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Retirement Essentials: When Do I Get Paid?

By Kim Beck, ASRS Senior Benefit Advisor, Tucson office

Everyone looks forward to payday, right? You know it will happen every two weeks and you count on that, like clockwork. But what happens when you retire? 

We strive to process retirement applications as quickly as we can – the ASRS processes about 8,600 applications a year. The busiest months are March, April and May, when there’s generally a surge in retirement applications from teachers.

The good news for most members, as their retirement date arrives, is that the ASRS provides monthly income while the retirement benefit is completely processed. This advance of retirement pay, known as an “estimate check,” will most often be received within 10 days or less of your retirement date. If necessary, while the application is being processed, a member can receive up to three estimate checks, ensuring a steady income stream throughout the process.

It can take up to 90 days to completely process a retirement application and arrive at the final lifetime monthly benefit. That’s often due to lagging contributions coming in from the employer, or processing of service purchase options.

This final calculation is dependent on the receipt of a required Ending Payroll Verification form from each of the member’s ASRS employers within the last three years before the retirement date. On the retirement date, the electronic form is sent by the ASRS to the employer who then sends it back within 10 business days. Delays rarely occur with this form, but if it isn’t received on time, the ASRS will remind the member to work with his/her employer(s) on expediting the form to the ASRS. This is how the ASRS identifies that the contributions have stopped, which allows for finalizing the member’s service and salary – the two primary factors used in determining the final pension amount.

Sometimes complex pension calculations can cause delays in processing. This is why estimate checks are so helpful to our members. After that first estimate check within 10 business days, the second or third checks, if applicable, are issued within 10 business days of the first of the month.

Exceptions to receiving an estimate check include:

    • A legal hold, most commonly due to a divorce
    • A member’s age - someone who is younger than 50 or older than 70½ who may have unique tax consequences
    • Re-retirement
    • Lump sum retirement

Once the final retirement benefit is calculated and processed, retirees will receive a monthly payment for the rest of their life. Most people may be used to getting two paychecks a month during their careers. Adjusting your budgeting to receiving one monthly payment from the ASRS is important for retirees to ensure steady payment of debts such as the mortgage, insurance or other household bills.

ASRS pension payment will arrive on the first of each month and a list of monthly direct deposit dates is posted on the ASRS website. Using direct deposit into a checking or savings account is the safest, most convenient way to receive your payment.  A list of monthly direct deposit dates is posted on our website. Retirees can also access their direct deposit summary statements each month in their secure myASRS account.

Also noteworthy is that the only usual deductions from the payment to consider will be taxes based on personal withholding choices, and if selected, ASRS group health insurance premiums.  

Everyone looks forward to a secure, comfortable retirement and now because we're living longer, healthier lives, that means more reasons to plan. Getting paid doesn’t have to be a mystery and can remain one of the joys of working life, even in retirement.

To learn more, including direct deposit dates, see Benefit Payments.

RETIREMENT CENTRAL

For complete information on retirement, including our online retirement application, be sure to visit Retirement Central

This article appeared in "Expanding Your Financial Horizons" (Q2-2016), a digital publication of the ASRS.

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