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Payment of Benefits

Your pension benefit depends on your

  • total pension credits;
  • age at retirement; and
  • the payment option you choose.

If you die before you retire, your survivors may be eligible for a benefit if you were vested.

Retiring at Age 65 (Normal Benefit)

If you retire at age 65, your benefit equals the total pension credits accrued on your retirement date divided by 12 (for monthly payments). After your death, your surviving spouse or other eligible survivors may receive a monthly benefit equal to 50 percent of your pension credits. This benefit for you and your survivors is called the “normal” form because it is the default option.

Retiring Before or After Age 65 (Early or Post-Normal Retirement)

You may choose Early Retirement (age 55 to 64) or Post-Normal Retirement (after age 65). You also have the option to increase the benefit paid to your spouse (legally married or in a qualified domestic partnership for at least one year).

  • If you retire early, your benefit is reduced to reflect the likelihood that you will receive benefits for a longer period of time.
    If you elect the Social Security Leveling Option, your pension benefit is adjusted so your total income will be approximately the same before and after Social Security payments begin.
    If you retire after age 65, your accrued pension credits are increased for each year between age 65 and age 70.

This chart shows how your age affects your pension benefit:

Early Retirement (Age 55-65)Post-Normal (Age 65+)
AgeReduction FactorPension PayableAgeIncrease FactorPension Payable
5550%  50%65None100.00%
5647%  53%66  6.50%106.50%
5744%  56%6713.00%113.00%
5841%  59%6819.50%119.50%
5938%  62%6926.00%126.00%
6035%  65%7032.50%132.50%
6129%  71%above 7032.50%132.50%
6223%  77%   
6316%  84%   
64  8%  92%   
65  0%100%   

Benefits for Your Survivors After You Retire

When you retire, you choose your payment option. You may choose

  • The Joint and 50% Survivor Pension (Normal Form) — You receive your pension for your lifetime. After your death, your spouse receives 50 percent of your monthly benefit for life. If you do not have a spouse when you die, your dependent children, parents, or siblings may be eligible for monthly benefits. Your monthly benefit is not reduced to provide this survivor benefit. This benefit for you and your survivors is called the “normal” form because it is the default option.
  • One of the Joint and Survivor Options — Your monthly benefit is reduced so you can increase the benefit paid to your spouse. You may receive 100 percent of your adjusted benefit amount for your lifetime, and your spouse may receive 75 percent of that amount after your death. Or, you may choose a “last to survive” option. You receive your adjusted benefit until you or your spouse dies. Then, the survivor receives 66-2/3 percent, 75 percent, or 100 percent (as you choose) of your adjusted benefit for life. Your personalized retirement packet will display the options available to you.

Before you apply for retirement, read the Planning to Retire booklet and Joint and Survivor Pension Options Benefits Overview available on pensions.org. Review the choices available with your family and your financial adviser before making your elections.  

Benefits for Your Survivors If You Die Before You Retire

Your eligible survivors may receive a survivor’s pension based on your accrued pension credits if you die after you are vested but before pension payments begin. The benefits paid are based on whether you have a spouse when you die.

  • If you have a spouse, he or she will receive the greater of
    • 75 percent of the adjusted benefit you would have received if you had retired on the date of your death; or
    • 50 percent of the total pension credits accrued on the date of your death.
  • If you are single, your dependent children, parents, or siblings may be eligible for 50 percent of the total pension credits accrued on the date of your death.