Life Changes and Your Retirement Plan

Life Changes and Your Retirement Plan

Whether you take a sabbatical or a leave of absence, get a divorce or become disabled, significant changes in your life may have an impact on your MIT Pension Plan benefits.

If You Take a Leave of Absence

A leave of absence and return from leave of absence must be closely coordinated between you, your Human Resources Officer, and a member of the Benefits Office. Please contact a member of the Benefits Office at least 30 days in advance of a paid or unpaid leave of absence.

Paid Leave: If you take a paid leave of absence, Pension Plan benefit accruals will continue as usual. You are considered Benefits Eligible while on Paid Leave.

Unpaid Leave: If you take an unpaid leave of absence, you will not earn Pension Plan benefits accruals as you will have no pay. The retirement benefits you have earned up to that point will not be affected.

Return from Unpaid Leave: You will resume earning benefit accruals automatically when you return to a benefits eligible status.

If You Become Disabled

You continue to earn Pension Plan benefit accruals if you become disabled and you start receiving benefits from MIT's Long-Term Disability (LTD) Plan. You stop earning Pension Plan benefit accruals when you reach normal Social Security retirement age or you are no longer disabled and do not return to a benefits eligible status. A special schedule exists for those who become disabled after attaining age 61.

If You Divorce

The benefit you receive from the Pension Plan may change if a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) stipulates that your former spouse is to receive all or part of your retirement benefits. A QDRO is a court order instructing a retirement plan to make certain payments to a spouse, former spouse, or dependent, often referred to as an "Alternate Payee". In effect, the QDRO is a set of instructions from the court to the retirement plan.

MIT's Benefits Office does not provide consultation, guidance or information about QDROs.

Under the terms of a QDRO, MIT may be required to:

  • transfer all or part of your retirement benefit to your spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent as part of a divorce property settlement
  • use all or part of your benefit to satisfy your child support obligations.

For all questions, inquiries and requests for information about obtaining a QDRO, please contact QDRO consultants directly (800) 527-8481 ext. 135 and identify yourself as an MIT current or former employee or spouse of a current or former MIT employee.

If You Die

The value and distribution of your Pension Plan benefits at the time of your death depend on whether you have begun receiving benefit payments before your death.

If you die before receiving benefit payments

  • The full value of your Pension Plan benefit belongs to your beneficiary(ies), if you die before receiving any payments. The legal relationship between you and your beneficiary may affect how your benefit is distributed. If you are married, your spouse will be your sole beneficiary unless you designate another person as your beneficiary (your spouse must consent in writing to the designation of another person as beneficiary).
  • Your spouse may choose either a single lump sum payment or monthly lifetime income (annuity) payments.

If you die after you begin receiving benefit payments

If you are receiving monthly lifetime income (annuity) payments at the time of your death, a death benefit will be paid to your beneficiary only if your chosen form of annuity provides a surviving annuity payment If you elected a lump sum payment option, no further benefits are payable.

Domestic partners

Complete beneficiary designation forms for the MIT Pension Plan to ensure your partner is your named beneficiary in the event of your death. Please keep in mind that while you may be legally married to a domestic partner in the state of Massachusetts, the IRS does not recognize you as married. As a result, the tax consequences associated with receiving death benefits as described above and throughout this site may differ depending on your circumstances. You should consult a tax professional for guidance on your particular tax situation.

Learn More

Visit the Life Events section of this website for further information on how changes in your life can affect your benefits.