Print Print
  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE II EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS
    OF THE COMMONWEALTH
  • CHAPTER 23I THE MASSACHUSETTS LIFE SCIENCES CENTER
  • Section 17 Retirement programs; election to participate; contribution

Section 17. (1)(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 32, or of any general or special law to the contrary, the center shall establish 1 or more optional retirement programs that qualify under section 401, 408 or 457 of the Internal Revenue Code, as may be amended from time to time, or contracts providing retirement and death benefits may be purchased by employees of the center who elect to participate in the program. The benefits offered to employees of the center in such optional retirement program shall be provided through such custodial accounts or individual or group annuity contracts, which may be fixed or variable in nature, or a combination thereof; provided, that at all times, those annuity contracts issued by licensed insurers under the optional retirement program shall provide the minimum values and guarantees required by the laws governing such contracts in the commonwealth; and provided, further, that the benefits shall be payable only to employees of the center in the program or their beneficiaries, and such benefits shall be paid only by the selected providers in accordance with the terms of the custodial accounts, annuity contracts or certificates providing coverage to the employee of the center; and provided, further, that such optional retirement program shall not allow an employee of the center to withdraw contributions while an active participant in the center’s optional retirement program.

(b) The center shall select at least 2 but no more than 4 providers for the optional retirement program and enter into contracts with them in accordance with the laws governing the procurement of services for executive agencies of the commonwealth, provided, further, that the selected providers shall be authorized to conduct business within the commonwealth, and each and every provider or issuer of annuity contracts under the optional retirement program which is a life insurance company shall hold a certificate of authority to do life insurance business in the commonwealth, maintain the minimum required capital and surplus required for life insurance companies under the laws of the commonwealth, be a member of the commonwealth’s life and health insurance guaranty association and be a member of the life and health insurance guaranty associations in any and all jurisdictions where required by law with similar retirement programs funded in whole or in part through the provider’s annuities in which employees of the center participating in the optional retirement program may participate upon transfer of employment; and provided, further, that said board shall coordinate the transfer of funds and information between payroll centers, the selected providers and employees of the center participating in the plan.

(2)(a) Participation in the optional retirement program provided by this section shall be limited to employees of the center who are otherwise eligible for membership in the state employees’ retirement system as established under the provisions of chapter 32.

(b) Elections to participate in the optional retirement program shall be made as follows:

(i) Any eligible employee of the center who is initially appointed on or after the effective date of the optional retirement program may elect in writing to participate in the optional retirement program within 90 days of the effective date of the appointment. Any such election shall be effective as of the effective date of appointment. If an eligible employee of the center fails to make an election as provided in this paragraph, such employee shall become a member of the state employees’ retirement system established under the provisions of said chapter 32.

(ii) Any eligible employee of the center who is a member of any retirement system established by the provisions of said chapter 32 on the effective date of the optional retirement program but who has less than 10 years of creditable service on the effective date of the optional retirement program may elect in writing to participate in the optional retirement program within 90 days after the effective date of the optional retirement program. Any such election shall become effective on the first day of the next pay period following such election, and shall constitute a waiver of all retirement benefits to which the individual may be entitled as an employee under any retirement system established under the provisions of said chapter 32.

(iii) Any employee of the center who is a member of any retirement system established by the provisions of said chapter 32 but who has less than 10 years of creditable service on the date such employee becomes eligible to participate in the optional retirement program may elect in writing to participate in such optional retirement program within 90 days of the date said employee becomes eligible. Any such election shall become effective on the first day of the next pay period following such election, and shall constitute a waiver of all retirement benefits to which the individual may be entitled as an employee under any retirement system established by the provisions of said chapter 32.

(iv) Any eligible employee of the center electing to participate in the optional retirement program shall be ineligible for membership in the state employees’ retirement system while he remains continuously employed by the center; provided, that the election by an eligible employee to participate in the optional retirement program shall be irrevocable while the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements; provided, however, that if an employee becomes ineligible to continue in the optional retirement program, the employee shall thereafter participate in the state employees’ retirement system established in accordance with the provisions of said chapter 32.

(3)(a) Any eligible employee of the center electing to participate in the optional retirement program shall not be required to make contributions to the state employee’s retirement system but shall contribute to the optional retirement program an amount equal to the contribution which would have been required had such employee been a member of the state employees’ retirement system.

(b) For each eligible employee of the center electing to participate in the optional retirement program, the center shall contribute an amount equal to 5 per cent of each employee’s regular compensation, as defined in section 1 of chapter 32, to the optional retirement program and a plan established to provide life and disability benefits to all participants in the program; provided, however, that not more than 1 per cent of said contribution shall be made to the plan established to provide said life and disability benefits; provided, further, that the balance of said contribution shall be remitted to the appropriate provider for application to the participating employee’s contract or custodial account, less any monthly fees established by the board in order to cover the reasonably necessary direct costs incurred by the board in establishing and administering the plan.

(c) If any eligible employee of the center is a member of any retirement system established by the provisions of said chapter 32 at the time such employee elects to participate in the optional retirement program, the employee may direct that the amount of the accumulated total deductions, and any interest to which the employee would be entitled under said chapter 32 if the employee withdrew from the system, credited to such employee’s account in such retirement system be transferred directly to such employee’s account in the optional retirement program. Any such transfer shall be made in the form of a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer in compliance with the requirements of subchapter D of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code.

(d) The funds accumulated under the optional retirement program shall be exempt from taxation. The rights of a participant to a custodial account, an annuity, the annuity contracts or certificates providing coverage to participants, and all right in and to the funds accumulated under the custodial accounts, annuity contracts or certificates shall be exempt from taxation, including income taxes levied under the provisions of said chapter 62. No assignment of any right in or to any funds or annuities under the optional retirement program shall be valid except such assignment as may be made for the purpose of making restitution in the case of dereliction from duty by any participant as established in section 15 of said chapter 32 if such assignment does not violate the restrictions of the Internal Revenue Code; provided that nothing in this section shall prevent a participant’s custodial account or annuity from being attached, taken on execution, assigned, or subject to other process to satisfy a support order under chapters 208, 209, or 273 if such order constitutes a qualified domestic relations order under the terms of the Internal Revenue Code.

(e) Any eligible employee of the center enrolled in the optional retirement program who retires and wishes to retain his group insurance coverage as provided in chapter 32A, or retires and wishes to enroll in group insurance coverage pursuant to said chapter 32A, may do so in the same manner, and subject to the same limitations and requirements as an active employee member of the state employees’ retirement system. Any eligible employee of the center enrolled in the optional retirement program who retains or enrolls in the group insurance coverage upon retirement shall be deemed to have authorized his optional retirement program plan provider to deduct from the retired employees account, on a monthly basis, and forward to the group insurance commission, an amount equal to the retired employee’s share of the premium as set by said chapter 32A and each annual appropriation act. Each optional retirement program plan provider shall be required to deduct and forward said premium amounts, as determined by the group insurance commission, to the group insurance commission in advance of the month for which the premium is due and in a manner as may be prescribed by the group insurance commission. For group insurance commission purposes employees who were members of the state retirement system when they became eligible to participate in the optional retirement program, and who then enrolled in the optional retirement program, may add their time in the state retirement system to their time in the optional retirement program in determining years of creditable service.

(f) No contribution shall be made under any provision of this section in excess of, or on the basis of compensation in excess of, any limitation that may be imposed pursuant to federal law including, but not limited to, the limitations in 26 U.S.C. sections 401(a)(17), 402(g), 403(b) and 415, to the extent such limitations apply. The center may adopt rules and regulations as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section including, but not limited to, rules or regulations establishing such limitations only when it determines that such limitations are necessary to comply with applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.