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Check back often for announcements and updates regarding retirement law changes, benefit adjustments and other information that affect members, retirees, and beneficiaries.

Elected Member 2015

Please be advised that as a result of the election count held in the Esther Howland Chamber, Worcester, MA on Monday, December 15, 2014, John F. Mahan was re-elected as a member of the Worcester Retirement Board for a term which will commence on January 1, 2015 and expire on December 31, 2017.

Retiree Health Coverage - Potential Changes

H59 Marks Largest Issue of 2013

The Joint Committee on Public Service has announced that on October 31, 2013 it will hold the long awaited public hearing on H59, Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to reform retiree healthcare benefits. A public hearing will mark the first step in the legislative process for the 2013-2014 session, which runs until January 2015.

What is H59?

H59 is legislation filed in February 2013 by Governor Deval Patrick. The bill, which reflects the report of the 2012 Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare Reform, would make significant changes to the healthcare benefits offered to future public retirees at both the state and local levels. H59 grandfathers existing retirees and survivors under the current law, as well as grants additional protections. Active employees, who are close to retirement age, are largely held harmless from the reforms. Who among active workers might be impacted if and when the proposal becomes law remains an open question.

How Does H59 Protect Current Retirees and Survivors?

  • Grandfathers existing retirees under current law in terms of insurance eligibility.
  • Current retirees and survivors NOT subject to prorating of contribution rate.
  • Creates new law that protects retirees from increases in their insurance contribution rate percentage. This mirrors the state policy of only increasing the percentage rates of future retirees.
  • Requires all cities and towns to cover at least 50% of surviving spouse insurance premium. Currently some 60 communities require survivors to contribute 100% of the premium.

What Changes are Being Considered for Future Retirees?

  • Future retirees required to have 20 years of creditable service to qualify for retiree insurance benefits.
  • 50% contribution at 20 years of service.
  • Prorated contribution for those with 20-30 years of service.
  • Maximum available contribution paid for those with 30+ years of service.
  • Place a time limit on the application of benefits for deferred retirees.

Who is Exempt from the Current Proposal Under H59?

  • Current retirees and survivors.
  • Employees with 20 years of service AND are within 5 years of the retirement age for their group (i.e. 50 for groups 1 & 2 and 40 for group 4).
  • Employees age 60+ who have at least 9 years of service.

Pension Reform Update

Chapter 188 of the Acts of 2010 - The Municipal Relief Act

Effective July 27, 2010; had several sections that amended Chapter 32:

  • Extended full pension funding to 2040.
  • Provides a Local Option to increase the Cost of Living Base.
  • Provided a three year Early Retirement Incentive.

Chapter 131 of the Acts of 2010 - State Budget Act

Effective July 1, 2010; had several sections that amended Chapter 32:

  • Capped pensionable compensation for new members after January 1, 2011 at 64% of Federal limit (indexed annually). Federal limit is currently $245,000. 64% of that would limit new employees to $156,800 of pensionable earnings.
  • Set increase rate at 3% on voluntary member refunds with fewer than 10 years service.
  • Allowed Local Option to increase §101 widows benefit to $9,000.
  • Allowed employers to prorate health insurance of retirees after January 1, 2011 among their prior MA Public Employers.

Chapter 21 of the Acts of 2009

Effective July 1, 2009:

  • Eliminated Termination Allowances for Elected Officials.
  • Eliminated one day in office for one year service for Elected Officials.
  • Required Elected Officials to serve 10 years to vest (previously 6 years).
  • Elected Officials earning less than $5,000 no longer earned creditable service.
  • Redefined pensionable compensation.
  • Changed pension calculation for Dual Members.
  • Changed the Disability Calculation for members working out of grade.

Veterans' Creditable Service

Recently, the definition of "veteran" was changed for purposes of allowing active members to purchase military service in conjunction with retirement benefits under M.G.L. Chapter 32. This change has now become effective.

Please review the revised Veteran's Creditable Service form (99KB) to determine if you may be now eligible to purchase military service. If you have questions, please contact the Worcester Retirement System.

“Spousal Benefit” Reinstated on Limited Basis

By recent action, the Massachusetts Legislature has re-instated benefits formerly available through the so-called "spousal benefit" provision. M.G.L. Chapter 32, Section 5(1)(e). The spousal benefit had permitted an otherwise eligible public employee, whose spouse had previously retired from public service, to retire with his/her superannuating retirement allowance calculated at age 55, regardless of whether he or she was under age 55 as of the retirement date. The spousal benefit was repealed as of November 1, 2003.

In order for a retirement system member to now utilize the benefits of the "spousal benefit" under the Legislature's action the following criteria must be met:

  1. two spouses married to each other must both be members of the same or different retirement systems;
  2. each of the spouses were members in service of a retirement system on or before November 1 2003; and,
  3. one of the two member spouses is retired under the provisions of M.G.L Chapter 32, Sections 1 to 28.

If the preceding requirements are met, then the second member, upon his or her written application to a retirement board, shall be retired for superannuation regardless of his/her age. Under the legislation, the retirement of the second member spouse must occur on a date subsequent to, but not more than, four months after the date of filing a retirement application.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Worcester Retirement office.

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