Payment Options
At the time you started your pension, you had the option to take a reduced monthly pension in order to provide continuing income to either a spouse or to a named beneficiary (or "joint pensioner") in the event you died before your spouse/joint pensioner. Elections for a joint payment option were made on the Application for Retirement. The following describes the current joint payment options; the provisions may have been different at the time you retired.
Married Employees
50% Marital Pension
If you were married at the time you retired or at the time you began receiving payments from the Retirement Plan, federal law required that payment be made as a "50% marital pension" unless you and your spouse elected otherwise on the Application for Retirement or the Pension Elections Form. A marital pension provides a monthly benefit for your life and continued payments to your spouse equal to one-half of your pension amount if you die before your spouse. In the event of your death, the monthly benefit continues to be payable to your spouse for his or her lifetime.
Under a marital pension, your pension benefit was calculated according to the Retirement Plan formula and then reduced by an actuarial factor. This reduction is necessary because payments are guaranteed for two people and are likely to be paid for a longer period of time. The amount of the reduction was determined by an actuarial factor based on your age and the age of your spouse on your pension commencement date.
Other Joint Pensions
Instead of a 50% marital pension, you had the option to elect a joint pension with your spouse of either more (75% or 100%) or less (25%). However, if you elected continued payments of less than 50% for your spouse, both you and your spouse were required to sign the Application for Retirement, and your spouse's signature must have been witnessed by a Notary Public. Like the 50% marital pension, your pension benefit was calculated according to the Retirement Plan formula and then reduced based on the applicable actuarial factor.
Special Joint Pension ("Pop-Up")
If you retired after 1990, you also had the option to elect a "special joint pension" which allowed your reduced monthly pension to increase or "pop up" to the full amount, as if you had never elected a joint pension, if your joint pensioner dies before you. However, your basic monthly pension benefit amount was further reduced to reflect this additional benefit.
Unreduced Pension
Alternatively, you may have elected to receive your pension in an unreduced amount and not provide any payments to your spouse after your death. This is allowed as long as your spouse consented in writing to this election. If you chose to provide no continuing pension for your spouse, both you and your spouse signed the Application for Retirement, and your spouse's signature was witnessed by a Notary Public.
Non-Spouse Joint Pension
As a married employee, you also had the option to designate anyone other than your spouse as your "joint pensioner." If you elected this option, both you and your spouse signed the Application for Retirement, and your spouse's signature was witnessed by a Notary Public.
Your own pension benefit was reduced so that up to 100% of this reduced amount would continue to your joint pensioner in the event of your death. The amount your pension was reduced depended on your age and the age of your joint pensioner, as well as the percentage of your pension benefit that you elected to be continued to your joint pensioner.
Unmarried Employees
If you were unmarried at the time you retire or at the time you began receiving payments from the Retirement Plan, you automatically received the full amount of your pension, with no provision for continuing payments to a survivor, unless you elected otherwise in writing.
Non-Spouse Joint Pension
If you were unmarried and wanted to provide a continuing pension to someone in the event of your death, you elected a "joint pension." You had the ability to designate anyone as your "joint pensioner." Your own pension benefit was reduced so that up to 100% of this reduced amount can be continued to your joint pensioner in the event of your death. The amount your pension was reduced depended on your age and the age of your joint pensioner as of your retirement date, as well as the percentage of your pension benefit that you elected to be continued to your joint pensioner.
Special Joint Pension ("Pop-Up")
If you retired after 1990, you also had the opportunity to elect a "special joint pension" which allowed your reduced monthly pension to increase or "pop up" to the full amount, as if you had never elected a joint pension, if your joint pensioner dies before you. However, your basic monthly pension benefit amount was further reduced to reflect this additional benefit.
Cash Balance Benefits
If you had a Cash Balance Pension Benefit when you retired, you had the option to elect to receive your Cash Balance Benefit in a single lump sum payout or in any of the annuity forms described above.
Changing Your Election
Once your pension payments begin, your elections are irrevocable. For instance, if you are receiving a pension benefit and your spouse dies before you do, your pension amount will not be increased unless you elected the special joint pension with your spouse. Your joint pension may not be transferred to another person. If you are widowed or divorced after you retire and subsequently remarry, you cannot name your new spouse as your joint pensioner.