Distribution Options

This section describes the Distribution Options of the MIT Pension Plan for MIT faculty and staff hired before July 2, 2012. (See distribution options for employees hired on or after July 2, 2012.)

Your Distribution Options

  • If the total value of your Pension Plan benefit is less than $1,000, you must receive the entire value in a single lump-sum payment, which you which you may roll over into an individual retirement account (IRA) or other qualified retirement plan.
  • For participants who terminate employment on or after August 1, 2011, if the total value of your Pension Plan benefit is $5,000 or less but more than $1,000, you must receive the entire value as a single lump-sum payment. You may roll over this amount into an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. You must formally consent to receive this distribution.
  • On or after August 1, 2011, in the case of a pre-retirement death benefit, if the total value of your Pension Plan benefit upon your death is $5,000 or less, your beneficiary must receive the entire value as a single lump-sum payment. Your beneficiary(s) will not need to consent to receive this distribution.
    • A spouse recognized under federal tax code has the option of rolling over a lump sum death benefit into another qualified plan or a rollover IRA.
    • Under federal law, a same gender spouse/domestic partner can only roll over the lump sum payment into an inherited IRA.

Before retirement, contact the MIT Benefits Office to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a Retirement Counselor. You may obtain a Pension Plan benefit calculation by accessing PensionConnect.

Single lump-sum payment

Eligibility
  • Lump sums paid before July 2, 2012

    If the cash balance account of your Pension Plan benefit is $10,000 or less or you have been an MIT employee for 10 years or fewer, you may choose either a single lump-sum payment or a lifetime pension.

    If the cash balance account of your Pension Plan benefit is more than $10,000 and you have been an MIT employee for longer than 10 years, you will receive a monthly lifetime pension

  • Lump sums paid on or after July 2, 2012

    If the cash balance account of your Pension Plan benefit is $75,000 or less or you have been an MIT employee for 15 years or fewer, you may choose either a single lump-sum payment or a monthly lifetime pension.

    If the cash balance account of your Pension Plan benefit is more than $75,000 and you have been an MIT employee for longer than 15 years, you will receive a monthly lifetime pension.

If you are eligible for a lump sum option, you receive the entire current value of your benefit in a single payment. MIT uses IRS required assumptions with respect to current interest rates and average life expectancy to calculate the present value of your benefit. If you are married when you receive your lump-sum payment, your spouse must consent in writing to your selection of this option.

Monthly lifetime income pension payments

Under these options, you receive monthly pension payments for as long as you live. You may specify that these payments continue to be paid to your survivor after your death (referred to as joint life annuity payments), or you may specify that these payments end upon your death (referred to as single life annuity payments). You must select only one of these options before your payment begins.

If you choose to have payments end upon your death (single life annuity):
  • You will receive the largest possible monthly payments under this option because no payments will be made to your survivors.
  • If you are married when your payments begin, your spouse must consent in writing to your selection of this option.
If you choose to have payments continue to your survivor upon your death (joint life annuity):
  • You will receive monthly payments as long as you live.
  • If you are married when your payments begin, you must specify that your spouse receive at least 50% of the monthly amount you receive during your life unless your spouse consents in writing to the selection of the option.
  • The amount of the payments you receive will be reduced to reflect the value of benefits that may be payable to your survivor.
  • After your death, the survivor you designated (also referred to as your contingent annuitant) will receive monthly lifetime payments until his or her death.

Period certain options

If you select either a single life annuity or a joint life annuity, you may add an option that continues payments for a minimum number of years. This minimum payment period, known as a period certain, may not exceed your life expectancy (or the joint life expectancy of you and your joint annuitant).

The period certain option is available in 5, 10, 15 and 20 year periods and can be likened to an insurance policy of sorts. The period certain can be added to any one of the benefit options available under the MIT Basic Retirement Plan, e.g., 50%, 66 2/3%, 75% and 100% Contingent Annuities or the Single Life Annuity. It's a "guarantee" that in the event of the participant's death, within the elected Period Certain, that the benefit will continue to be made payable to the beneficiary until the end of that Period Certain.

Example: A participant elects the "50% contingent Annuity option with a 20 year Certain Period" and unfortunately passes away after receiving his benefit for 5 years. His spouse would then receive the participant's monthly benefit for the remaining 15 years of the Period Certain. After the 15 years, the spouse's benefit decreases to 50%. However, if she passes away after receiving this benefit for only 5 years, the remaining 10 years of the Period Certain would then go to the beneficiaries on file. In this case, the children are the designated beneficiaries and the remaining benefit is to be divided equally among them for the remaining 10 years, after which there is no further benefit.

If you are married when benefit payments begin, your spouse must consent in writing to your election of this option. This option will reduce the amount of your monthly lifetime pension payment.

How your payments are taxed

Your monthly retirement payments are taxed when you receive them. If you are eligible and elect a single lump-sum payment payable to you:

  • the full amount is taxable as regular income when you receive it. You are also generally subject to a 10% penalty if you are under age 59½ (exceptions to this penalty are outlined on the tax topics part of the IRS website).

If you roll over your lump-sum payment into another qualified retirement plan or traditional IRA, it is a non-taxable event and the payment is subject to the rules governing that plan.

If you do not roll over your lump-sum payment to the MIT Supplemental 401(k) Plan, an IRA, or other qualifying retirement plan:

  • MIT automatically withholds 20% of the lump-sum payment, and that amount is applied to the federal income taxes you will owe.
  • If you are a Massachusetts resident when you receive the lump-sum payment, MIT will also withhold state income taxes.
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