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MFPRSI. Municipal Fire & Police Retirement System of Iowa

FAQ

Reminder to Families of Members/Beneficiaries in Pay

It is important that you immediately report the death of any member or beneficiary who is receiving a benefit from the System. A Pension Officer will provide information concerning any additional benefits payable. Thank you for your assistance.

Address Change

How do I report a change of address to the System?

The Post Office provides Change of Address cards. Please send one of these completed cards to the System. The System also accepts notification in the form of a letter or fax. Your notification must include:

  • Your old address
  • Your new address and phone number
  • Your social security number
  • Your hand-written signature.

If neither of the above methods is possible, you may call the System at (888) 254-9200 to report your new address. Because all address changes must be received in writing, a Pension Officer will then send you an Address Change form. You may then complete the form and submit it to the System. You may also visit our website at www.mfprsi.org to print a form.

I have a winter and a summer address. Do I have to notify you each time I move?

As a retired member you must notify the System each time you change locations. Address changes must be submitted in writing. The request should include your name, social security number, the new address and your signature. For the member's protection, address change requests cannot be accepted by phone or email.

Why do I have to sign a form or mail you a letter to change my address? Why can't you make the change when I call on the phone?

For the member's protection, the System will make address changes only upon receipt of authorization with a hand-written signature from the member. When the document is received by the System, the signature of the request is compared to the member's signature on file. In this way, the System ensures the request came from the member and not from an outside party for illegal purposes. There is no way to ensure identity over the phone.

Annual Statement Request

How far ahead should I submit a request for information for the purpose of applying for a loan with a bank or a financial institution?

The retirement system cannot directly communicate with a third party on your behalf without your written authorization. Such written authorization from you should include the name of the third party and the information being requested—value of accrued benefit being paid or to be paid by the retirement system. Such requests should be submitted 15–30 days in advance of the date the information is needed by the lending institution.

Benefit Estimate Request

Does the Retirement System endorse or advocate the use of any particular financial advisor or consultant?

No. The Retirement System strongly recommends that you contact the Pension System with your questions regarding your retirement benefits. Financial planners and consultants should not be looked to for advice regarding MFPRSI benefits nor should they be viewed as experts on this subject.

Benefit Payment Information

When do you mail the benefit checks? Is there any way I can get my check sooner?

Payroll is always the end of the month. All checks are placed in the mail and all Direct Deposits are automatically deposited into banking accounts.

If my benefit check is lost, is there a fee to have the check replaced?

Yes, the System may charge a fee for a replacement check in the amount of the bank charges incurred by the System. In the event the System has already issued a replacement check to the recipient in the previous twelve months, an administrative fee of $25.00 will be charged in addition to the amount of the bank charges. If you are still receiving your check in the mail, you may want to consider switching to Direct Deposit. With Direct Deposit you eliminate the delays caused by postal delivery and also protect yourself from checks that can be lost through misdelivered or stolen mail. Enrollment in Direct Deposit is easy. Call the System at (888) 254-9200 for your application or download the form from our website.

When I retire, can I receive a check?

Your benefit will be Direct Deposited into your bank. A Direct Deposit Notice is mailed to the address on file with the System.

Contact Us

How should I contact the retirement System if I need information concerning my benefits rights and other questions I have concerning the System?

MFPRSI 7155 Lake Drive Suite 201 
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266 
Phone: (888) 254-9200 or (515) 254-9200 
Fax: (515) 254-9300
Email Pension Department

Death Benefits for Active Members

As an active member of the System, do I need to submit a Beneficiary Designation?

All active members are encouraged to maintain a current beneficiary designation with the System. The retirement System will pay all sums payable under the Plan by reason of an active member's death prior to retirement in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 411.

The statute provides for payment of death benefits as follows:

Ordinary Death
In the event of a non-work-related death of an active member, the death benefit shall be paid in the following order of priority:

  1. To the member's designated beneficiary.
  2. To the member's surviving spouse.
  3. To the member's surviving children (including adult children), in equal shares.
  4. To the member's estate.
  5. To the member's heirs if the estate is not probated.

Accidental Death 
In the event of a work-related death of an active member, the death benefit shall be paid in the following order of priority:

  1. To the member's surviving spouse.
  2. To the member's surviving dependent children in equal shares.
  3. To the member's surviving dependent parents, in equal shares.
  4. To the member's designated beneficiary.
  5. To the member's estate.
  6. To the member's heirs if the estate is not probated.
I'm an active member. Can I name both my spouse and my children as a primary beneficiary?

Yes, you can name your spouse and children as primary beneficiaries. However, such a designation requires your spouse?s notarized signature in the ?Consent to Spouse? in order to be valid. When more than one person is named, the benefit will be divided equally.

I am an active member of the System. If something should happen to me, what will be available for my spouse and children upon my death?

There are two Death Benefits available following the death of an active member of the System.

Accidental Death Benefits: (Death in the Line of Duty) 
The spouse would receive an annuity equal to 50% of your high three years of compensation. The spouse would receive a monthly benefit for his/her lifetime. For each dependent child, a monthly pension equal to 6% of the average earnable compensation of the active membership of the retirement system, as reported by the actuary. This benefit would last until age 18 or age 22 if the dependent child is a full-time student. [If the death was due to a traumatic injury on the job, the family would also be eligible to receive an Accidental Death Lump Sum payment.]

Ordinary Death Benefits: (Death NOT in the Line of Duty) 
The spouse has a choice of benefit. The first option is a lump sum payment equal to 50% of your earnable compensation during the last year of service. The second option is an annuity equal to 40% of your high three years of compensation and paid in a monthly benefit for the spouse?s lifetime. The dependent children?s benefit is the same as explained under the Accidental Death Benefits.

I'm an active member. If I don't submit a beneficiary designation, what will happen in the event of my death?

If no beneficiary designation is in place at the time of your death, the benefits will be paid according to Iowa Code:

Ordinary Death 
In the event of a non-work-related death of an active member, the death benefit shall be paid in the following order of priority:

  1. To the member's designated beneficiary.
  2. To the member's surviving spouse.
  3. To the member's surviving children (including adult children), in equal shares.
  4. To the member's estate.
  5. To the member's heirs if the estate is not probated.

Accidental Death 
In the event of a work-related death of an active member, the death benefit shall be paid in the following order of priority:

  1. To the member's surviving spouse.
  2. To the member's surviving dependent children in equal shares.
  3. To the member's surviving dependent parents, in equal shares.
  4. To the member's designated beneficiary.
  5. To the member's estate.
  6. To the member's heirs if the estate is not probated.
What is the difference between a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary?

The primary beneficiary is the person or persons selected to receive a benefit in the event of your death. The contingent beneficiary is the person or persons selected to receive the benefit if the primary beneficiary is not alive at the time of your death.

Death Notification

My mother was receiving a benefit after my father passed away. She has now passed away. What death benefits are available?

There are no further benefits payable unless there are dependent children who are under the age of 18 or who are under the age of 22 and full time students.

Disability Retirement Information

Do I have to comply with the Earnings Test if I didn't have any income other than my pension benefit check?

In accordance with the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 411 (411.6), members on disability retirement are required to annually submit a complete copy of their federal and/or state of Iowa income tax reporting forms. Failure to comply may result in the suspension of your benefits from the System. Please note that you are no longer subject to the earnings test beginning in the year in which you are age 55.

When will I receive information in regards to the Earning Test?

For members who retire with a disability retirement and are required to comply with the Earnings Test, a memo will be forwarded from the System early in February with the guidelines concerning the filing requirements. The following are a few reminders:

  • Send a copy of your tax return (not the original), which is to be filed with the IRS.
  • A Compliance form is required in order to finalize the testing.
  • You will not need to comply with the test in the year which you turn 55. If you are 55 or younger on January 1, or after, you will need to submit a tax return for the prior year.
  • If your income exceeds the limit, you will receive a written notification when the Earnings Test is complete.
What size benefit am I entitled to with a Disability Retirement?

The Disability Retirement benefit is determined by the Member's years of service and the type of Disability awarded.

ORDINARY DISABILITY (Non-Job Related) 
Less than 5 years of Service: 25% of Member's earned compensation. 
5 Years or More of Service: 50% of the Member's earned compensation OR the percent eligible under a Service Retirement, whichever is greater.

ACCIDENTAL DISABILITY (Job Related) 
60% of Member's earned compensation OR the percent eligible under a Service Retirement, whichever is greater.

Example 1: A Member with 17 years of service is awarded an Accidental Disability. The Accidental Disability benefit is 60%. The Service Retirement benefit for 17 years of service is 51%. Therefore, the Member would be awarded 60%, which is the greater of the two benefits.

Example 2: A Member with 28 years of service is awarded an Ordinary Disability. The Ordinary Disability benefit for 5 years or more of service is 50%. The Service Retirement benefit for 28 years of service is 78%. Therefore, the Member would be awarded 78%, which is the greater of the two benefits.

I am a member who retired with a disability retirement. How is my pension impacted if I obtain a job in the neighboring state as a sheriff?

If you are employed as a sheriff or serving in one of several public safety occupations in the state of Iowa, your pension would be affected, according to Iowa Code 411.6(7). However, if you are employed as a sheriff or in another public safety occupation outside of the state of Iowa, your pension is not affected.

Legal and Tax Information

I need to have child support deducted from my pension. Can I call the System and initiate the process?

The System must have a court order or a document from the State Department of Human Services in order to initiate a child support deduction from your benefit.

What is the Representative Payee process?

A Representative Payee is a legal document authorizing one to act as a representative for the retiree/beneficiary. A Representative Payee shall represent the retiree/beneficiary in the transaction of their affairs with the System. The purpose of establishing a Representative Payee is to protect the financial interests of the retiree/beneficiary. A person serving in the capacity of Representative Payee must agree to transact all business with the System in a manner that best serves the interests of the retiree/beneficiary and to use all payments from the System for the benefit of the retiree/beneficiary. Failure to do so will cause the discontinuance of the Representative Payee relationship and may result in required repayment to the System of all or a portion of the benefits received by the Representative Payee. The Representative Payee serves in this capacity only when the retiree/beneficiary is unable, due to physical or mental limitation, to handle their own affairs. In such cases, the retirement System requires execution of a Representative Payee application and submission of any existing Power of Attorney or Appointment of Guardianship documents.

Is the system subject to the requirements of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in a divorce case involving an active or retired member?

The retirement System is not subject to the federally mandated QDRO requirement but is subject to the division of property requirements established by the State Supreme Court. The Court's requirement provide for the establishment of a Marital Property Order (MPO). The System has developed and transmits to individuals, upon their or their attorney's request, a guidance paper that provides instructions on the requirements established by the Courts with which the System must comply. Prior to the finalization of a MPO by the Courts of Iowa, the System must agree to its terms and conditions, specifically, that the MPO is not in conflict with the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 411 or of the State Supreme Court's decision. If an individual member is faced with this situation, it is important that the member or their attorney contact the System at the earliest possible date to provide for the transmittal of the guidance paper and the submission of a proposed MPO for review by the System. The System does not provide guidance or make determinations concerning the specific division of property in the divorce except if the division would violate the statutory provisions of Chapter 411.

Printable Forms

I am an active member who is recently divorced. What should I do as far as my retirement is concerned?

Please contact the System to obtain a new Beneficiary Designation form or visit our website at www.mfprsi.org to print a form. In addition, you should submit a copy of your divorce decree to the System if there is a stipulation your ex-spouse is entitled to benefits.

For my federal taxes, I requested a specific dollar amount to be withheld from my pension check every month. Now I see that it has changed. Why?

Under current Federal withholding regulations, you may no longer designate a specific dollar amount to be withheld from your pension benefit. It now requires that your monthly withholding amount be based on the tax table according to 1) your marital status and 2) the number of withholding allowances you claim. Since your federal taxes are based on a table, your withholding amount may change whenever 1) your benefit amount changes or 2) the federal tax tables change. You may request to change to the amount of federal or state taxes withheld from your benefit amount at any time. Simply contact the System and request a W-4P. A pension officer is available to assist you or download the form from the Printable Forms tab at the top of the website.

How often may I change my federal or state withholding?

A member or beneficiary may change their federal or state withholding with the System annually or at any other time their personal circumstances change and require a withholding adjustment. Contact the System at (888) 254-9200 and a Pension Officer will forward to you a tax withholding form or you can download the form from the Printable Forms tab at the top of the website.

What is the purpose of the beneficiary form?

As provided in Chapter 411, the active member of the System is provided the opportunity to designate to whom they wish the proceeds to to be paid if they are deceased prior to retirement. Upon retirement, the member is provided an opportunity to name a beneficiary if they select certain retirement benefit options.

Refund Information

I'm leaving the City to work for another Police or Fire Department not covered by the System. What are my options?

There are three options available to members leaving the System.

  1. Refund of Contributions 
    Members who terminate service (other than by death or disability) may withdraw all their contributions from the date of hire, with interest calculated for the period of membership. The contributions being withdrawn will be credited with an annualized simple interest rate determined by the Board of Trustees, currently set at 5%. A lump sum distribution is subject to 20% federal income tax withholding and 5% state income tax withholding. In addition, a lump sum distribution paid prior to the age of 591/2 is also subject to the 10% federal penalty. If you do withdraw contributions, you waive all claims for other benefits for the period of membership for which the withdrawal is made.
  2. Direct Rollover 
    Members who terminate service also have the option to rollover the taxable portion of their refund to another qualified retirement plan or to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Such rollovers must be approved in advance by MFPRSI. Please contact the office of the System for further information regarding your account. A direct rollover is not taxed in the current year and no income tax will be withheld. As with the lump sum distribution, you waive all claims for other benefits for the period of membership for which the withdrawal is made.
  3. Leave Dollars in the System (for vested individuals only): A vested individual, as defined, has at least four years of membership service upon termination or attain the age 55 while performing membership service. A terminated vested individual is entitled to a service retirement commencing on the member?s retirement age. The amount of the pension shall be a fraction of the pension you would have received had you retired in service. The fraction shall be 4/22 for four years of service plus 1/22 for each additional year of service up to a total of 22 years. For years of service over 22, additional credits may be earned. This retirement allowance is based on your average final compensation at the time your employment is terminated.
If I quit my job with the City, can I transfer my contributions and service credit to another retirement plan?

If you have been hired by the Highway Patrol and will be covered under the Peace Officer's Retirement System, you may be able to transfer your service credit and contributions to that System from MFPRSI. Requests for these transfers and questions concerning transfer of credit should be forwarded in writing to MFPRSI. However, contributions and service credits are not portable between MFPRSI and IPERS.

Retirement Planning

What is the Outreach Program? Do my spouse and I have to go?

The Outreach Program is a service offered to the active and retired membership of the Retirement System. The Program offers you an opportunity to meet a representative of the System, to ask questions about your retirement or about the System. While attendance is not mandatory, many members have reported it to be very helpful. You and your spouse may participate. You will receive a letter notifying you when a representative will be visiting your area. At that time, you will be provided with a contact name and phone number.

I received a notice for Outreach. However, I don’t retire for several years. Why would this be helpful to me?

Your total post-retirement income should be made up of three parts:

  1. Your Pension
  2. Social Security (if eligible)
  3. Your personal savings/investments In preparing for your retirement, it’s not too soon to start evaluating all three parts of your retirement plan. Through Outreach, the System can explain your pension benefits to you and provide you with an estimate of your benefit. This will help you determine whether your personal savings are on track for the retirement style you hope to achieve.
How does MFPRSI retirement affect Social Security?

The pension you receive based on MFPRSI covered employment may reduce your Social Security benefits, developed through other employment. There are two laws that may reduce your benefits:

Government Pension Offset 
This law applies if you receive a government pension and are eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er). For more information about this provision, contact Social Security for the Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007) fact sheet.

Windfall Elimination Provision
This law affects the way your retirement or disability benefits are figured if you receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security. Under this law, the formula used to figure your benefit amount is modified, giving you a lower Social Security benefit. For more information, you can contact the Social Security Administration: Web Site: http://www.ssa.gov Toll-Free Number: 1-800-772-1213

Service Retirement Benefit Information

Can my pension rights be taken away from me if I am no longer employed by a participating city?

No, if the member was vested at termination, the pension rights cannot be taken away. The terminated member is “vested” if they have four or more years of membership service or reach the age of 55 while performing membership service with MFPRSI. It should be noted, however, that the annual readjustment of pensions (escalation) is available only to members who served at least 22 years and attained age 55 prior to termination of service.

I just received my Service Retirement packet and have been reading about the benefit options. What are the statistics concerning the choice of options?

The selection of the Options are as follows:

  1. Basic Benefit 59%
  2. Joint and 75% Survivor Annuity
  3. 8% Joint and 100% Survivor Annuity
  4. 11% Single Life Annuity with Designated Lump Sum
  5. 3% Straight Life
  6. Annuity 12%
I'm getting ready to retire or terminate employment from the City. Where do I obtain the necessary form(s)?

MFPRSI has recently updated several of its application forms, including the Service Retirement, Disability Retirement and Distribution of Refund forms. To ensure that members receive all the necessary information as well as the most current version of the form, the Cities are no longer carrying copies of these documents. Please contact the System directly at the toll-free number 1-888-254-9200. When you contact MFPRSI for the forms package, the retirement System will offer to include a Benefit Estimate. During the phone call, the System will collect the information required to calculate an Estimate, which will provide information to the member which is necessary for them to make an informed decision concerning retirement options or a refund.

What happens to my benefit if I remarry?

If you are a spouse receiving a death benefit, your benefit will continue for your lifetime, regardless of whether you remarry. If you are a retired member, your benefit remains unchanged. However, please contact the System immediately to request a Beneficiary Designation form. Without a designation, your spouse may not have the same benefit options in the event of your death. It depends on your option.

How do I calculate the benefit eligible under a Service Retirement?

The following table can be used to calculate the percent of earned compensation a Member is eligible for under a Service Retirement: 
Years of Service Multiplier % 22 Years 66 23 Years 68 24 Years 70 25 Years 72 26 Years 74 27 Years 76 28 Years 78 29 Years 80 30 or More Years 82 If the Member has less than 22 years, the percent is calculated by dividing the years of service by 22 and multiplying by 66.0. EXAMPLE. 7 years of service is eligible for 21% of earned compensation under a Service Retirement. (7/22 x 66% = 21%)

Is my annual escalation in July based on the changes for active members?

The escalator is provided one time per year in the month of July, per Iowa code Chapter 411.6. The formula is not based on the current earnable compensation of an active member. The escalation formula is as follows: Annual Escalator: Beginning July 1, 1997 the retirees and beneficiaries benefit shall annually be adjusted by the addition of both (a) and (b): (a) previous monthly benefit multiplied by 1.5% and (b) an additional dollar amount based on the following incremental steps: $15 if retired less than five years $20 if retired at least five, but less than ten years $25 if retired at least ten, but less than fifteen years $30 if retired at least fifteen, but less than twenty years $35 if retired at least twenty years Please note that terminated vested and beneficiaries of terminated vested members are not eligible for the annual escalation.

Is the Police Chief or Fire Chief covered by Chapter 411?

Yes, Chiefs are covered under Chapter 411 unless they opt out of the 411 plan. § 411.3 (1) states, "...a police chief or a fire chief who would not complete twenty-two years of service under this chapter by the time the chief attains fifty-five years of age shall, upon written request to the system, be exempt from this chapter, and except as otherwise provided in subsection 3. Notwithstanding section 97B1A, a police chief or fire chief that is exempt from this chapter is exempt from chapter 97B".

I'm planning on retiring soon. Does the System provide insurance?

No, the System does not provide Life, Health, or Dental Insurance. However, if you currently maintain insurance through your employing City, you may elect to continue it after your retirement. Please discuss your insurance options with your Employer. According to the Federal COBRA Code, if you voluntarily resign from a job or are terminated for any reason other than "gross misconduct" you are guaranteed the right to continue your former employer's group plan as individual or family health care coverage for up to 18 months at your own expense. In many cases, your spouse and dependent children are also eligible for COBRA coverage, sometimes for as long as three years. If you intend to invest in additional insurance following your retirement, and you believe it will affect your choice of optional form of payment, please make sure you begin this process with your insurance company well in advance of your retirement. Your option choice must be made prior to your first payment with the System. Insurance company determinations may take longer than you think!

When should I contact the System concerning my anticipated retirement?

An individual considering retirement should contact the System 2 -3 months in advance of the intended retirement date. They System will contact the member, forward a retirement application and supporting forms, and will provide an estimate of benefits payable.

Why can't you give specific information to me over the phone when I ask questions about my benefit?

The System has an obligation to protect the confidential records of its membership. Only the member's name and city affiliation can be disclosed as a public record. Benefit information cannot be released over the phone since there is no way to confirm an individual's identity over the phone. The System will forward information, including dollars, in writing to the member or their designated representative. The written information is mailed to the address the System has on file for the member unless the member has instructed the System to forward the information in writing to a third party. The System cannot fax the information or mail it to another address unless the System receives written authorization with the member's signature.