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CHANGES TO RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR LAW … - drawing from 401k after retirement

CHANGES TO RETIREMENT BENEFITS FOR LAW …-drawing from 401k after retirement

August 2018
If you are a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) who is a member of the Local Governmental Employees'
Retirement System (LGERS) or the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System (TSERS), your
retirement benefits may be affected by the new "25-Year LEO Retirement Option" law (Session Law
This new law creates eligibility for some LEOs to retire at earlier dates, but the officer's pension
may be reduced substantially and will not include any Special Separation Allowance (SSA)
monthly payments on account of the earlier retirement.
Each LEO should consider his or her circumstances carefully when deciding on a retirement date.
LEO retirement rules that are still the same
Before describing the provisions of the new law, it may be useful to review some details about LEO
retirement benefits that are not affected by the new law.
? The full (or "unreduced") pension, payable for the LEO's lifetime, is 1.85 percent (for LGERS) or
1.82 percent (for TSERS) times creditable service, times four-year average final compensation.
? LEOs can retire with a full pension at age 55 after five years of service as a LEO, or at any age
with 30 years of creditable service under TSERS or LGERS.
? LEOs retiring with an unreduced pension, before age 62, may also receive a benefit called the
Special Separation Allowance (SSA). In order for the SSA to be payable, at least 50 percent of
the LEO's creditable service must be service as a LEO. The SSA is equal to 0.85 percent times
creditable service, times the most recent base pay rate. It is payable during the LEO's retirement
until age 62.
? LEOs can also retire at age 50, after 15 years of service as a LEO. For those who retire before
age 55 under this provision, the pension is reduced to account for earlier retirement. For
example, a LEO retiring at age 50 with 15 years of creditable service can receive 80 percent of
the full pension. The SSA is not payable in this situation.
? The new law does not change the terms of any retiree medical benefits that may be available
under the State Health Plan or that may be funded by a local government employer, except that
some LEOs may choose to retire at different dates as a result of the new law. Supplemental
Retirement Plan benefits (such as the NC 401(k), 457 or 403(b)) are also not affected.
LEO retirement rules affected by the new law
The new law changes the retirement provisions for LEOs in two primary ways.
Item 1: "25-Year Retirement" at Any Age
Effective July 1, 2019, LEOs may retire with a reduced benefit at any age, after 25 years of creditable
service (at least 15 years as a LEO). Note that before this change, LEOs in this group who are at least 50
years old already could retire with a reduced pension, and LEOs with at least 30 years of creditable
service could retire with a full pension at any age. What is new under this change is that LEOs younger
than 50, who have 25 years (but not 30 years) of creditable service, may retire with reduced pensions.
Since the benefit is reduced for early retirement, the SSA is not payable. (See Item 2 in this description
related to possible employer-funded buyouts.)
Here is an illustration of the percentage of the full pension that LEOs may receive under this rule, at each
retirement age up to 50. In addition to these reductions to the pension amount, officers retiring under the
25-year provision do not receive the monthly SSA. (Again, see Item 2 for more information.)
Table 1: Percentage of Full Pension Payable Under "25 Year" LEO Retirement
(Excludes SSA, Which Is Not Payable Under 25-Year Retirement)
Creditable 29 28 27 26 25
50 95% 90% 85% 80% 80%
49 91% 86% 81% 76% 76% CONSIDER THIS:
48 87% 82% 77% 72% 72% A LEO retiring at age 48
47 83% 78% 73% 68% 68%
46 79% 74% 69% 64% 64% with 27 years of creditable
45 75% 70% 65% 60% 60% service could receive 77
44 71% 66% 61% 56% 56% percent of the full pension.
43 67% 62% 57% 52% 52%
If the same LEO worked
To assist officers in understanding the potential effect of forgoing three more years, until
the monthly SSA, we have prepared the following tables that age 51, he or she could
estimate the percentage reduction in the benefits payable before retire with 30 years of
and after age 62, if the officer were to retire immediately as service, receiving the full
compared to working until the 30-year service mark. The tables pension.
are intended as simplified illustrations, and will not correspond to
each officer's situation. For instance, they assume that the four- In addition, by working
year average final compensation (used for the pension until age 51, this LEO
calculation) is equal to the final salary rate (used for the SSA
calculation), and disregard adjustments due to sick leave could receive the monthly
conversions. The tables were generated based on hypothetical Special Separation
LGERS members, but they would not be materially different Allowance, equal to 25.5
using TSERS members. percent of the final salary
rate (0.85 percent times
30 years of service),
payable for 11 years until
age 62.
Table 2: 25-Year LEO Retirement Pension, as an Approximate
Percentage of Total 30-Year Retirement Pension + SSA That
Would Have Been Payable Before Age 62
Creditable 29 28 27 26 25 CONSIDER THIS:
Extra Early 1 2 3 4 5 By retiring under the new
Years 25-year provision, this
of Pension, LEO could receive $1,923
30-Year per month from age 48 for
Retirement: life.
Percentage of Pre-62 Monthly Pension + SSA vs. 30-Year
Retirement If the LEO worked until
Retirement age 51, the total monthly
age 50 63% 58% 52% 48% 46% pension plus SSA could
49 60% 55% 50% 45% 43%
48 58% 52% 47% 43% 41% have been $4,050 per
47 55% 50% 45% 40% 39% month ($2,775 + $1,275)
46 52% 47% 43% 38% 37% from age 51 to 62, and
45 50% 45% 40% 36% 34% $2,775 after age 62.
44 47% 42% 38% 33% 32%
43 44% 40% 35% 31% 30% By retiring under the 25-year
provision, the monthly amount
Table 3: 25-Year LEO Retirement Pension, as an Approximate would be about
Percentage of Total 30-Year Retirement Pension That Would 47 percent of the monthly
Have Been Payable After Age 62 benefit that would have been
Creditable 29 28 27 26 25 payable if the LEO waited until
Service: the 30-year mark, and 69
Percentage of Post-62 Monthly Pension + SSA vs. 30-Year percent of the monthly benefit
Retirement that would have been payable
Retirement after age 62.
age 50 92% 84% 77% 69% 67%
49 88% 80% 73% 66% 63%
48 84% 77% 69% 62% 60%
47 80% 73% 66% 59% 57%
46 76% 69% 62% 55% 53%
45 73% 65% 59% 52% 50%
44 69% 62% 55% 49% 47%
43 65% 58% 51% 45% 43%
In Table 1, we considered a LEO retiring at age 48 with 27 years of service. Let's assume that the officer
is an LGERS member, with a four-year average final compensation of $60,000 per year, or $5,000 per
month. The early retirement pension at age 48 under the new law is 1.85% x $5,000 x 27 x 77% (from
Table 1), or $1,923 per month.
After working three more years (until age 51), assuming no further increases in pay, the LEO could have
retired with a pension of 1.85% x $5,000 x 30, or $2,775 per month. In addition, upon age 51 retirement,
this LEO could have received a monthly SSA of 0.85% x $5,000 x 30, or $1,275 per month, for 11 years
until age 62.

When can I draw from my 401k without penalty? You can withdraw money penalty-free from your 401 (k) at age 59 1/2. 4 That's the limit set by federal law, but keep in mind that your situation could be complicated if you continue working into your 60s. Check with your employer to see whether you're allowed to withdraw from your 401 (k) while working.