Skip to Content

Divorce and Your Benefits

Retirement Options

Information Common to All Options
  • No matter which option is elected, one-twelfth of the Participant’s annual benefit will be paid monthly for as long as the Participant lives.
  • By operation of law, upon the death of an ex-spouse, all payments revert back to the Participant.
  • After meeting Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) eligibility requirements, a spouse of a deceased retiree who is the beneficiary under a survivorship option, is entitled to one-half the COLA amount that would have been paid to the retiree. COLA payments to an ex-spouse will cease upon the Participant’s death.
Option Descriptions
Single Life Allowance (all tiers)
This option provides the maximum benefit. All payments will stop upon the Participant’s death. The proportionate amount of the monthly allowance owed to the Participant as of the date of death will be payable to the Participant’s ordinary death benefit beneficiary(ies). For Tier 1 members, ordinary death benefit designations may only be changed prior to retirement.
Cash Refund — Contributions (Tiers 1 & 2)
If the Participant dies before receiving annuity payments equal to his or her accumulated contributions, the option beneficiary(ies) will receive the accumulated contributions balance. The option beneficiary(ies) may choose payment either as a lump sum or as a monthly payment that ends when the balance is exhausted. The pension portion of the Participant’s benefit will cease at his or her death. The option beneficiary(ies) may be changed at any time.
Cash Refund — Initial Value (Tier 1)
If the Participant dies before receiving retirement benefit payments equal to the initial value of his or her benefit, the balance will be paid to the option beneficiary(ies). The option beneficiary(ies) may choose payment as either a lump sum or a monthly benefit that ends when the remainder of the calculated value of the benefit is exhausted.  The beneficiary(ies) may be changed at any time.
Five Year Certain (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit and the additional guarantee that, if he or she lives for less than five years after retirement, payments in the same amount he or she was receiving (without COLA) will be made to the option beneficiary(ies) for the balance of the five-year period. If the Participant lives more than five years after retirement, he or she will continue to receive payments for his or her lifetime, but no payments will be made to any option beneficiary(ies) or estate when the Participant dies. The option beneficiary(ies) may be changed at any time. If the option beneficiary(ies) dies within the five-year period and the Participant dies without naming a new option beneficiary(ies), any amount payable will be paid to the Participant’s estate.
Ten Year Certain (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit and the additional guarantee that, if he or she lives for less than ten years after retirement, payments in the same amount he or she was receiving (without COLA) will be made to the option beneficiary(ies) for the balance of the ten-year period. If the Participant lives more than ten years after retirement, he or she will continue to receive payments for his or her lifetime, but no payments will be made to any option beneficiary(ies) or estate when the Participant dies. The option beneficiary(ies) may be changed at any time. If the option beneficiary(ies) dies within the ten-year period and the Participant dies without naming a new option beneficiary(ies), any amount payable will be paid to the Participant’s estate.
*Joint Allowance — Full (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. If the Participant dies, the option  beneficiary will receive the Participant’s total monthly benefit for the rest of his or her life. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, all payments will stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Joint Allowance — Half (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. If the Participant dies, the option beneficiary will receive one-half of the Participant’s monthly benefit for the rest of his or her life. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, all payments will stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Pop-Up/Joint Allowance — Full (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. If the Participant dies, the option beneficiary will receive the Participant’s total monthly benefit for the rest of his or her life. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, the Participant’s benefit is increased to the amount that would have been payable under the Single Life Allowance option, and all payments will stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Pop-Up/Joint Allowance — Half (all tiers)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. If the Participant dies, the option beneficiary will receive one-half of the Participant’s monthly benefit for the rest of his or her life. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, the Participant’s benefit is increased to the amount that would have been payable under the Single Life Allowance option, and all payments stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Joint Allowance — Partial (Tiers 3 and 4)
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. The Participant must elect the continuance of 75, 50 or 25 percent of the retirement benefit payable to the option beneficiary. If the Participant dies, the option beneficiary will receive 75, 50 or 25 percent of the amount the Participant had been receiving for the rest of his or her life. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, all payments stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Special Joint Allowance
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. The continuance payable to the option beneficiary after the Participant’s date of death is customized. This election is typically required if the Participant is directed to provide the ex-spouse with a continued marital share of the retirement benefit. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, all payments stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.
*Pop-Up/Special Joint Allowance
This option provides the Participant with a reduced lifetime benefit based on the Participant’s and the option beneficiary’s dates of birth. The continuance payable to the option beneficiary after the Participant’s date of death is customized. This election is typically required if the Participant is directed to provide the ex-spouse with a continued marital share of the retirement benefit. If the option beneficiary dies before the Participant, the Participant’s benefit is increased to the amount that would have been payable under the Single Life Allowance option and all payments stop at the Participant’s death. The Participant can designate only one option beneficiary and the option beneficiary cannot be changed.

*We require documentary proof of the beneficiary’s date of birth if this option is selected.

Partial Lump Sum Option

Article 21 of the Retirement and Social Security Law established a new retirement option for certain Police and Fire Retirement System members. The Partial Lump Sum Option (PLS) allows eligible Participants to receive a portion of their retirement benefit in a lump sum at retirement, resulting in a reduced monthly benefit. Eligible Participants who choose PLS must also choose an option for the payment of their monthly benefit.

A Participant with a DRO can choose the PLS option. If the DRO addresses the PLS, the Retirement System will review the terms of the DRO and comply with the order.

If the DRO does not address the PLS, the ex-spouse’s share will be calculated as if no PLS was taken. The Retirement System will use a hypothetical calculation to determine the ex-spouse’s share to avoid reductions resulting from the Participant’s PLS election. The ex-spouse will receive the same amount that the Judge ordered in the DRO. The Participant will receive the PLS distribution at retirement and only his or her portion will be reduced by the PLS election.

If the DRO does not address the PLS and the ex-spouse wants to receive a portion of the PLS distribution or if there are any other objections involving the PLS payout, the DRO will need to be revised. The Retirement System will contact the Participant and the ex-spouse and give them 45 days to return to Court and serve the Retirement System with either a Temporary Restraining Order or an amended DRO to provide the ex-spouse with a portion of the PLS distribution. Otherwise the Retirement System will process the PLS as described above.

By operation of law, upon the death of an ex-spouse, all payments revert back to the Participant.