National Association of State Retirement Administrators

Massachusetts

Major public retirement systems in Massachusetts include the Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board (TRB).

The Massachusetts SERS administers pension and other benefits to nearly all state employees excluding Boston, which maintains its own system. The Massachusetts TRB administers pension benefits to public school teachers and other certified employees in the state (excluding Boston).

The Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission oversees SERS and the other public retirement systems in the state. Assets are managed by the Pension Investment Reserves Management Board (PRIM) whose nine members include the state treasurer, the governor or his or her designee, elected representatives of the state employees and teachers retirement systems, and elected board members from the SERS and TRS.

Authorizing Statutes

Chapter 32 of the Laws of Massachusetts establish the state and local retirement systems. According to Section 2,

Section 2. The state employees' retirement system, the teachers' retirement system and all county, city and town contributory retirement systems, established under the provisions of this chapter, as existing on December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and forty-five, shall, subject to the provisions of sections one to twenty-eight inclusive, continue in operation with all the rights, properties, privileges and powers and subject to all the duties and liabilities accrued or potential now existing or hereafter created or granted. Subject to said sections, all rights and interests of any employee, beneficiary or member in any such system or in the assets thereof or in or to any annuity, pension or retirement allowance in effect on December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and forty-five, are hereby continued in full force. Each such system shall comprise the members, beneficiaries, officers, employees and, subject to said sections, properties which now or hereafter from time to time belong to it, and shall have all the powers necessary to effectuate the provisions of said sections.

Board Composition

Plan

Board Size

Appointed

Elected

Plan Members

Ex Officio

Massachusetts Teachers Retirement Board

7

2

2

3

3

Contributions

Per the U.S. Census, in FY 2011, employer contributions to Massachusetts government pension plans were 4.62 percent of all state and local government direct general spending.

Constitutional Protections

No explicit constitutional protection for public pension benefits, but courts recognize statutory protection for contractual pension rights. See Opinion of the Justices, 303 N.E.2d 320 (1973)(holding that the government may not deprive members of the "core of reasonable expectations" that they had when they entered the retirement system); Madden v. Contributory Retirement Appeal Bd., 729 N.E.2d 1095 (Mass. 2000)(state may not deprive members of the core of reasonable expectations that they had when they entered the retirement system; this does not preclude modifications to the retirement scheme, but such modifications must be reasonable and bear some material relationship to the theory of a pension system and its successful operation). (MAST 32 §25) Source: Robert Klausner, Esq., State Constitutional Protections for Public Sector Retirement Benefits

Flag of Massachusetts (March 21, 1971)

Population (2015) 6,794,422

Massachusetts public pension statistics, per U.S. Census Bureau as of FY 2015 ($ in 000s)

Assets

$74,458,401

Active Members

314,756

Annuitants

218,414

Benefits Paid

$6,555,354

Employee Contributions

$1,968,873

Employer Contributions

$3,160,848

Systems

106

More Data