Retirement Options

Overview

Retirement Options

When you file your retirement application, you must elect one of five retirement “options.” Each option will affect your retirement benefit amount differently, but in all cases your benefit will be paid throughout your lifetime. The survivor benefits available to your eligible beneficiary(ies) may also be impacted by your election. Upon receipt of your first benefit payment, your retirement option becomes irrevocable, so consider your choices carefully. For assistance in better understanding the retirement options listed below, please contact VCERA.

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Unmodified Option

The Unmodified Option pays you the highest monthly retirement benefit with the provision that 60% of the benefit continues after your death to an eligible beneficiary, such as a surviving spouse. To be eligible for a monthly continuance, your surviving spouse must have been:

  • Married to you for one year prior to your retirement date, or
  • Age 55 or older and married to you for two years prior to your date of death
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Option 1

This option pays you a slightly reduced retirement benefit with the provision that your accumulated contributions, less the sum of the monthly annuity payments received by you, will be paid to your beneficiary as a lump sum upon your death. In other words, if at your death there are any remaining retirement contributions that have not been “paid out” to you as monthly benefit payments, the remaining funds would be paid to your designated beneficiary. However, your VCERA benefit is still payable for life, regardless of your contribution balance.

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Option 2

This option pays you a reduced retirement benefit with the provision that up to 100% of the benefit continues after your death to your spouse or beneficiary, who must have an insurable interest in your life. The amount of your retirement benefit is directly affected by the age of your beneficiary: the younger your beneficiary, the greater the benefit reduction because of their longer actuarial life expectancy. The 100% continuance is payable only to the beneficiary you name at retirement and may not be changed later, even if the beneficiary pre-deceases you.

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Option 3

This option pays you a reduced retirement benefit with the provision that 50% of the benefit continues after your death to your beneficiary, who must have an insurable interest in your life. The amount of your retirement benefit is directly affected by the age of your beneficiary: the younger your beneficiary, the greater the benefit reduction because of their longer actuarial life expectancy. The 50% continuance is payable only to the beneficiary you name at retirement and may not be changed later, even if the beneficiary pre-deceases you.

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Option 4

This option is similar to Option 2 but provides for multiple beneficiaries. Option 4 pays you a reduced retirement benefit with the provision that up to 100% of the benefit continues after your death to your surviving beneficiaries, who must have an insurable interest in your life. At retirement, you specify the percentage each beneficiary will receive upon your death. The amount of your retirement benefit payable will depend on the age of your youngest beneficiary. The 100% continuance is payable only to the beneficiaries you name at retirement and may not be changed later, even if they pre-deceases you.

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Level Income Option

The Level Income Option is a voluntary program administered by VCERA and unrelated to the retirement options listed above. This option offers you a short-term “pension advance” in which VCERA pays an increased monthly retirement benefit until you reach age 62. At that time, VCERA reduces your monthly benefit by an amount that has an actuarially equivalent value. However, if you file for Social Security at age 62, your adjusted VCERA benefit plus your Social Security benefit should represent a “level” income throughout your retirement.