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PDFWAC 415-108-326

What are my retirement benefit options?

Upon retirement for service under RCW 41.40.180, 41.40.630, or 41.40.820, or for disability under RCW 41.40.210, 41.40.230, 41.40.670, or 41.40.825, you must choose to have the defined benefit portion of your retirement benefit paid to you by one of the options described in this section. If you are a Plan 1 member, you may also select an optional supplemental cost of living adjustment (COLA).
(1) Which option will pay my beneficiary a monthly benefit after my death? Options described in subsection (2)(b) through (d) of this section will pay a monthly benefit to your survivor after your death. The person you name at the time of retirement to receive a monthly benefit after your death is referred to as your "survivor beneficiary." After your death, your survivor beneficiary will receive a monthly benefit for the duration of their life. Your monthly retirement benefit will be reduced to offset the cost of the survivor option. See WAC 415-02-380 for more information on how your monthly benefit will be affected if you choose a survivor option.
(2) What are my benefit options?
(a) Option one: Standard benefit (nonsurvivor option). The department will pay you a monthly retirement benefit throughout your lifetime. Your monthly benefit will cease upon your death.
(b) Option two: Joint and one hundred percent survivor benefit. The department will pay you a reduced monthly retirement benefit throughout your lifetime. After your death, your survivor beneficiary will receive a gross monthly benefit equal to your gross monthly benefit.
(c) Option three: Joint and fifty percent survivor benefit. The department will pay you a reduced monthly retirement benefit throughout your lifetime. After your death, your survivor beneficiary will receive a gross monthly benefit equal to fifty percent of your gross monthly benefit.
(d) Option four: Joint and two-thirds survivor benefit.1 The department will pay you a reduced monthly retirement benefit throughout your lifetime. After your death, your survivor beneficiary will receive a gross monthly benefit equal to two-thirds (66.667%) of your gross monthly benefit.
(3) Do I need my spouse's consent on the option I choose? The option you select will determine whether spousal consent is required.
(a) If you are married and select a nonsurvivor benefit option, you must provide your spouse's consent, verified by a notarized signature or other means acceptable to the department. If you do not provide spousal consent, the department will pay you a monthly retirement benefit based on option three (joint and fifty percent benefit) with your spouse as the survivor beneficiary as required by RCW 41.40.188, 41.40.660 and 41.40.845.
(b) If you are married and select a survivor benefit option for your spouse, spousal consent is not required. The department will pay you a monthly benefit based on the option you selected.
(c) If you are married and select a survivor benefit option for someone other than your spouse, spousal consent is required. If you do not provide spousal consent, verified by a notarized signature or other means acceptable to the department, the department will pay you a monthly retirement benefit based on option three (joint and fifty percent benefit) with your spouse as the survivor beneficiary as required by RCW 41.40.188, 41.40.660 and 41.40.845.
(d) If your survivor beneficiary has been designated by a dissolution order according to subsection (4) of this section, which was filed with the department at least thirty days before your retirement date, spousal consent is not required.
(4) Can a dissolution order require that a former spouse be designated as a survivor beneficiary? Yes. A dissolution order may require that a former spouse be designated as a survivor beneficiary. The department is required to pay survivor benefits to a former spouse pursuant to a dissolution order that complies with RCW 41.50.790.
(5) What is the supplemental COLA option for Plan 1 members? If you are a Plan 1 member, in addition to choosing a retirement benefit option described in subsection (2) of this section, you may choose to receive a supplemental annual COLA. If you select this option, your monthly retirement benefit will be actuarially reduced to offset the cost of this benefit.
(6) What happens if I choose a benefit with a survivor option and my survivor beneficiary dies before I do? If your survivor beneficiary dies before you do, you may request to have your benefit increased as described in WAC 415-02-380.
(7) May I change my benefit option after retirement? Your choice of a benefit option is irrevocable with the following three exceptions:
(a) Return to membership. If you retire and then return to membership for at least two years of uninterrupted service, you may choose a different retirement option upon your subsequent retirement. See RCW 41.40.037.
(b) Postretirement marriage option. If you select the standard benefit option at the time of retirement and marry after retirement, you may select a survivor benefit option and name your current spouse as survivor beneficiary, provided that:
(i) Your benefit is not subject to a property division obligation pursuant to a dissolution order. See WAC 415-02-500;
(ii) The selection is made during a one-year window, on or after the date of the first anniversary and before the second anniversary of your postretirement marriage;
(iii) You provide a copy of your certified marriage certificate to the department; and
(iv) You provide proof of your current spouse's birth date.
(c) Removal of a nonspouse survivor option. If you select a survivor benefit option and name a nonspouse as your survivor beneficiary at the time of retirement, you may remove that survivor beneficiary designation and have your benefit adjusted to a standard benefit. You may exercise this option one time only.
(8) Who will receive the balance of my accumulated contributions, if any, after my death?
(a) Plan 1 and 2 members:
(i) If you do not have a survivor beneficiary at the time of your death, and you die before the total of the retirement benefit paid equals the amount of your accumulated contributions at the time of retirement, the balance will be paid:
(A) To the person or entity (i.e., trust, organization, or estate) you have nominated by written designation, executed and filed with the department.
(B) If you have not designated a beneficiary, or if your designated beneficiary is no longer living or in existence, then to your surviving spouse.
(C) If not paid according to (a)(i)(A) or (B) of this subsection, then to your estate.
(ii) If you have a survivor beneficiary at the time of your death, and your survivor beneficiary dies before the total of the retirement benefit paid equals the amount of your accumulated contributions at the time of retirement, the balance will be paid:
(A) To the person or entity (i.e., trust, organization, or estate) your survivor beneficiary has nominated by written designation, executed and filed with the department.
(B) If your survivor beneficiary has not designated a beneficiary, or if the designated beneficiary is no longer living or in existence, then to your survivor beneficiary's spouse.
(C) If not paid according to (a)(ii)(A) or (B) of this subsection, then to your survivor beneficiary's estate.
(b) Plan 3 members: The defined benefit stops upon your death or upon the death of your survivor beneficiary, if applicable. As a Plan 3 member, you do not contribute to the defined benefit portion of your retirement benefit. The defined contribution portion of your benefit will be distributed according to WAC 415-111-310.
(9) For more information, see RCW 41.40.188 (Plan 1), RCW 41.40.660 (Plan 2) and RCW 41.40.845 (Plan 3).
1
Available to members retiring on or after January 1, 1996.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 41.50.050. WSR 20-13-065, § 415-108-326, filed 6/15/20, effective 7/16/20; WSR 20-06-040, § 415-108-326, filed 2/27/20, effective 3/29/20. Statutory Authority: RCW 41.50.050(5). WSR 13-18-034, § 415-108-326, filed 8/28/13, effective 10/1/13. Statutory Authority: RCW 41.50.050(5), 41.40.188, 41.40.660, 41.40.845. WSR 05-23-062, § 415-108-326, filed 11/14/05, effective 12/15/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 41.50.050(5), 41.26.460, 41.32.530, 41.32.785, 41.32.851, 41.35.220, 41.40.188, 41.40.660, 41.40.845. WSR 01-10-045, § 415-108-326, filed 4/26/01, effective 6/1/01. Statutory Authority: RCW 41.50.050. WSR 99-14-008, § 415-108-326, filed 6/24/99, effective 7/25/99. Statutory Authority: RCW 2.10.146, 41.26.460, 41.32.530, 41.50.050, 41.32.785, 41.40.188 and 41.40.660. WSR 96-01-047, § 415-108-326, filed 12/14/95, effective 1/14/96. Statutory Authority: RCW 34.05.050 and 1990 c 249. WSR 91-03-015, § 415-108-326, filed 1/7/91, effective 2/7/91.]
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