Creditable service is one of the factors used to calculate the amount of a member’s retirement benefit. It is also determines whether a member has vested . A member will become vested upon reaching ten (10) years of creditable service. Vesting enables a member who becomes inactive to leave his or her retirement deductions on deposit with the retirement system in order to qualify for a retirement allowance upon attaining age fifty-five (55) or greater.
The amount of service credit a member accrues depends on the number of hours per week worked. As of September 1, 2010:
- Members are credited with one year of service for each year of employment of not less than 20 hours per week, or a yearly proportion thereof.
- If the member’s hours of employment fall below 20 hours per week, members are credited with one-half year of creditable service, or a yearly proportion thereof.
Creditable Service—Leaves of Absence
Authorized leaves of absence will be applied toward your creditable service. The credit received is based on the length of the leave and the amount of compensation received by the member. For unpaid leaves, members earn up to one month of credit.
Creditable Service—Transfers In
If a member leaves his or her job and goes to work for another governmental unit which comes under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 32, his or her creditable service will be transferred from the other retirement system to Middlesex County Retirement System. Such service will be added to service rendered in the Middlesex County Retirement System to determine vesting.
Creditable Service—Service Purchases
Members-in-service may be eligible to purchase service rendered prior to establishing membership with the Middlesex County Retirement System. Such service will be added to service rendered in the Middlesex County Retirement System to determine vesting.
Veterans can purchase up to four years of retirement credit for their active military service. National Guard and Reserve time is pro-rated on a 5 to 1 basis. For every 5 years of Guard and Reserve service, a member will receive 1 year of credit.
The cost of this service is 10% of a member’s first year salary upon entering the retirement system for each year purchased. No interest is charged. Members may rollover funds from deferred compensation or tax-deferred plans with no penalties to purchase this time. In addition, installment payment plans are available.
Call Firefighters and Permanent Intermittent/Reserve Police Officers
A call firefighter or permanent-intermittent/reserve police officer can purchase up to 5 years of retirement credit for the period he or she was on his or her respective list and eligible to be appointed as a permanent police officer or permanent firefighter. The service is eligible for purchase only if such member was later appointed as a permanent member of the department in the same town.
The cost of this service is based upon retirement contributions which would have been withheld from the compensation actually paid for services. If no services were rendered, the retirement system will use a hypothetical annual pay of $3,000. While the cost is usually minimal, interest does apply.
If a member previously rendered public service, and then left and took a refund of his or her annuity savings account, the prior service credit may be bought back. There is no limit on the amount of time that can be purchased. Actuarial interest rates will apply.
There is an exception, however. If a member establishes membership in a Massachusetts contributory retirement system on or after April 2, 2012, and had been a member previously and taken a refund, the member will have one year from the date he or she re-entered public service to apply and pay for the service at a lower buyback interest rate. After one year of re-entry to membership, however, the member will be subject to the higher actuarial interest rate.