer you work, the more your benefit will be.

    You certainly can contribute more to MO Deferred Comp to increase your supplemental savings for retirement but it won’t make you eligible for retirement any sooner.

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  • Prop A

    Aug 8, 2018, 11:10 AM By MOSERS

    How will the rejection of Prop A impact retirees? Will they have to pay union dues? Will a portion of dues go to political candidates? Thank you.

    Prop A has no impact on any MOSERS retiree benefits.

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  • Funding

    Aug 3, 2018, 4:14 PM By MOSERS

    I don't understand if mosers is profiting so well why do the retirees only get 1.5% raise. It seems like the pot gets bigger and why not pass it out. The cost of living goes up an up but the retirees are going backwards. I have been retired 14 years and only get 21% increase and Mosers does about 7.5% thats 147% increase. It looks a little lopsided. I know it's a complicated process. Like the ones that took the back drop you handed them a bonus that i never saw because I choose to retire and give a job to younger adults instead of letting them not work and the back droppers working filling that spot. 

    The way that MOSERS is set up, neither staff nor Board Members can decide to increase cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) or monthly retirement benefits. It is all based on state statute and it all factors into the overall funding structure of the retirement system.

    COLAs are calculated according to state statute (104.010.14 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri), which stipulates that the CPI used to calculate COLAs must be the “CPI-U (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers). For most general state employees, the COLA is based on 80% of the percentage increase in the average CPI from one year to the next. COLAs are intended to help you cope with the rising cost of goods and services that you buy. You can see a detailed explanation of how the COLA is calculated in our annual COLA Memo.

    Your benefit is calculated using the formula: Final Average Pay x Credited Service x Multiplier = Monthly Base Benefit. Benefit amounts vary for each retiree based on their individual pay and service history. Funding to pay benefits comes from three sources:

    1. Contributions from Employers, as a percentage of employee payroll
    2. Contributions from Employees first employed in a benefit-eligible position on or after January 1, 2011
    3. Investment Returns

    The purpose of investing trust fund assets is to provide a funding source that helps pay the cost of the benefits. Over that past 20 years, 61% of the assets in the MOSERS Trust Fund have come from investment returns. If it weren’t for the income from investments, the cost to the state and to members would be significantly higher. When calculating how much the state will have to contribute going forward, our external actuaries make assumptions on various economic and demographic factors. One is how much we can expect to earn from investment income. That assumption for FY18, which ended June 30, 2018, was 7.5%.

    BackDROP isn’t a bonus. It is a benefit payment option available at retirement if an employee works at least two years beyond their normal retirement eligibility date. It allows such members to get a lump-sum payment in addition to their monthly benefit. However, none of their pay or service credit during their BackDROP period counts toward their monthly benefit. So, generally speaking, their monthly benefit is less if they elect BackDROP than it would have been had they not taken BackDROP.

    Thank you for your question and for your service to the State of Missouri.

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  • Withdrawing Funds

    Aug 3, 2018, 3:59 PM By MOSERS

    Is possible to withdraw a portion of our annuity?

    No. MOSERS is a non-contributory defined benefit (DB) plan for members employed before January 1, 2011. As such a member, your employer pays the necessary contributions to MOSERS while you are actively employed so that you may receive a future monthly retirement benefit and potential survivor benefits. Since you do not pay contributions, you are not eligible to withdraw funds from the retirement system.

    Members employed in a MOSERS-covered position for the first time on or after January 1, 2011 are required to contribute 4% of their gross salary to help fund the retirement system. Those members, if they leave state employment, have the option of requesting a refund of the contributions they have made to MOSERS plus any interest on their contributions – if they do so prior to reaching normal retirement eligibility. Any member who receives a refund will forfeit service credit and the right to receive any future retirement benefits from MOSERS.

    Any refund of contributions taken as cash (as opposed to rolling it over to MO Deferred Comp, a traditional IRA, or other qualified retirement plan) is considered taxable income for the year you receive it. MOSERS is required to withhold 20% for federal taxes on such a refund. If you receive a cash payment before you reach age 59½ and do not roll it over, you may have to pay an IRS a penalty equal to 10% of the taxable portion of the payment in addition to the regular income tax. See our Special Tax Notice brochure for more information.

    The IRS does not currently allow pension plans to offer lump-sum payouts to current retirees in exchange for reduced future benefit payments. MOSERS did offer a buyout program which enabled eligible members to accept a lump-sum payment in lieu of all future annuity payments. However, this program was not available to members who had already begun receiving monthly benefits.

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  • High 36

    Aug 3, 2018, 1:52 PM By MOSERS

    My five year BackDROP period is complete. I know my retirement check is based on my best 36 months. If I do not elect BackDROP, Can I use my best 36 months throughout my entire career, or only the period prior to my original BackDROP date?

    Yes, if at retirement you do not elect BackDROP, we will review your entire pay history and find the 36-month period with your highest pay, which may be in your final years of employment, and will use that in calculating your monthly benefit.

    Background for Other Readers: Any pay or service you get during your BackDROP period is not counted when calculating your monthly benefit payment. If you become eligible for and elect the BackDROP upon retirement, your highest 36 consecutive months would be determined from your MOSERS-covered work history prior to your BackDROP date.

    But keep in mind, you are not required to take BackDROP, regardless of how long you work beyond normal retirement eligibility, and you don’t have to notify MOSERS of any decisions about BackDROP until you retire. You may elect not to take BackDROP if you want all your service and pay to count and, likely, increase your monthly benefit.

    Our BackDROP page, with a BackDROP graphic near the bottom, may help you visualize how it works or you can read the BackDROP brochure for more information. BackDROP can be complicated to understand, so MOSERS benefit counselors are available to help by phone or through an in-person appointment. Call (800) 827-1063 to discuss your options. Counselors can also provide you with benefit estimates with and without the BackDROP so you can compare.

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  • Rule of 80 & Age 55

    Aug 2, 2018, 3:57 PM By MOSERS

    One of my coworkers informed me that state employees who are retirement eligible per the rule of 80 will be penalized if they are under the age of 55. I am not aware of any such penalty but wanted to ask. 

    No. There is no penalty or reduction to your MOSERS pension benefit if you meet both the age and service requirements for normal retirement eligibility before the age of 55. To be eligible to retire under the Rule of 80 in the MSEP and MSEP 2000, you must be at least age 48 and your age and years of service must equal 80 or more.

    Taxes &/or penalties related to other distributions:


    • There may be a 10% IRS tax penalty if you are younger than age 59 ½ at the time of payment, elect BackDROP*, and take a lump-sum cash payment. If you terminate employment in or after the year you reach age 55, this penalty will not apply. Additionally, MOSERS is required to withhold 20% of a BackDROP cash payment for federal taxes. More details are available in the Special Tax Notice brochure on our website. In such a situation, you can avoid the IRS tax penalty by rolling over the BackDROP payment to a qualified retirement account such as with MO Deferred Comp and not withdrawing it until you meet all IRS regulations (generally speaking, that is after you attain age 59 1/2 but there are exceptions, see page 4 of the Special Tax Notice brochure (BackDROP and Refunds), including one for public safety employees).
    • If you have made pre-tax contributions to the MO Deferred Comp plan (an internal revenue code section 457(b) plan), distributions from that plan following retirement or termination of service at any age are subject to ordinary income tax only.
    • Employer “match” contributions made on behalf of an employee to a 401(a) plan are subject to an additional 10% penalty if withdrawn prior to age 59 1/2.

    Be sure to check with your financial institution or a tax advisor for information about your tax liability when you begin withdrawing your funds.

    *BackDROP is available only to general state employees who are members of MSEP & MSEP 2000 and who work at least two years beyond normal retirement eligibility.

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  • Break in Service

    Aug 1, 2018, 1:21 PM By MOSERS

    If I want to take a break from working right after retirement and not do the backdrop at that moment, how long can that break be before I decide to go back to work in a MOSERS-covered position? Or can that be done? And will that be considered backdrop then?

    Per MOSERS board rule, a break in service is being off payroll for an entire calendar month. It looks like you have three options.

    1. If you retire and return to work in a benefit-eligible* position, your monthly retirement payment will stop as soon as we are notified that you are re-employed. Once you have worked for at least 12 continuous months in your new benefit-eligible position, you will begin accruing additional retirement benefits. Once you re-retire, your benefits will be recalculated and your benefit payments will resume. You are not allowed to elect BackDROP after you have first retired. In other words, you will not be eligible for BackDROP if you return to state employment after having already retired from the state.
    2. If you retire and return to work in any position not covered by MOSERS or MPERS (including work for the state in a non-benefit-eligible position), you may continue receiving your MOSERS pension benefits and earn as much as you wish. Such employment will have no effect on your MOSERS benefit.
    3. If you leave state employment but don’t retire and then, after a break in service, return to state employment in a benefit-eligible position, you may become eligible for and elect BackDROP.

    Visit our website for a list MOSERS covered employers. Be sure to discuss your situation with the human resources staff at the agency where you are considering employment. They will be able to tell you whether or not the position is eligible for benefits.

    You may contact a MOSERS benefit counselor to get more information about your individual situation and options.

    *A benefit-eligible position is one that normally require at least 1,040 hours of work per year, is permanent in nature, and is covered by MOSERS or the MoDOT and Patrol Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS). Your employer, not MOSERS, determines if you are working in a benefit-eligible position.

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  • Final Average Pay & BackDROP

    Aug 1, 2018, 12:53 PM By MOSERS

    Note: the question below refers to a previous Rumor Central question from July 2018:

    "As you referenced, FAP is determined using your highest 36 full consecutive months of pay when looking at your entire work history covered under MOSERS. Practically speaking, for most, that is their last three years, but not always. The exception to this would occur under the BackDROP (if eligible). If you become eligible for and elect the BackDROP upon retirement, your highest 36 consecutive months would be determined from your MOSERS-covered work history prior to your BackDROP date. In other words, any pay or service during your BackDROP period doesn’t count toward your monthly benefit payments."
    Okay, based off this information, since I am working on my back-drop currently, an increase in pay will NOT increase my retirement? I am planning on working overtime as a Correctional Officer, will this have an effect on the amount of money I receive in my retirement? Yes or No...

    You are correct that pay earned during your BackDROP period will not count towards calculating your retirement benefit. Your monthly benefit will be calculated using your final average pay (FAP) and credited service as of your BackDROP date (the day your BackDROP period begins).

    Any pay or service you get during your BackDROP period is not counted when calculating your monthly benefit payment. To be clear, any overtime pay you receive during your BackDROP period will not be considered in calculating your final average pay. But keep in mind, you are not required to take BackDROP, regardless of how long you work beyond normal retirement eligibility, and you don’t have to notify MOSERS of any decisions about BackDROP until you retire. You may elect not to take BackDROP if you want all your service and pay to count and, likely, increase your monthly benefit.

    Our BackDROP page, with a BackDROP graphic near the bottom, may help you visualize how it works or you can read the BackDROP brochure for more information. BackDROP can be complicated to understand, so MOSERS benefit counselors are available to help by phone or through an in-person appointment. Call (800) 827-1063 to discuss your options. Counselors can also provide you with benefit estimates with and without the BackDROP so you can compare.

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  • Funded Status

    Jul 31, 2018, 8:11 AM By MOSERS

    I have heard reports on the news saying that our retirement benefits are only 60% funded and that MOSERS is in trouble. What is going on with that? 

    Just to clarify, MOSERS pays 100% of the benefits due to members. The “funded” status that you are hearing about in the news has to do with the assets we have on hand relative to all current and future liabilities. As of June 30, 2017, MOSERS is 67.5% funded (p. 129 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report - 2017).

    Your MOSERS Board of Trustees is actively engaged in prudent analysis, plan sustainability, and benefit security for members. The Board's recent decisions to reduce the assumed rate of return on investments will result in higher employer contributions and a lower funded status in the short term but will strengthen MOSERS’ financial position in the long term. Each year, the MOSERS Board certifies an employer contribution rate which results in a state budget appropriations request. The employer contribution is based on a variety of factors and is calculated by our external actuary as the amount needed in order for MOSERS to pay current and future benefits.

    Money to pay your retirement benefits comes from three sources:

    1. Employer Contributions: The Missouri General Assembly has consistently appropriated the full employer contribution to MOSERS as recommended by our external actuary. Governor Parson signed the FY19 budget bills passed by the General Assembly, including the MOSERS appropriation contained in HB 2005, which fully funds the Board certified employer contribution rate. Pension systems that are in trouble are generally those that have a consistent pattern of not receiving the full amount of employer contributions.
    2. Employee Contributions: Members first employed in a MOSERS or MPERS benefit-eligible position on or after 1/1/2011 contribute 4% of pay to their retirement system.Investment Returns: Over that past 20 years, 61% of the assets in the MOSERS Trust Fund have come from investment returns. MOSERS earned approximately 7.5% for Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2018, which added approximately $600 million to the MOSERS trust fund.

    Please see Key Facts Regarding Funding for more information. We will send a summary annual financial report for Fiscal Year 2018 to all members in December as part of the fall/winter newsletter.

     

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Disclaimer

We strive to provide the most accurate information possible in our answers to Rumor Central questions. However, occasionally, laws, policies or provisions change and individual circumstances may vary. Please contact a MOSERS benefit counselor or see the handbooks in our website Library for more detailed information. If there is any difference between the information provided in this blog or on the MOSERS website and the law or policies that govern MOSERS, the law and policies will prevail. See our Privacy, Security & Legal Notices for more information.