Checklist: How to Apply for Retirement & Claim Your Pension in New Jersey
Planning for retirement can be very exciting. Are you going to spend some extra time with family, take up gardening or do some meaningful work in a part-time role? Whatever your plan, being properly prepared will ensure you enjoy every minute of retirement.
Before you can officially retire in New Jersey, you’ll want to make sure you have properly applied for retirement and reviewed all of your pension and benefit options. The actual processing of your benefits will vary and cannot begin until the Division of Pensions and Benefits receives all the necessary information and forms from both you and your employer. Overlooking a necessary step, or not sending in the right information can cause your retirement to become unexpectedly delayed.
Use this retirement checklist and timeframes as a guide to make sure all of your applications are submitted timely and to ensure your benefits are properly processed to start your retirement.
6-8 Months Prior to Retirement Start Date – Obtain Your Retirement Estimate
- Get an estimate of your retirement benefits using the Member Benefits Online System (MBOS).
Once you are within 2 years of retirement in New Jersey, you’ll need to get an estimate of your retirement benefits using the Member Benefits Online System (MBOS). MBOS is online platform that allows registered members to access information about their pension.
To begin the registration process, go to:
- (select “Online Member Services – MBOS”).
If you would prefer to hear an estimate of your retirement benefits over the phone, you can call the Division of Pensions and Benefits’ Automated Information System at (609) 292-7524.
4-6 Months Prior to Retirement Start Date – Officially Apply for Retirement Online Using the Member Benefits Online System
- Apply for retirement online using the Member Benefits Online System at least 4-6 months in advance. Paper applications are no longer accepted.
- Make sure the Division of Pensions and Benefits has proof of your age/date of birth.
- Ask your employer to submit a Certification of Service and Final Salary.
- All additional forms must be submitted within 90 days of your submitted your application.
When applying for retirement in New Jersey, it’s recommended you file at least 4 to 6 months in advance. The earliest you can apply is one year prior to your official retirement date.
Your official retirement application must be submitted online using the Member Benefits Online System. Paper applications are no longer accepted.
Important Notice: Your retirement application will not be processed until the Division of Pensions and Benefits receives the required copies of birth date evidence.
Acceptable methods for proving your age include:
- Birth certificate (with visible seal)
- A U.S. Passport Card
- A current digital New Jersey Driver License or Digital Non-driver ID Card issued by the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission
- A current digital Pennsylvania or New York Driver license
- Naturalization or immigration papers
Registered members may already have their proof of age is on file with MBOS. If you don’t already have proof of age on file, you need to mail a photocopy of your birth certificate, or other proof of age document, to the Retirement Bureau, Division of Pensions and Benefits, PO Box 295, Trenton, NJ 08625-0295.
Finally, ask your current employer to submit a Certification of Service and Final Salary to the Division of Pensions and Benefits.
Important Notice: It’s your responsibility to make sure that all forms are submitted within 90 days of the Division of Pensions and Benefits receiving your online retirement application. Otherwise, your retirement application will be canceled and you will need to submit another online application for a future retirement date.
You will receive a letter from the Division of Pensions and Benefits acknowledging that they have received your retirement application.
Approximately 3 Months Prior to Retirement Start Date – Enroll in a Health Benefits Program
- You will receive a letter in the mail to enroll in a health benefits program.
- Some state employees are automatically enrolled.
- Most state employees will need to submit an application to enroll.
If you’re eligible for State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) or School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) retired group coverage, you will receive a letter approximately three months before your retirement date offering you enrollment.
When you receive your letter, it will indicate if you are required to submit an application to enroll in the health benefits program. Some New Jersey State employees will be automatically enrolled and only need to submit an application if they wish to change medical and/or dental plans. However, for most state employees, enrollment as a retiree in the SHBP or SEHBP is not automatic and must submit a health benefits application to enroll.
If you’re not covered by the SHBP or the SEHBP, contact your employer about your options for continuing your health benefits coverage.
Approximately 1 Month Prior to Retirement Start Date – Board of Trustees Will Approve Your Retirement
- You will receive a letter in the mail once the Board of Trustees has approved your retirement.
- You have 30 days from the board approval date or 30 days from your effective retirement date to change or cancel your retirement.
- Any changes to your retirement must be approved by the Board of Trustees again.
One of the final steps before your retirement begins is having your retirement presented to the Board of Trustees for approval. Once it has been approved, you will receive a board approval letter in the mail.
If you need to change your retirement date and/or your option selection, you will have 30 days from the board approval date or 30 days from your effective retirement date (whichever is later) to make these changes.
If any changes are made after your retirement has already been approved by the board, your new selection must be approved by the Board of Trustees again. Doing this may delay your first retirement benefits payment.
Immediately Prior To Retirement Start Date – Receive Your Quotation of Retirement Benefits in the Mail
- Expect your Quotation of Retirement Benefits letter to arrive via the USPS.
- If you have an outstanding pension loan, you will need to decide how you want to pay off the remaining balance.
- If you have any outstanding payments or shortages, they must be paid before your retirement check can be issued to you.
In the days leading up to your retirement date, you will receive a Quotation of Retirement Benefits letter in the mail which will outline your monthly retirement allowance with:
- The option you selected
- A quote and repayment options for any outstanding pension loan balances.
- A quote or any outstanding arrears (purchase) balance and/or shortages.
If you’re retiring with an outstanding balance on a pension loan, you will need to decide how to want to repay the remaining balance. Your options are:
- Pay off the entire loan before to receiving any of your benefits.
- Continue to make your monthly payments on the loan until the balance, plus interest has been repaid.
If you have any outstanding payments or shortages, they must be paid before your retirement check can be issued to you. You have 90 days to respond to these issues, otherwise, your retirement benefits will be delayed and it could cause your retirement to be canceled.
What to Expect After Your Official Retirement Date
- Expect your Statement of Retirement Allowance letter to arrive via the USPS.
- Your first retirement payment check will be issued 30 days following your retirement, or, 30 days following approval of your retirement by the Board of Trustees.
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the retirement process and have arrived to your official retirement date!
In the days following your official retirement date, you will receive a letter, the Statement of Retirement Allowance, which confirms your retirement and death benefits. Keep this letter along with your other important documents and papers, as it also provides the figures you need to fill in your income tax return.
The arrival of Your First Retirement Payment Check
Your first retirement payment check will be issued 30 days following your retirement, or, 30 days following approval of your retirement by the Board of Trustees, whichever is later. If processing or approval of your retirement is delayed, your first check will be retroactive to the date of your retirement.
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