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Pensions and Benefits
PERSONAL BENEFIT STATEMENTS
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why did my last statement give me a higher retirement amount than this year's?

When you retire, your retirement allowance is based on your service credit and — depending on your retirement system and membership tier — the average of either your five highest years, three highest years, or last year of salary. Since the Division of Pensions and benefits issues nearly half million Personal Benefits Statements each year, we must make a quick calculation of salary for these statements, rather than search the employee's salary history for the three/five highest years of salary. For the statements, the computer takes the salary you earned in the three months preceding the statement date and converts it into an annual salary. With this in mind, listed below are principal reasons why the estimated retirement benefit on the statements would decrease from one year to the next.

First, if your salary decreased from what you were earning in the previous year, the salary used to estimate the benefit would decrease and cause a corresponding decrease in the estimated retirement allowance.

Second, if you received a retroactive salary increase during the three months upon which your statement is based, the computer assumes that the total salary in the quarter (including the retroactive increase) is the new quarterly salary. It then converts that inflated quarterly salary into an inflated annual salary which, in turn, overstates the estimated retirement allowance. If, in the following year, the quarterly salary does not include a retroactive increase, the estimated retirement allowance will be more accurate but will appear to decrease from the overstated benefit of the previous year.

Third, if you are over age 60 and, therefore, eligible for a Service Retirement, the Division applies a reduction factor to the calculation of your Personal Benefit Statement to avoid any overstatement of benefits that may occur from estimating using the current quarterly salary rather than the three or five year averaging used to calculate your actual benefit.

Be assured that when you file an application for a retirement allowance, the Division of Pensions and Benefits will use the actual salaries reported for you, rather than estimating salary as is done for the Personal Benefits Statements.

If you are within two years of retirement, you can:

  • use the Member Benefits Online System (MBOS) to get a retirement estimate online;
  • call our Automated Information System at (609) 292-7524 to hear a retirement estimate over the phone; or
  • complete and mail a Request for Retirement Estimate to receive a written retirement estimate in the mail (please allow up to six weeks processing of a written estimate request).

2. Why did the amount that is contributed by my employer for my benefits decrease?

Each year the actuaries for the various retirement systems administered by the Division of Pensions and Benefits review the assets and liabilities of these systems. Based on the projected retirement allowances to be paid when members of these retirement systems retire, they determine how much needs to be paid that year by employers, after taking into account the contributions received from members and the return on investment of pension assets, so that the retirement and death benefits guaranteed by law will be fully funded. The employers are then billed for their portion of the liability based on the service credit earned and salary reported in that year for all of their employees. Because of varying returns on the investment of the assets of the pension systems, the employer billing will vary from year to year.

3. I purchased my temporary service. Why didn't my enrollment date change?

The date you were enrolled in the pension plan never changes, even if you purchase credit for service prior to your enrollment date. Your service credit and average salary, not your enrollment date, will be used to determine your eventual retirement allowance. The increase to your service credit from the purchase will be reflected on your Personal Benefits Statement in the service credit line if the purchase was made before the statement date.

4. Why did my total contributions to the pension system decrease?

If you borrow from the retirement system, it reduces your contribution balance shown as "Your contributions" on the Personal Benefits Statement. You will note, however, that "Your total contributions as of..." figure below that, which adds your loan balance to your contribution balance, increased from last year's statement.

5. I work at several different employers. Were my service and contributions from all employers included in the statement I received?

Since you contribute to the same pension plan through more than one public employer, you are considered a “multiple member” of the pension plan. Although only one Personal Benefits Statement is prepared for you, the salary from all of the employers who took pension contributions from you is considered when your Personal Benefits Statement is prepared.

Please note that PERS and TPAF members enrolled after May 21, 2010, are limited to the reporting of pension contributions and receipt of service credit from only one public employer.

6. My statement indicates that I have 24 years, 11.83 months. I should have 25 years. Why doesn't my statement reflect 25 years?

State employees are paid and pension service credit is accumulated in biweekly pay periods. However, pension calculations are done on the basis of months of service. Therefore, the pay periods of service reported each year must be converted to months of service. This results in a decimal or partial month of service credit. Upon retirement, any decimal of 0.1 or higher is rounded up to an additional month of service credit.

If you were an employee of the State of New Jersey at any time, your service credit may be reported this way.

For example, if a member had credit for 250 pay periods of service as of the statement date, that would be divided by the 2.175 pay periods per month to arrive at 114.94 months of service. The 114 months would be divided by 12 to produce a service of 9.5 years or 9 years and 6 months of service. The remaining decimal would be added to produce the service shown on the statement of 9 years and 6.94 months of service. If the member had retired on the statement date, the service credit used to calculate the retirement allowance would be 9 years and 7 months of service due to rounding up the decimal.

7. I am a veteran. Why isn't "Veteran's Status" checked on my statement? What should I do?

If we have not placed an "X" in the Veteran Status box on your Personal Benefits Statement, we do not have proof of your veteran status on file. To be considered a veteran in the pension plan you must have been discharged or released from military service under conditions other than dishonorable. In addition, you must have completed at least 90 days of active military service with at least one of the days falling on or within the following dates: WWII: 9/16/40 - 12/31/46; Korean conflict: 6/23/50 - 1/31/55; Vietnam conflict: 12/31/60 - 5/7/75.

To be eligible for veteran status in the post-Vietnam period, you must have served in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama or the Persian Gulf, or on ships patrolling the territorial waters of those nations for at least 14 days with the start of your service falling on or within the following dates: Lebanon: 9/26-82 - 12/1/87; Grenada: 10/23/83 - 11/21/83; Panama: 12/20/89 - 1/31/90; the Arabian Peninsula or aboard ships patrolling the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield/Storm: 8/20/90 – present; Somalia: 12/5/92 - 3/31/94; Bosnia and Herzegovina: 11/20/95 – present; Operation Enduring Freedom: 9/1101 – present; or Operation Iraqi Freedom: 3/23/03 - present. If your service started prior to the beginning of the periods of hostilities, you must have served all 14 days within the dates specified.

A photocopy of your discharge from military service (Form DD214) showing enlistment and discharge dates should be sent to the Division of Military and Veterans Affairs at this address - NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, ATTN: DVP-VBB, PO Box 340, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0340 to establish your veteran status - do not send the original.

8. All other employees received a statement. I did not. What should I do?

If you did not contribute to the retirement system any time in the three months preceding the statement date, no statement was prepared for you. If you were paid during those months, ask your Human Resources Representative if all statements have been distributed. If they have, ask your Human Resources Representative to fax the Request for Duplicate Statements Adobe PDF (14K) to the Division of Pensions and Benefits requesting a duplicate statement for you. You should receive your duplicate statement within 2-3 weeks from the time your Human Resources Representative makes the request.

9. No one at my location received a statement. What should I do?

If no active employee received a Personal Benefit Statement, see your Human Resources or Payroll Representative. One of the following reasons may apply:

  • The statements may have been inadvertently delivered to an incorrect address by the Courier Service;
  • Your location did not submit their Report of Contributions to the Division of Pensions and Benefits by the cut-off date for the quarter. Therefore, Personal Benefits Statements will not be produced for your location;
  • It is not the quarter for your statement to be processed (example - you are a PERS member and are looking for your statement during the 2nd quarter of the year. PERS statements are only printed effective the 4th quarter of the year).
10. Will I receive a statement if I terminate employment?
No, if you are not on the payroll in the three months preceding the statement date, no statement will be issued.
11. Will I receive a statement if I transfer to another public employer?
A Personal Benefits Statement will be issued to the employer you were working for in the three months preceding the statement date. If you switched employers since then, your former employer is supposed to forward your Personal Benefits Statement to your new employer. If you switched employers during the three months (quarter) your Personal Benefit Statement is effective, a statement will not be generated for you.

12. My birth date is incorrect on my Personal Benefits Statement. How do I request a correction?

If the "Proof of Birth Date" box is not checked on your Personal Benefits Statement or if the birth date indicated for you is incorrect, please send a photocopy of your birth certificate to the Division of Pensions and Benefits with your Social Security number written on it.

Before we can pay you a retirement benefit we must have your birth evidence on file.

13. Why does my Personal Benefits Statement have my first name broken into a first name and a middle initial?

The Personal Benefits Statement program reads first names as one name only. Middle names are used as initials. For example, a name such as Ruth Ann Smith would show on the Personal Benefits Statement as Ruth A. Smith. If the first name was one name, such as Ruthann Smith, the statement would indicate Ruthann Smith.

 
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