Retirement Board FAQ

Retirement Board FAQs

Can I purchase creditable service earned in another Massachusetts public retirement system?
If you were a member of another retirement system subject to the provisions of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 32 and you withdrew your retirement funds, it is possible to buy back your prior creditable service. The Retirement Office will verify your prior service, then calculate the amount of your buyback. You must repay the amount withdrawn, plus interest, to the date of repayment. You may complete a buyback as a lump-sum payment, pre-tax rollover, or through payroll deduction over a five-year period.
Do member's contributions to the Retirement System earn interest?
Your contributions are placed in an individual annuity savings fund, which earns annual interest at a rate comparable to that of a passbook savings account. The interest rate is determined by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission and the Commissioner of Banks. This annual interest rate is independent of that earned on the Retirement System's investments.
Does the amount of interest credited to your individual annuity savings fund affect overall retirement benefits?
No. The amount of money in your annuity account has no bearing on your future allowance. This is determined by a formula consisting only of your age, service, and three-year salary average.
How is my membership date determined?
For most employees, the date you were hired will be your membership date. (Technically, it's the date you first began making contributions from your regular compensation into the retirement system. If you have a period of employment in which you did not make retirement contributions, you may want to contact the Retirement Office to inquire about purchasing your prior employment as creditable service).
How much do members contribute to the Retirement System?
The amount each employee is required to contribute to the retirement system each year is set by statute. If you began employment on or after July 1, 1996, you must contribute nine percent of your regular compensation to the Retirement System. If you were hired any time between January 1, 1984 and July 1, 1996 your contribution rate is set at eight percent. Members who joined the system any time between 1975 and 1983 contribute seven percent. Those employees who became members prior to 1975 are contributing five percent. The law also mandates that for members whose employment commenced on or after January 1, 1979, an additional two percent of regular compensation will be withheld on compensation over $30,000. This two percent is in addition to the seven, eight, or nine percent that is already being deducted from total regular compensation.
Is membership mandatory for Greenfield employees?

Yes. Membership in the Greenfield Retirement System is required by law for all regularly employees who work at least 20 hours a week and earn over $5,000 per year. This applies to employees regularly working for the following units: city of Greenfield, Greenfield Public School System, Greenfield Housing Authority, and the Franklin County Technical School.

Is regular compensation the same as total compensation?

No. Regular compensation is the portion of your salary that is subject to retirement contributions. Over time, bonus pay, severance pay, any payments made for unused sick time, and several other payments, are not considered regular compensation, are not subject to retirement and cannot be used towards your three-year average for the purpose of determining your retirement allowance.

What is the retirement allowance based on? How is it calculated?

Because the Greenfield Retirement Plan is a defined benefit plan, your benefits are determined by a formula and are not affected by the amount of money in your annuity account at the time of retirement. The factors used to determine your benefit are: your age at the time of retirement, your amount of creditable service, your group classification, and an average of your three highest years of regular compensation.

When is retirement an option?

You are eligible to retire once you are 55 years old with at least 10 years of creditable service or at an age with 20 years of creditable service with a membership date prior to April 1, 2012. Employees who became members on or after April 2, 2012 can retire once they are 60 years old with at least 15 years of creditable service or at any age with 20 years of creditable service.

Will prior creditable service affect my membership date or contribution rate in the Retirement System?

If you have retirement contributions from a previous retirement system still on account, those contributions can be transferred directly to our system and you will be entitled to maintain the same level of contributions you were paying in your previous employment. Under current regulations, if you refunded those contributions, you will become a new member of the Greenfield Retirement System and therefore; you will be subject to the new member contribution rate of 9%, plus 2% on earnings over $30,000. Once a member of the Greenfield Retirement System – you could then enquire about purchasing the previously refunded creditable service through a buyback.