Retirement Board

 

 

The Retirement Board is responsible for providing City employees and retirees with information regarding retirement benefits and regulations.

Mission Statement

To provide accurate, timely, and consistent guidance and benefits to members and their beneficiaries in a courteous and professional manner.

To ensure that the investment portfolio is adequately diversified at an acceptable risk level to provide sufficient assets to fund the benefits when due.

Vision Statement

To become a retirement benefits leader in member counseling and benefits delivery by embracing technology, supporting staff development, and focusing on member needs.

 

The Holyoke Contributory Retirement System is one of 105 contributory retirement systems within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws defines the benefits, contribution requirements, accounting procedures and funding for all 105 systems.  The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) oversees the systems and ensures that all boards are in compliance with Chapter 32.

The retirement system is funded by an annual appropriation from City departments and from employee contributions.  These funds are invested in fixed income, domestic and international equities, commodities, private equity and real estate.

The Holyoke Retirement Board is responsible for providing all city employees with information regarding benefits and regulations pertaining to retirement, in addition to overseeing the administration of the office.  The Board is made up of 5 members; an Ex-Officio member, 2 elected members, 1 member appointed by the Mayor, and 1 member appointed by the other 4 members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Melendez - Admin Assistant

413-322-5590

mmelendez@ret.holyoke.ma.us

Erica LeCours - Admin. Assistant

413-322-5590

elecours@ret.holyoke.ma.us

Raymond Depelteau - Chief Investment Officer

413-322-5590

rdepelteau@ret.holyoke.ma.us

No posts found.

Current Members:

 

John T. McCarthy, Chairman, Elected Member – term expires June, 2016

Daniel R. Owens, Elected Member - term expires June, 2017

Michele Aubrey, Appointed Member - term expires February, 2018

Bellamy H. Schmidt, Appointed Member - term expires January, 2017

(Ex-Officio Member) 

Click below to access 2016 Direct Deposit Calendar. 

2016 Direct Deposit Calendar

 

 

Click below for Direct Deposit Authorization Form.

 Direct Deposit Form

For a quick estimate of your retirement allowance, click on the appropriate chart below:

MEMBERSHIP DATE PRIOR TO 4/2/2012:

Percentage Chart – Group 1

Percentage Chart – Group 2

Percentage Chart – Group 4

 

MEMBERSHIP DATE ON OR AFTER 4/2/2012:  

Percentage Chart – Group 1

Percentage Chart – Group 2

Percentage Chart – Group 4

 

IS MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED FOR ALL NEW EMPLOYEES?

Membership is mandatory by state law for nearly all public employees who are regularly and permanently employed on a full-time basis. Part-time (less than 20 hours per week), seasonal and temporary employees who are ineligible for membership are required to contribute to a deferred compensation plan.

 

FOR WHOM IS MEMBERSHIP OPTIONAL?

Elected officials may elect to become members within 90 days of commencement of service.

 

WHAT ARE GROUP CLASSIFICATIONS?

  • Group 1 members are officials and general employees included clerical, administrative and technical workers, laborers, mechanics and all others not otherwise classified.
  • Group 2 includes ambulance attendants and fire alarm operators
  • Group 4 consists of public safety officers, such as policemen and firefighters, and certain employees with hazardous occupations.

 

HOW MUCH DO MEMBERS CONTRIBUTE?

Contribution rate is determined by your most recent entry into the system. Members who re-enter with funds on deposit or who transfer from another contributory retirement system within Massachusetts maintain their former contribution rate.

 

Contribution Rates:

Before January 1, 1975                       5%

After January 1, 1975                         7%

After January 1, 1984                         8%

After July 1, 1996                                9%

 

**Employees hired after January 1, 1979 will pay their regular contribution rate plus an additional 2% on any compensation over $30,000.

 

WHAT IS THE INTEREST RATE CREDITED TO MY ACCOUNT?

The interest rate is statutorily set by PERAC by averaging pass book savings account rates as of January 1st of the year in question.

 

HOW IS CREDITABLE SERVICE ACHIEVED?

In general, you earn creditable service toward your retirement allowance for the period during which you made contributions to your annuity savings account in the retirement system. It is prorated based on the hours worked versus full-time.

 

WHAT EFFECT DOES TRANSFERRING HAVE ON MY CREDITABLE SERVICE AND ACCUMULATED DEDUCTIONS?

Career changes of public employees may entail a transfer from a job presently held to a new job in a different governmental unit with a different retirement system. The accumulated total deductions (or annuity savings account) and corresponding creditable service of members involved in such a change will be transferred to the new retirement system.

 

ARE ALL FORMS OF COMPENSATION FROM MY EMPLOYER SUBJECT TO RETIREMENT WITHHOLDINGS?

No, not all payments are considered regular compensation. Examples of payments not considered to be regular compensation:

  • overtime
  • commissions bonuses, other than cost of living bonuses
  • amounts derived from salary enhancements or salary augmentation plans
  • indirect, in-kind or other payments for such items as housing or lodging, travel, clothing allowances, and annuities
  • welfare benefits
  • lump sum buyouts for Workers’ Compensation
  • job-related expense payments
  • automobile usage
  • insurance premiums
  • dependent care assistance
  • one-time lump sum payments in lieu of or for unused vacation or sick leave
  • payment for termination, severance, dismissal
  • any amounts payable as premiums for working holidays (certain employees excepted)
  • early retirement incentives
  • any other payment made as a result of the employer having knowledge of the member’s retirement
  • tuition
  • payments in kind
  • all payments other than payment received by an individual from his employing unit for services rendered to such employing unit, regardless of taxability

 

WHAT IF ABSENCE IS CAUSED BY A WORK RELATED INJURY OR HAZARD?

Any member-in-service who sustains an injury or undergoes a hazard in the course of employment which results in total incapacitation for which workers’ compensation benefits are received, is awarded full creditable service during the period of absence. The member receives the creditable service without having to contribute to the retirement system.

 

WHAT ABOUT LEAVES OF ABSENCE FOR OTHER REASONS?

For absences other than work related, the member’s creditable service will be prorated.

 

CAN I BORROW MONEY FROM MY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT?

NO! Under state law, your retirement account has no provisions for withdrawal under any circumstances.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I QUIT MY JOB?

At the time of termination, you must file for a refund of your annuity savings account. You may come to the Retirement Board office or download the application form, (http://www.mass.gov/perac/forms/1003ApplicationforWithdrawal.pdf) complete and mail in.However mailed in forms must be NOTARIZED.

 

If you voluntarily terminate your public service with at least ten years of creditable service, or if you are involuntarily terminated, you will receive 100% of the regular interest that has accrued to your Annuity Savings Account.

If you voluntarily terminate your public service with less than ten years of service, you will receive interest on your Annuity Savings Account at the annual rate of 3%.

WILL I BE TAXED ON THIS REFUND?

There will be 20% deducted for federal tax if you take a direct refund of your deductions rather than directly rolling them over into another qualified retirement plan; i.e. an IRA. If you are under age 59 ½ the IRS will also impose an additional 10% penalty.

 

MAY ANY AGENCY INTERCEPT MY REFUND?

An individual’s ability to obtain a refund may be affected by a Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Order.

 

IS ANYONE INELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR A REFUND?

You may not request a refund if:

  • You continue to be a member-in-service;
  • You are on an official leave of absence;
  • You have a Workers’ Compensation claim pending or if you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits for total incapacity;
  • You have been charged with, or convicted of, misappropriation of funds or property of the governmental unit by which you were employed;
  • You are appealing a dismissal or you have otherwise expressed your intent to continue in public employment.

 

MAY I BUY BACK CREDITABLE SERVICE?

If you terminate your public service and take a refund of your accumulated total deductions and later return to public service, you may re-establish your prior creditable service by buying it back. But, you will begin as a new member, making contributions at the current rate. Of note, if a person who is a member of a retirement system as of February 16, 2012 fails to buy back certain prior service before April 2, 2013, such a member will have to pay actuarial assumed interest instead of buy back interest on the purchase. Those who re-enter or re-establish service on or after February 16, 2012 will also have until April 2, 2013 to buy back certain prior service, or they must pay actuarial assumed interest instead of buy back interest on the purchase.

WHEN MAY I COLLECT MY RETIREMENT?

If you membership began prior to April 2, 2012, you are eligible for a retirement allowance when you have at least 10 years of creditable service and are 55 years old, or if you have 20 years of service at any age. If your membership began after April 2, 2012, you are eligible with 10 years of service at age 60.

 

WHAT IS SUPERANNUATION?

“Superannuation” is the term which is used to describe the process of being retired upon reaching a certain age and meeting other requirements, such as length of service.

 

WHEN CAN I FILE FOR RETIREMENT?

You may receive retirement counseling at any time. However, retirement papers may not be accepted any sooner than 120 days before you plan to retire. You can also file for retirement up to 60 days after you leave employment. You can file after 60 days, but your benefits will not be retroactive to your termination date.

 

WHAT IS MY RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE?

Your retirement benefit is made up of 2 parts. The ANNUITY portion is based on the total amount of your annuity savings or accumulated deductions and your age on the date of your retirement. The City of Holyoke makes up the difference between the retirement benefit provided by law and what is provided by your annuity. That difference is called the PENSION.

 

                             ANNUITY + PENSION = RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE

 

WHAT FACTORS AFFECT THE AMOUNT OF MY RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE?

The amount of your retirement allowance depends on:

  • Your age;
  • Your length of service;
  • Your group classification;
  • Your salary.

 

If your membership began prior to April 2, 2012, an average of the 3 highest consecutive years of regular compensation is used in the calculation. If you became a member after April 2, 2012, an average of 5 years is used.

 

HOW IS MY BENEFIT CALCULATED?

Under the provisions of M.G.L. Chapter 32, the basic formula for calculating a superannuation retirement is:

 

Benefit Rate X Avg. of Highest 3 (or 5) Years Salary X Cred. Service = Retirement Allowance

 

WHAT IS MY BENEFIT RATE?

Your age at retirement and your group classification determine your benefit rate. The benefit rate is a specific percentage of the amount of your average annual rate of regular compensation. Click to see the percentages used in the formula which are specified in Chapter 32.

 

Benefit rate for membership prior to April 2, 2012

Benefit rate for membership after April 2, 2012

 

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

“Options” is the term used to describe how your retirement allowance is allotted. Your benefit must be paid to you in lifetime monthly payments, but the apportionment of those payments will differ depending on your option selection. Option choice also determines what benefits, if any, will be paid to survivors after a retiree’s death.

 

OPTION A

Election of Option A means that you will receive the full retirement allowance in monthly payments as long as you live. All allowance payments will cease upon your death and no benefits will be provided to your survivors.

 

OPTION B

Option B provides you with a lifetime allowance which is 1-3% less per month than Option A. The annuity portion of your allowance is reduced to allow a lump sum benefit for your beneficiary. Upon your death, your surviving beneficiary(ies) of record will be paid the unexpended balance of your annuity savings account. Although your retirement allowance is not reduced because of a depletion of your annuity savings, generally your accumulated deductions will be used up within 8 to 12 years.

 

OPTION C

Option C is also known as the joint or last survivor allowance. Selecting this option means that the allowance payments which you will receive during your lifetime will be 10-12% lower than those you would receive under Option A. Upon your death, your designated beneficiary will be paid a monthly allowance for the remainder of his or her lifetime. The allowance will be equal to 2/3 the allowance which was being paid to you at the time of your death.

 

DOES OPTION B LIMIT MY CHOICE OF BENEFICIARY?

You may designate any person(s) or charity or institution as your beneficiary. You may at any time after retirement change your Option B beneficiary.

 

WHO MAY I NAME AS BENEFICIARY UNDER OPTION C?

Eligibility is determined at the time of retirement. Only one beneficiary may be named under Option C and is limited to your spouse, your former spouse who has not remarried at the time you designated him/her as your beneficiary, your child, parent or sibling.

 

MAY I CHANGE MY OPTION C BENEFICIARY?

You may NOT change your Option C beneficiary once your retirement becomes effective.

 

WHAT IF MY OPTION C BENEFICIARY DIES BEFORE I DO?

If your Option C beneficiary dies before you do, you will thereafter be paid the full retirement allowance you would have received had you selected Option A at the time of your retirement. This conversion is commonly referred to as the Option C “Pop-Up.” All payments cease upon your death.

 

DOES DIVORCE FOLLOWING RETIREMENT ALTER THE STATUS OF MY SPOUSE AS MY OPTION C BENEFICIARY?

No, spouses who are the designated beneficiaries of Option C retirees and who become divorced from the member following the member’s retirement do not lose their eligibility as beneficiary.

 

WHEN MUST I MAKE MY OPTION SELECTION?

You must make your selection on or before the date your retirement allowance becomes effective. If you refuse or fail to select an option before the effective date, the law provides that you shall be retired under Option B.

 

WHAT ABOUT WORKING AFTER RETIREMENT?

There are no limitations if you work in the private sector. However, if you are re-employed in the service of the Commonwealth or any of its counties, cities or towns, there are 2 strict limitations on further public employment. Your earnings in the first year of retirement when added to your retirement allowance cannot be greater than the salary currently being paid for the position for which you retired. After the first year of retirement, $15,000 may be added to this figure. You cannot work more than 960 hours in a calendar year. Your employment must cease when either limitation is reached, or your retirement allowance must be waived.

Working in the Public Sector

The retirement laws limit the earnings of all retired public employees who work in the public sector after retirement The “public sector” is broadly defined as the Commonwealth and all political subdivisions, including cities, towns, authorities, and districts. This law is contained in General Laws Chapter 32, section 91

The law limits a retiree who is receiving a retirement allowance to 960 hours of employment within the public sector in any calendar year. A second limitation is the salary which can be paid for such public sector employment. When added to the retiree’s retirement allowance, the salary cannot exceed the salary that is currently being paid for the position from which the member was retired, plus $15,000, after 12 months of retirement. The law places the obligation of enforcing these restricitions upon the Treasurers of the governmental units hiring public sector retirees.

• Section 91 applies to both superannuation and disability retirees

• Section 91 applies to any public employment, regardless of whether or not it occurs with the same governmental unit from which the employee retired.

• It is irrelevant whether an employee-retiree chooses to classify him or herself as a “consultant” or “independent contractor.” The Section 91 earnings limitations will apply.

• A retiree may not avoid the limitations in Section 91 by forming a company if the primary reason for the formation is to avoid the limitations.

• Earnings for “details” which are paid by city or town payroll are included in the Section 91 limitations, regardless of whether the city or town ultimately bills a private entity for the work.

• The Section 91 limitations apply solely to retirees, not to survivors or beneficiaries.

• Earnings from elective office, jury service and emergency employment with a public entity are unrestricted.

Working in the Private Sector

A non-disability retiree can earn unlimited salary in the private sector with no impact upon the retiree’s public employmee retirement allowance. A disability retiree, however, is limited to earning the difference between the current salary for the retiree’s former position, minues the current retirement allowance, plus $5,000. General Laws Chapter 32, section 91A

 

For further information please click below:

 

Section 91 FAQs

MEMBERS SHOULD BE AWARE OF SOCIAL SECURITY’S OFFSET RULES

 

If you are entitled to both Social Security and a Massachusetts public pension your Social Security benefit may be reduced.

 

There are two rules that may reduce your Social Security benefit.  One, called the “Government Pension Offset” (GPO) applies only if you receive a government pension from a job not covered by Social Security and are eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er). This offset will reduce the amount of your Social Security spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefit by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension.  Here is an example of the GPO: if you receive a monthly pension from the Holyoke Retirement System of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefit.  If you are eligible for a Social Security spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefit of $500 monthly, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security after the offset has been applied ($500 – $400 = $100).  Depending on the amounts of the two benefits, it is entirely possible that your Social Security spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefit could be completely wiped out by GPO.

 

The second rule, called the “Windfall Elimination Provision” (WEP) affects the way your own Social Security retirement benefits are calculated when you receive your Massachusetts public pension.  This rule affects a worker who spent most of his/her career in Massachusetts public service, but who also worked at other jobs where the worker paid Social Security taxes long enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.

 

Prior to 1983, employees who spent time in jobs not covered by Social Security received the advantage of a formula under which lower-paid workers received larger benefits in relation to their earnings than higher paid workers.  Because of this formula, those who worked only part of their lives in jobs covered by Social Security had their benefits figured as if they were long-term, low-wage workers. These workers received the advantage of the higher percentage Social Security benefits in addition to their public pension.  The benefit formula was modified in 1983 to eliminate this inequity.

 

Here’s how the WEP formula works: Social Security benefits are based on the worker’s average monthly earnings adjusted for inflation. When Social Security computes your benefits, it separates your average earnings into three amounts and multiplies the figures using three factors. For example, for a worker who became 65 in 1995, the first $387 of average monthly earnings is multiplied by 90%; the next $1946 is multiplied by 32%; and the remainder by 15%.  In the modified WEP formula, the 90% factor is reduced.  For those who reached 62 or become disabled in 1990 or later, the 90% factor is reduced to 40%.

 

There are some exceptions to this rule.  For example, the 90% factor is not reduced if you have 30 or more years of “substantial” earnings where you paid Social Security taxes.  If you have 21 to 29 years of “substantial” earnings, the 90% factor is reduced to somewhere between 45 and 85 percent.  “Substantial” earnings are a certain amount of yearly earnings required for a year of coverage for this provision.

 

A guarantee is provided to protect workers with relatively low pension.  It provides that the reduction in the Social Security benefit under the modified WEP formula cannot be more than one-half of “that part of the pension attributable to earnings after 1956 not covered by Social Security.”

 

For further information please click on the following:

What Members Need to Know About Social Security

Windfall Elimination Provision

Government Pension Offset

Medicare Filing and Coverage

 

 

No one plans to die before retirement. Nevertheless, if that does happen, you can designate where the money you have been contributing to the retirement system should go. 

The Holyoke Retirement Board is providing this information to assist active members when completing the member’s Beneficiary Selection Form,  http://www.mass.gov/perac/forms/01lgBeneficiarySelection.pdf.   The public employee retirement statute, Chapter 32 of the Massachusetts General Laws, is notoriously complex, and the information contained herein is not a substitute for competent legal advice. Various sections of Chapter 32 will come into play depending upon whether a member dies as a result of an on-duty injury, or leaves a spouse and minor children. 

 

The member’s Beneficiary Selection Form instructs the Holyoke Retirement Board on the disposition of your retirement benefits in the event that you should die prior to retirement. You have the right at any time prior to retiring to change your beneficiaries. 

 

I. CHOICE OF BENEFICIARY TO RECEIVE A RETURN OF ACCUMULATED DEDUCTIONS AT MEMBER’S DEATH

 

The first part of the Beneficiary Selection form asks you to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries who, upon your death, will be entitled to receive a one-time payment of your accumulated retirement deductions which have been withheld from your compensation and credited to your account. This is paid in accordance with G.L. c. 32, § 11(2). You can name any person as your beneficiary to receive this benefit. The Board will pay the amount owed to the beneficiary or beneficiaries named on the Beneficiary Selection Form, unless another section of the retirement statute supersedes, as discussed below. This is a lump sum payment without an allowance. The Board cannot return the deceased member’s accumulated deductions to the § 11(2) beneficiary if there is an eligible beneficiary nominated under another section of the law, § 12(2)(d), or if there is an eligible spouse, or if there are minor or dependent children.

 

II. CHOICE OF OPTION D BENEFICIARY

 

The second page of the form asks you to name a § 12(2)(d) or “Option D” beneficiary. You can name only one Option D beneficiary, and it must be your spouse, child, a former spouse who has not remarried, mother, father, brother or sister. The Option D beneficiary will receive a Member Survivor Allowance for life. There would be no return of the accumulated deductions made to the § 11(2) beneficiary, because the Option D beneficiary’s rights are superior. Some members select a minor child as their Option D beneficiary in order to maximize the retirement benefit.  

III. RIGHT OF AN ELIGIBLE SPOUSE

 

Irrespective of what is stated on the Beneficiary Selection Form, if an active member dies having worked for at least two years and having been married for at least one year, and if the member and spouse were living together, the surviving spouse may elect to receive the Member Survivor Allowance provided in § 12(2)(d). The surviving spouse’s right trumps the right of any other beneficiary named by the member. Thus, a member is entitled to name a young child as the Option D beneficiary, knowing that the surviving spouse can always elect to receive the allowance instead of the child.

 

IV. COMPLETE BOTH SECTIONS OF THE BENEFICIARY SELECTION FORM

 

Members should make sure to designate both § 11(2) beneficiary or beneficiaries and a § 12(2)(d) beneficiary. If the member should die as the result of an on-duty injury, the accidental death benefit in § 9 provides that accumulated total deductions shall be paid in a lump sum to the named § 11(2) beneficiary. In addition to the lump sum payment, the Board will pay a lifetime allowance to the surviving spouse or other eligible beneficiary. Thus, accumulated deductions can be paid to one person and an allowance paid to a different person, as long as the member has designated a § 11(2) beneficiary. The member can name a spouse or other eligible beneficiary as both the § 11(2) and § 12(2)(d) beneficiary.  

 

Why Every Member Should Consider Naming An Option D Beneficiary

 

If you are killed in the line of duty, or die as a result of injuries sustained while in the performance of duties, your dependents are entitled to statutory benefits under various sections of MGL Chapter 32, the public employee retirement law. However, if your death is not job related, then Option D, or the “Member-Survivor Allowance” can provide benefits to your survivors.

 

Option D provides your named beneficiary with the monthly retirement allowance that you have received under Option C had you retired on the date of death. If you are under age 55 at death, your age will be “bumped up” to 55 to calculate the allowance. (For members joining the system after April 2, 2012, the age is 60.) The age of your beneficiary is also “bumped up” to an equal amount. If over 55 (or 60 for newer members), the calculation factor for your actual age at death is used.

 

Who can be an Option D beneficiary? Only one Option D beneficiary may be named, and only a spouse, child, former spouse who has not remarried, mother, father, brother or sister is eligible for designation. Unless trumped by a spousal election, your nominated Option D beneficiary must receive the allowance.

 

Surviving Spouses. If you do not make an Option D designation, your spouse can still elect to receive the Option D allowance, or can request a return of your accumulated retirement contributions, if

  1. You have completed at least two years of creditable service;
  2. You and your spouse have been married for at least one year; and
  3. You and your spouse have been living together at the time of your death.

 

If you and your spouse were not living together at the time of your death, the Board must find that you were living apart for justifiable cause, other than desertion or moral turpitude on the part of your spouse.

The rights of an eligible surviving spouse will always trump any other person nominated as the Option D beneficiary. The retirement board will notify your spouse of his or her right to elect Option D benefits and your spouse has 90 days from the date of this notice to elect Option D benefits. To be effective, the election must be made on a prescribed form and filed with the Board. However, if your spouse is named by you as the Option D beneficiary, your spouse MUST receive the monthly allowance, and may not choose between the allowance and a one-time lump sum return of your accumulated contributions.

 

Dependent Children. When a member-survivor Option D allowance is paid, another statute, Section 12B, provides an additional allowance to your minor children of $120 per month to the oldest child, and $90 per month to each additional child. These benefits will end upon adoption or marriage, or upon reaching age 18, or age 22 if a full-time student. Benefits to children will not end if the child is physically or mentally incapacitated from earning on the date of your death. If you have no spouse, your children can, in some circumstances, receive the benefits a spouse would have received alone with Section 12B benefits.

 

A member-survivor Option D allowance may also be available to a beneficiary of an inactive member. However, no benefit for children is available under Section 12B.

 

For further information check out PERAC’s Guide to Survivor Benefits:

 

http://www.mass.gov/perac/survivorguide/survivor3.PDF

How are my retirement benefits an issue in my divorce?

Your pension from the Holyoke Retirement System is generally considered a marital asset and, whether you are currently receiving a retirement allowance or are still actively in service, it may be subject to valuation and division in a divorce.

 

What is a domestic relations order?

A domestic relations order—commonly known as a DRO—is a judgment, decree or order (including approval of a property settlement agreement) that sets out how a person’s retirement benefits are to be allocated between parties who are in the process of divorcing or who are already divorced. The DRO must be reviewed and accepted by the Retirement Board to ensure that it complies with the General Laws and is enforceable.

The process of having a DRO accepted by the MTRS involves the following steps:

1) The parties submit the DRO to the Board.

2) The Board’s attorney reviews the DRO to be sure that it complies with the Massachusetts General Laws chapter 32) and can be implemented. If the DRO is not acceptable, the Board will notify, in writing ,the attorney submitting the DRO that revisions need to be made. If the DRO is acceptable and has been signed by the court, a standard letter is prepared accepting it as a qualified Domestic Relations Order.

3) The order is filed in the member’s file and noted on our computer system. We strongly recommend that both parties keep a copy of the order for their own files.

DROs deal primarily with retirement benefits. Because a pension is an asset that becomes payable at some future date, and involves many “unknowns,” it is necessary to address how it will be divided in a very specific document. This document usually gives to an alternate payee the right to receive part of the benefits that would be payable to a participant under the plan. The DRO may not alter the amount or form of the benefits of the plan.

 

See below for a sample Domestic Relations Order and a description of actions that the court cannot order the Board to take.

 

As a member of the Holyoke Retirement System who is now receiving or will be entitled to receive a retirement allowance, do I need to have a Domestic Relations Order as part of my divorce?

Not necessarily. Depending on your particular financial situation, you may be able to address the division of your retirement allowance in another way, such as calculating the present value of your benefits and then apportioning it along with your other assets. However, this is an issue for you to discuss with your attorney.

 

Can the Retirement Board determine the present value of my future retirement benefits?

No. We can only give information regarding current account balances. For computation of the present value of the member’s benefits, you will need to consult an actuary or other financial professional. The information that an actuary will need to assign value to your retirement allowance can be provided.

 

Can a court order the Holyoke Retirement Board to divide current or future benefits by issuing separate checks, part to the member and part to an alternate payee?

Yes. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 32, §19, payments from the Holyoke Retirement Board may be made to another person (known as an alternate payee) who is expressly provided for in the terms of any Domestic Relations Order or court decree.

 

May benefit rights be assigned or attached to satisfy a support obligation?

In certain cases, yes. The rights of members are normally exempt from execution, garnishment or other process unless a support order has been issued under M.G.L. cc. 208, 209,209A, 209C, 209D or 273. Benefit rights may be assigned or attached in connection with child support orders or alimony.

 

Are the payments made by the Holyoke Retirement Board subject to either the Retirement Equity Act or the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)?

No. Public and government plans are specifically exempt from the provisions of both those federal acts.

 

Can anyone other than the member require the Holyoke Retirement Board to disclose information contained in that member’s file, such as a beneficiary designation or the account balance?

Under the general public records law, we may not disclose to other parties the information in a member’s file unless:

  • we have a release, signed by the member, on file (we will need a release from you in order to share information with your attorney); or,
  • the information has been subpoenæd, we have notified the member of the request and given him or her the opportunity to quash the subpoena, and the subpoena has not been quashed.

 

Can a representative of the Retirement Board be called upon to testify in court?

Yes—however, most—if not all—of the information you need to compose a Domestic Relations Order can be communicated by written documentation, which we will gladly provide.

 

I am a retiree who is getting divorced. In what way can a Domestic Relations Order affect my retirement allowance?

Your retirement allowance may be apportioned, but neither the total amount nor the option you selected at the time of your retirement may be changed. If applicable, we will divide your monthly allowance according to the terms of the Court’s order or the parties’ agreement.

 

From the Retirement Board’s perspective, what issues do I need to address in structuring a Domestic Relations Order?

If we are currently paying you a retirement allowance, you need to be sure to address the percentage or amount of your retirement allowance that is to be made payable to the alternate payee. Please also refer to the following:

 

 Information for Divorce Attorneys

Overview of Issues to Address in a DRO

Unacceptable Provisions

Sample Domestic Relations Order

May 27, 2016

Retirement Board Election Results

An election was held in Holyoke City Hall’s Council Chambers on Thursday, May 26, 2016 for the purpose of electing a member of the System to serve on the Holyoke Retirement Board for a term of three (3) years, effective as of 6/1/2016 through 5/31/2019. This election was mandated by M.G.L., Chapter 306 of the Acts of 1996.

 

The election results are as follows:

 

                                                Jack McCarthy            591

                                                Jose Benvenutti           29

                                                Blanks                              1

                                               

                                                Total Votes                 621

 

Thank you for your interest and participation.

Department Head

Cheryl Dugre

Cheryl Dugre

Executive Director

Office Address

20 Korean Veterans Plaza, Room 207
Holyoke, MA 01040 Map

Contact Info

Main Office

413-322-5590

413-322-5591 (fax)

cdugre@ret.holyoke.ma.us

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:30 pm

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Posted on December 10, 2012 by