Secure your future

Like it or ‘lump’ it!

You may have the choice of removing funds — and reducing your pension — at retirement

VARIABLE ANNUITY
The unit value is computed during the latter part of each month. Recent values are:
  VARIABLE
  A B
December 55.541 19.392
January 55.630 19.382
February 58.119 19.470

 

PENSION CLINICS

The UFT’s popular pension clinics — a mini-course in pensions and related retirement matters — have been scheduled for the 2011-2012 school year in all the boroughs.

We urge all members to participate in these clinics two or three years before retirement. The clinics are only one part of the UFT’s many services devoted to helping members prepare for a financially secure retirement.

This year the Pension Department will hold clinics in Brooklyn and Staten Island in the fall, in Manhattan in the winter and in the Bronx and Queens in the spring. 

To be fully informed, Tier I/II members should attend all of the three-part series, and Tiers III/IV the two-part series.

4:15-6:15 p.m.

Spring 2012

Tiers III/IV

Friday, May 4
Friday, May 11

will take place at the

Bronx UFT Office
2500 Halsey St.
and
PS 139, Queens
93-06 63rd Drive
Rego Park

Last issue, we reviewed an irrevocable retirement choice — do you want to take the maximum retirement allowance or choose an option that will provide for your beneficiaries or dependents after you’re gone?

This issue, we hope you will begin thinking about another irrevocable choice you must make at retirement: Should you take, if available, a lump sum withdrawal of some of the funds in your Qualified Pension Plan (or basic pension plan) before retirement?

At retirement, you have to decide whether or not to remove some of the funds in your Teachers’ Retirement System accounts from the retirement system.

The Annuity Savings Fund for Tier I and II members and the Member Contribution Accumulation Fund for Tier IV members are the accounts from which you can withdraw funds.

Money withdrawn as a lump sum at retirement will result in a lifetime of lower income from the pension fund. However, you will have a lump sum of money that you can spend or that you can use to reinvest and earn income.

The UFT, at your final pension consultation, will inform you of how much your retirement allowance will be reduced per year for each $1,000 you remove.

You can then weigh the benefit to you of having the lump sum of money in comparison to the higher lifetime retirement allowance.

You should also consider the tax consequences of your action. Money withdrawn from the TRS as a lump sum will be subjected to federal income tax unless it is rolled over into an IRA account.

The method of withdrawal of the lump sum is a removal of excess funds (Tiers I/II) and/or taking a “loan” at retirement (for all tiers).

This “loan” may be for up to 75 percent of the money in the Annuity Savings Fund or Member Contribution Accumulation Fund.

The “loan” is deducted immediately from your account at retirement and the result is you will have the lump sum value of the “loan” to do whatever you want with, and a permanently reduced retirement allowance that you will know the exact amount of.

This decision should be made only after careful consideration since it is irrevocable. We remind you that unless the money is rolled over into an IRA account, the lump sum is subject to federal taxes.

Do you have any unclaimed funds?

Many members have unclaimed funds from such sources as the Teachers’ Retirement System, old bank accounts, uncashed checks, utility deposits and others. The TRS as well as state governments hold these unclaimed funds and want to return them to the rightful owners.

The TRS is in possession of many outstanding unclaimed checks. These outstanding checks include pension checks as well as checks issued more than 90 days ago for the following reasons:

  • Qualified Pension Plan and Tax-Deferred Annuity loans;
  • QPP and TDA refunds of contributions or loan deductions;
  • QPP resignation or excess withdrawals;
  • TDA withdrawals;
  • QPP and TDA lump-sum death benefits.

To see if your name or that of a person you know is on the list, go to the TRS website — www.trsnyc.org — and click on the Unclaimed Funds tab that appears on the left. The website tells you what TRS forms are needed to file a claim. The listing goes back to September 2000.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, more than $32 billion in unclaimed funds is being safeguarded by state treasuries and other agencies. Some of this money may be yours!

To begin the search for any funds you may be entitled to, log on to www.naupa.org. This website will let you reach any state’s site for a free governmental search for unclaimed funds.

There are several business firms that search the state lists and then contact individuals on them and say they will help collect the unclaimed funds for a fee. You may pay them to search if you wish, but all of the information is accessible free of charge by accessing the state databases directly or through the Unclaimed Property Administrators.

The agency’s website also has a listing of other sources for unclaimed property. Among those sources are the federal government and sites for the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, as well as international venues.

As an aside, in preparation for this article, one of the authors of this column — UFT Treasurer Mel Aaronson — searched the New York State database and found that he had unclaimed funds available.

Good luck in your search!

Some good advice from the TRS

We all know that we get credit toward our retirement benefits when we make mandatory contributions to the Qualified Pension Plan while we are employed.

But some of us do not know that we can purchase credit for other service, including service rendered in public employment in New York State, done prior to our membership in the TRS. Such purchase is optional, but usually advisable. The TRS has a brochure on the topic, “Service Credit for Tier III/IV Members.”

Prior Service Credit can be purchased by applying online on the TRS website or by submitting a Cost Letter Request Form (SB64). The more credit you have at retirement, the higher your retirement allowance will be.

You should make this application early in your career because it may take some time to calculate the cost and for you to pay for the credit. Also, the earlier you purchase your prior service, the less interest you pay. So don’t leave this to the end of your career!

Read more: Secure your future
Related topics: benefits, pension
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