Recently, it has come to our attention that many individuals aside from Public Safety Officers utilize this website as a reference guide for the various pension systems available to individuals employed by municipalities, counties, and the New Jersey state government. As such, this entry will focus upon a few of these pension systems and help our readers understand their background, membrship, and administration.

Overview of the Various Pension Systems

Public Employees Retirement System

The State of New Jersey established the Public Employees Retirement System (“PERS”) in 1955 after repeal of the laws that created the former State Employees Retirement System. Like the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative functions of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.

The PERS Board of Trustees has the responsibility for the proper operation of the retirement system. The Board consists of six (6) employee representatives, the State Treasurer, and two (2) individuals appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate. The Board meets monthly to conduct its business. 

Membership in the retirement system is generally required as a condition of employment for most employees of the State or any county, municipality, school district, or public agency. Generally, an employee is required to enroll in PERS if:

·         They are employed on a regular basis in a position covered by Social Security;

·         Their annual salary is $1,500.00 or more; and

·         They are not required to be a member of any other State or local government retirement system on the basis of the same position which gives them membership in PERS.

Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund

The Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (“TPAF”) was established in 1919 and completely reorganized in 1955. The New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative function of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.


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              Recently, there has been much concern over new Department of Treasury regulations promulgated by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and their effect upon State legislated pension systems for public employees. This entry summarizes the new regulations and their potential impact on the members of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”). After conducting research and for the reasons set forth in detail below, it our belief the new Treasury Regulations will not alter the ability of a PFRS member to retire under any existing PFRS law, including the special retirement provision allowing retirement prior to attaining the age of 50. 

 

By way of background, the New Jersey State PBA reported that the IRS adopted regulations that would prohibit any public safety officer in a state legislated pension system from retiring before the age of 50. As most public safety officers are aware, there is currently no minimum retirement age for a member of PFRS to qualify for a pension. In fact, all that is needed to qualify for a PFRS pension is twenty-five (25) years of service and retirement credits paid into the system. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 43:16A-11.1, entitled “Special Retirement; resignation with 25 years of creditable service; allowance; death benefit”, provides in pertinent part:

 

Should a member resign after having established 25 years of creditable service, he may elect “special retirement,” provided, that such election is communicated by such member to the retirement system by filing a written application, duly attested, stating at what time subsequent

to the execution and filing thereof he desires to be retired…

 

[N.J.S.A. 43:16A-11.1(a).]   

   

Treasury Regulation §1.401(a)-1 was recently modified. The modifications require qualified pension plans to revise the definition of normal retirement age to an age that is not earlier than the earliest age that is reasonably representative of the typical retirement age for the industry in which the covered workforce is employed. In addition, the regulations provide that a normal retirement age of at least 62 is deemed to be not earlier than the typical retirement age for the industry in which the covered workforce is employed. Thus, a plan satisfies this provision if its normal retirement age is age 62, or if its normal retirement age is the later than age 62 or another specified date, such as the later of age 62 or the fifth anniversary of plan participation. This is known as the “safe harbor” provision. 


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During the course of a public safety officer’s career, many uniformed employees become injured and disabled on the job. If a public safety officer is unable to continue his or her employment as a result of the injury, they are often left with no choice but to medically retire. The Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), is