Throughout your retirement, we will administer your benefits and provide you with information and services. You also need to contact us when certain events occur.

During your retirement, WE will…

Provide you with information regarding your retirement benefits and our services 
We will gladly answer your questions on your MTRS benefits regarding your retirement and keep you up to date on relevant issues, such as pending benefits and our services, legislationBoard elections and cost-of-living adjustments by way of our newsletters and special mailings.

Process and pay your monthly retirement allowance  
Every month, we will issue your benefit payment pursuant to your instructions (mailed check or direct deposit to your bank account). Every January, we will provide you with the payment schedule for the coming calendar year. In the event your check is stolen, we will issue a replacement.

Maintain an accurate record of your personal, financial and beneficiary information as a retiree  
To ensure accurate processing of your benefits, we will maintain a record that includes your name, address, Social Security number, date of retirement, option retired under, payment method, beneficiary designation and, if any, the amounts you are having withheld for group health insurance or tax withholding.

By January 31 of each year, provide you with a Form 1099-R for tax purposes
Your Form 1099-R will indicate the total amount of your retirement benefits for the previous calendar year; the amount withheld by the MTRS for federal income taxes, if any; and, the amount, if any, withheld for your group health insurance premiums. We will also provide this information to the IRS.

Periodically, verify your eligibility to receive a retirement allowance  
As part of our fiduciary responsibility to the Commonwealth’s pension system, we will contact you to confirm that you are, indeed, still living and eligible to receive your allowance.

In the event of your death, pay a survivor benefit, if any, pursuant to the retirement option you selected  
Depending on the option you selected (A, B, or C), we will pay a survivor benefit, if any. Be assured that we will work to process the survivor benefit as sensitively and expeditiously as possible.

During your retirement, YOU need to contact us if and when you…

Change your name, address (temporary or permanent) or Social Security number 
For your protection, we instruct the post office not to forward many of the documents we send to retirees (these often contain confidential benefit and tax information). Accordingly, it is very important that you send us written notification of changes to your personal data so that you are sure to receive our mailings.

Lose your retirement check 
In the event of loss or theft, notify us in writing no earlier than one week after the mailing date to request that we issue a replacement check. We will place a stop-payment order on the check and issue a replacement, usually within five to ten days after we receive your written notification.

Need verification of your benefit payment

During your retirement, you may need to provide verification of your MTRS benefit amount to a third party, for example, when applying for a loan, a rent or mortgage rebate, or nursing home or public housing. If you are requesting verification for Social Security purposes, please be sure to tell the MTRS representative this, as we will need to include additional information in your letter.

Want to change your:

  • withholding for federal taxes
    Each year at tax time, review your Form 1099–R so that you know what you are paying in federal taxes. To change the amount being withheld, send us a note indicating the desired change and effective date or request and submit a new Form W-4P.
  • beneficiary (Option A and B retirees and survivor benefit recipients only)
    Be aware of the status of your beneficiary. If you retired under Option A or B, you may change your designation at any time by submitting a new beneficiary designation form; if your designee predeceases you, you may also name a new designee. If you retired under Option C and your beneficiary predeceases you, please notify the MTRS because your benefit will “pop up” to the Option A amount, and you may then name a designee to receive any benefits payable in the month of your death.
  • payment method
    If you retired prior to July 1, 2009 and are still receiving your monthly benefit via mailed check, we encourage you to switch to direct deposit.

Want to participate in the governance of the MTRS

Approximately three months before our Board elections (held every four years), we notify active and retired members of the upcoming nomination and election process.

Become re-employed by a Massachusetts public employer and exceed the time and earnings limitations

If you want to work beyond the time and earnings limitations, you must notify the MTRS in writing that you wish to waive your retirement allowance for the period of employment. Your allowance will be suspended until you notify us that it should be reinstated.

Become divorced and your retirement allowance is divided

If applicable, the MTRS will pay your monthly allowance per the terms of a court order or the parties’ domestic relations order.

In the event of your death, your beneficiary should contact us regarding any survivor benefits

Advise your current beneficiary now that he or she should contact us in the event of your death. Be sure to keep your retirement papers with your other important documents.

If you are receiving a monthly benefit payment from us, please complete a Change of Address Form–Retired member, or if you do not have access to a printer, contact us and we will mail you a form.

It is vitally important that you keep us informed of any change in your address, whether temporary or permanent: your retirement allowance checks and direct deposit statements will not be forwarded. We will also be sending you financial documents and other forms (1099-R tax form, verification of eligibility) throughout your retirement. Please note:

  • Please send us notification of any change in your address at least 30 days before the effective date of the change; any changes we receive after the 15th of the month will not be reflected until the following month.
  • For your protection, we cannot accept address changes over the phone but we will accept changes via fax. You will, however, still need to send us the original form with your original signature.
  • If, from year to year, you regularly reside at your temporary address (for example, every year you spend winters at your current address and summers at your temporary address), you still need to notify us every year of the dates that you will be at each address.

Q&A: Naming a designee to receive payments that are due upon your death, if any

Who may name this type of designee, and what will the designee receive?

You may name this type of designee if you are currently receiving a benefit as an:

  • Option A retiree or survivor of an MTRS member, your designee will receive the lump-sum payment of any benefits that you earn in the month of your death and that have not been issued to you.
  • Option B retiree, your designee will receive: the lump-sum payment of the remainder of your annuity savings account, if any, upon your death; and, any benefits that you earn in the month of your death and that have not been issued to you.

What are “benefits due in the month of my death”?

Retirement and survivor benefits are paid for time already accrued. In other words, the allowance that you receive at the end of January is the payment for January. If you, the benefit recipient, pass away before the end of the month and:

  • we are able to stop that month’s check/direct deposit from being mailed or deposited, we will then calculate the amount of benefits that you earned for that month—in other words, benefits for the days in that month that you were alive—and then pay that lump-sum amount to your primary designee(s) according to the percentage(s) listed.
  • we are not able to stop that month’s check/direct deposit from being mailed or deposited, we will then calculate the amount of benefits that were overpaid to you for that month—in other words, benefits paid for any days in that month after your death—and will recover the overpayment from your estate. In this event, no month-of-death payment will be due to your designee(s).

If I…

  • retired under Option A, and was not asked to name a beneficiary because my monthly benefits cease upon my death.

  • retired under Option B many years ago and the person I designated as my beneficiary has since passed away. I understand that my annuity savings account balance has long been “spent down,” and there will be no lump-sum survivor benefit payment due upon my death.

  • receive a monthly survivor benefit and was not asked to name a beneficiary because my monthly benefits cease upon my death.

Why should I name a designee now?

As explained above, retirement payments are made at the end of each month for that month; the portion of your monthly payment that you earn in the month of your death (the “pro-rata amount”) is payable to your estate. Some survivors may choose not to go through the paperwork and potential expense of obtaining a taxpayer identification number, establishing a bank account for the estate and probating the estate, in order to collect the retiree’s final benefit payment. However, if you designate someone to receive the “pro-rata amount” due in the month of your death, we can issue payment directly to your designee rather than your estate.

Can I change my designation at any time?

Yes—your current designation will remain in effect unless and until you file a new Beneficiary Designation Form for Retirees and Survivors with the MTRS, which you may do at any time. Your new form will then supersede any previous designation.

Note: Do NOT use this form if you are an…

  • active member (instead, see Survivor benefits for active members) or
  • Option C retiree. At the time of your retirement, you designated your Option C beneficiary, and your Option C beneficiary cannot be changed. If your Option C beneficiary predeceases you, you may not name a new Option C beneficiary; your monthly benefit will “pop up” to the Option A benefit amount that you would have received on the date of your retirement, plus any cost-of-living adjustments. If your Option C beneficiary has predeceased you, please submit our Report of death of Option C beneficiary form, along with a photocopy of the death certificate or notify us as soon as possible so that we may adjust your benefits.

After the death of one of our benefit recipients, the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS) makes its best effort to identify and reach out to that person’s survivors and/or estate to pay any remaining benefits that may be due. At times, however, these funds are not paid out either because we are unable to reach the survivors and/or estates, or because our office may not be contacted by them. To help the MTRS process these cases, we list the names of our benefit recipients with unclaimed funds here, in the hope that their survivors and/or estates will contact us to claim any funds that may be due.

If you are:

  • the executor or executrix, or
  • the survivor or beneficiary of a deceased MTRS member or benefit recipient,

and neither you nor the member’s estate has received a “final payment” of the deceased member’s retirement benefit, the MTRS may have unclaimed funds on account for you.

If you believe that the member’s estate or you may have unclaimed funds, please:

  1. REVIEW the list linked below to see if the deceased member’s name appears.
  2. If you find the deceased member’s name, please COMPLETE our Application for unclaimed funds and return it to our main office, as indicated on the form. You must send us a completed form in order to make a claim for funds; because we need documentation of your eligibility to receive any funds, we cannot process a claim over the phone

If an accident or illness leaves you unable to make decisions, a trusted designee may transact your affairs

A power of attorney (POA) is a written document in which you (the “principal”) authorize a trusted individual whom you select (your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) to act on your behalf. There are several types of POA:

  • Limited POA: This gives someone the authority to act on your behalf in specific situations or for limited time periods.
  • General POA: This grants someone the authority to conduct all affairs on your behalf.
  • Durable POA: This authorization remains effective even if you should become disabled or incapacitated, and can provide one of the most important benefits of a POA. If the POA is not durable, it will automatically be revoked when you become disabled—and if you become disabled or incapacitated, that is just when you need the assurance that another can act on your behalf.
  • “Springing” or “springing durable” POA: This type of appointment only “springs” into being or becomes effective when needed, at some future date or upon some future occurrence, usually when you become incapacitated.

The laws pertaining to POAs may differ in different states. In Massachusetts, as provided under the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, a durable POA:

  • Can be general or specific. In a specific durable POA, the agent is authorized to act only in certain capacities, which the POA document must describe in detail. A general durable POA grants broader powers to the agent, allowing him or her to act in a variety of matters, from financial decisions to health care, or to complete your biennnial MTRS Benefit Verification Form.
  • Can take effect immediately on signing by the principal (known as a “present” power of attorney) or at a later time. A document that becomes effective only when needed, for example, if and when the principal suffers an incapacitating illness or injury, is known as a “springing durable” POA.
  • Should be signed in the presence of a Notary Public and must contain the phrase “This power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal, or lapse of time,” or similar language indicating that in the event of disability, the authority granted in the document remains valid. A durable POA may contain an expiration date, beyond which it lapses. It also may be revoked as long as the principal is not incapacitated. If the principal is incapacitated, a legal guardian would have the power to revoke the document. The POA is at all times answerable to a court-appointed legal guardian or fiduciary.

If you do not have a valid, durable power of attorney in place and you become incapacitated, the Massachusetts Probate Court will have legal authority over your affairs. The court will appoint a guardian to make decisions, sign documents and handle your health, business and family decisions, and take charge of your property and assets. A court-appointed guardianship means additional expense and legal complications for you and your family, as well as uncertainty over the outcome of any probate matters.

When choosing someone as your attorney-in-fact, however, be sure to select someone who is responsible and trustworthy, and consult your attorney regarding the different ways you can limit your POA document to protect yourself. To revoke your POA, notify your attorney-in-fact in writing, and ask them to return any copies of your POA document to you. You should also notify any others that may have received the document, including the MTRS, in writing, that you have revoked your POA.

As the MTRS cannot provide you with legal advice, please consult a lawyer for more information.