Understanding Your Future Benefit

While the ASRS offers a variety of benefits for members, our primary focus is providing members with a retirement benefit. There are a few different ways you can choose to receive that benefit once you've hit retirement eligibility - those choices are called your retirement annuity options. While it can seem overwhelming at first glance, our options fall into three distinct categories, each helping to accomplish different retirement goals. To help narrow down your choices, just ask yourself which of these three phrases best fits what you would like to accomplish in retirement:

1. “I want to receive the maximum monthly amount possible and don’t need to worry about providing money for a beneficiary.”

If this is your goal, then Straight Life Annuity (SLA) is the option you are looking for. It provides the most money you can receive each month, but it does not guarantee any benefits to your survivors after your death. 

NOTE: This option is only available to married members if their spouse has waived their rights as a beneficiary via the Spousal Consent form. Otherwise, members who are married are required to name their spouse as a beneficiary and select a 50% or more joint-and-survivor annuity option. 

2. “I want to make sure my beneficiary continues to receive all or a portion of my pension for the remainder of their lifetime.”

If you want to make sure your beneficiaries receive a payment for the remainder of their life, consider a Joint and Survivor Annuity. If you elect one of these options, you will receive a reduced monthly benefit upon retirement for the remainder of your life, after which your beneficiary will then receive a benefit for the rest of their life. You can choose to provide your beneficiary with 100%, 66 2/3%, or 50% of your benefit. The higher the percentage you leave your beneficiary, the lower your own monthly benefit will be. Age restrictions do apply for the 100% and 66-2/3% options, but not for the 50% Joint and Survivor option.

3. “I want to leave money for my beneficiary, but only for a set period of time.” 

If you wish to leave money for your beneficiaries for a defined amount of time, you will want to consider the Term Certain annuities. Term Certain annuities offer three options: 5-Year, 10-Year, and 15-Year. If you elect one of these options, you will receive a reduced monthly benefit upon retirement for the period of time selected, after which you’ll be converted to a Straight Life Annuity and your benefit payments will automatically be adjusted. If your death occurs before the end of your chosen time period, benefit payments will continue to your beneficiary until the designated time period has been achieved. At that point, your beneficiary would then stop receiving any payments.

For more information about any of the above retirement annuity options, please visit the Retirement Annuity Options page.

To view a personalized estimate of any of the above options, log into your secure myASRS account! Once logged in, click on the "retirement" option from the left-hand Your Benefit Estimates menu. Once there, you'll be able to see Straight Life Annuity retirement estimates for normal retirement, early retirement, or your own custom retirement date. If you click on any of the "more options" buttons, you'll be able to customize these estimates further by looking at the impact of choosing a Term Certain or Joint And Survivor annuity option. 

by Nathaniel Brengle, Strategic Communications

Updated 3/13/23

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