As an active member of the MTRS who is making regular payroll contributions or who is on an authorized leave of absence, you provide a survivor benefit as described below in the event that you die while you are still in active service. Survivors of inactive members are subject to different rules.
There are two types of survivor benefits: a lump-sum payment and a monthly, member-survivor benefit.
If I should die while I am an active member, what benefits will my survivors be entitled to?
The type of benefit that survivors receive depends upon their relationship to you as well as what type of beneficiary you specified and who you named as a beneficiary on your MTRS Beneficiary Designation Form.
- A lump-sum beneficiary will receive your accumulated contributions and interest in a single, lump-sum amount. There are no restrictions on who may be a lump-sum beneficiary and you may name more than one person or entity, designating the percentage of the benefit that each is to receive. You may also name contingent beneficiaries who will be paid in the event that the primary lump-sum beneficiary is not alive at the time of your death.
- A member-survivor beneficiary will receive a monthly allowance instead of a lump-sum payment. A member-survivor beneficiary must be your parent, sibling, child, spouse or former spouse who has not remarried. You may designate only one member-survivor beneficiary.
Pursuant to Massachusetts law, however, your surviving spouse and/or the guardian of your dependent children may have a superior legal right to any benefits awarded as a result of your death. This means that, regardless of who you named as a beneficiary, if you are survived by a spouse and/or dependent children, and your spouse and/or dependent children meet certain requirements, your spouse and/or the guardian of your dependent children may elect to receive the monthly member-survivor benefit.
How do I know who the MTRS has on record as my beneficiary?
There are two ways. First, as an active member, you will receive an annual statement of your annuity savings account which shows your account balance as well as the name(s) of your beneficiary(ies). Second, you can always send us a written request for this information and we will respond in writing. Unfortunately, we cannot provide this information over the phone.
Can I change my beneficiary designation?
Yes—you can change your designation as often as you wish and at any time during your active service. However, such changes must be submitted on our Beneficiary designation form–Active member in order to take effect.
If I am survived by my spouse, is he or she entitled to any guaranteed benefit?
Yes—if your spouse is named as the member-survivor beneficiary, he or she will be entitled to either the member-survivor monthly benefit, or, if he or she meets the eligibility requirements below, a guaranteed minimum payment, whichever is greater.
For your spouse to qualify for the guaranteed minimum payment (currently, $500 per month) as well as an additional set allowance for dependent children (currently, $120 per month for the first child and $90 for additional child):
- your spouse must have been living with you at the time of your death or living apart for justifiable cause and
- your spouse must have been married to you for at least one year and
- you must have been a member in service at the time of your death and
- you must have completed at least two full years of creditable service.
If there is no surviving spouse, the guardian of the surviving dependent children may be entitled to the monthly member-survivor benefits.
What does my beneficiary need to do to claim his or her benefits?
Your beneficiary should contact our office and speak to one of our Member Services representatives. Based on the type of beneficiary you have designated, we will then send your beneficiary the appropriate application; he or she must then complete this application and submit it, along with the required documents, to us for processing. If applicable, we may require that your beneficiary submit a copy of your marriage certificate, military discharge record (DD214) and/or certified birth records for you, your spouse and your dependent children. We will then let your beneficiary know what the next steps are and whether we need any additional documentation.
Member-survivor benefit allowance: Formula and example
The amount of the member-survivor benefit is equal to the amount that the member would have received under Option C if he or she had retired at either:
- his or her last age, or
- if his or her Membership Tier is:
- Tier 1 (established membership before April 2, 2012), age 55,
- Tier 2 (established membership on or after April 2, 2012), age 60
whichever age is higher. In other words, for the purpose of calculating the member-survivor benefit, the member’s age is advanced the number of years and months needed to reach age 55 for Tier 1 members (members who established membership before April 2, 2012) or age 60 for Tier 2 members (members who established membership on or after April 2, 2012); the age of the beneficiary is also advanced the same number of years and months.
The example illustrates the calculations for the survivor of a Tier 1 member who died at age 42 with 20 years of creditable service, an average salary of $42,000 for the last three consecutive years, and a beneficiary who is age 40. Note that even though the member was 13 years younger than age 55, the Option A Age Factor for age 55 is used. Because the member’s age was advanced by 13 years, the beneficiary’s age was also advanced by 13 years (to age 53) in determining the Option C Factor.
Option A Allowance
Option A Age Factor (Tier 1 member, age 55)
× Years of creditable service
% of salary average
+ RetirementPlus percentage, if applicable
Member did not have 30 years of creditable service, and therefore the survivor is not eligible for any additional RetirementPlus percentage.
Allowable % of salary average
“Allowable % of salary average” may not exceed 80%.
× 3-year salary average
Option A annual allowance
Note: If the member was a wartime veteran, $15 for each year of teaching service (up to a maximum of $300) is added to the Option A annual allowance.
× Option C Factor
Member’s age advanced to 13 years, to age 55; beneficiary’s age also advanced 13 years, to age 53 (see Option C factor table )
Option C annual allowance/ Annual member-survivor benefit
÷ 12 months/year
Monthly member-survivor benefit $976