Pension Benefits

Pension Payment Options

The CRS offers a variety of payment options that give you the flexibility to select the kind of payments that best fit your circumstances and retirement needs. A regular or whole life option provides a monthly pension benefit paid to you during your lifetime only.

There are four additional payment options are available that provide a reduced benefit to you during your lifetime, but provide income to your spouse or designated optionee for the duration of their lifetime in the event of your death.

If you are married, you must select one of the four options described below unless your spouse completes and signs a "Spousal Waiver of Joint and Survivor Annuity" that would permit you to choose the regular option or a different optionee.  

  • Option 1 - 100% Joint and Survivor Payment: In the event you die first, your surviving spouse or designated optionee receives 100% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of his or her lifetime.
  • Option 2 - 50% Joint And Survivor Payment: In the event you die first, your surviving spouse or designated optionee receives 50% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of his or her life.
  • Option 3 - 66 2/3% Joint and Survivor Payment: In the event you die first, your surviving spouse or designated optionee receives 66 2/3% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of his or her lifetime. If your spouse or designated optionee should die before you, you would receive 66 2/3% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of your life.
  • Option 4 - 80% Joint And Survivor Payment: In the event you die first, this option provides your surviving spouse or designated optionee with 80% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of his or her lifetime. If your spouse or designated optionee dies first, you receive 80% of the reduced benefit for the remainder of your life.

Early Retirement

Until January 1, 2014, employees may choose to retire early under 1 of 2 available eligibility standards: Age 55 with a minimum of 25 years service credit OR Age 57 with a minimum of 15 years service credit.  After January 1, 2014, early retirement will only be available for employees who are 57 years of age with a minimum of 15 years service credit.  There is a substantial reduction in monthly pension benefits paid to those members who elect early retirement.

Death Benefits

You should review and update your Beneficiary Designations annually. Life happens quickly, such as marriage, divorce, births and deaths, etc. Make certain you update any changes in designated beneficiaries with CRS. Please remember that the beneficiary forms for the Cincinnati Retirement System are different from the beneficiary forms used for employer provided life insurance benefits administered by the City’s Risk Management Division. Beneficiary Change forms are available in the CRS Office, City Hall, 801 Plum Street, Room 240.

Active Members with Spouse and/or Dependents

 

Refund of Contributions for Active Members with Spouse and/or Dependents

If you die in service, your designated primary beneficiary(ies) is eligible to receive a refund of your accumulated CRS contributions (member contributions ONLY) plus any accumulated interest payable.  Federal taxes will be withheld from this particular payment (20% withholding if the beneficiary is the member’s spouse; 10% withholding if the beneficiary is anyone else). The tax liability for the refund of contributions paid is the responsibility of the recipient. 

Refund of Contributions for Active Members without Spouse and/or Dependents

If you die in service, your designated primary beneficiary is eligible to receive a refund of your accumulated CRS contributions (member contributions ONLY) plus any accumulated interest payable.  Federal taxes will be withheld from this particular payment (10% withholding). The tax liability for the refund of contributions paid is the responsibility of the recipient. 

Survivor Benefits

IF you have at least 18 months of service credit at the time of your death, the CRS provides Survivor Benefits to your legally married spouse and/or eligible dependents in the event you die in service as an active employee of City of Cincinnati. An eligible dependent is defined as the member’s naturally born or legally adopted child(ren) under the age of 18 years and unmarried.  Additional information regarding Survivor Benefits is available from the CRS Office.


Spousal 20-Year Service Credit Provision

If you die in service as an active employee of the City of Cincinnati and have at least 20 years service credit, your legally married spouse* could choose to receive a monthly pension benefit (calculated under Option 1 only per CMC 203.63)  at the earlier of:

1. the 1st day of the month following your 60th birthday; OR
2. the 1st day of the month following the date you would have reached 30 years of service had you not died; OR
3. the 1st day of the month following the date of your death IF you were already eligible to retire on or before the day you died.

*In order to be eligible for this benefit, the member’s legally married spouse MUST be designated as the member’s SOLE PRIMARY BENEFICIARY on the Beneficiary form on file in the CRS Office prior to the member’s death.

Retired Members

Retirees who retired on or before July 1, 2011 are eligible for a burial benefit. The CRS will pay the designated beneficiary of the deceased retiree a one time burial benefit of $5,000. Death Benefit payment for retirees may take 60 to 90 days to process. The death benefit paid for a deceased CRS retiree is taxable for federal and state income tax purposes.  Federal taxes will be withheld from this particular payment (20% withholding if the beneficiary is the member’s spouse; 10% withholding if the beneficiary is anyone else). The tax liability for the death benefit paid is the responsibility of the recipient. 

Separation From Employment Service

A member who resigns or is terminated from employment with the City of Cincinnati for any reason, prior to retirement eligibility, is entitled to a refund of their employee pension contributions plus interest of 2% for funds held one year or more. In accordance with federal law, 20% of the refund will be withheld for federal taxes before any other payments are made from the refund.  Any unpaid loan balance will be deducted from the refund and is subject to the 20% tax. Any outstanding Court ordered payments against the member will be deducted from the amount of the refund and paid to the appropriate governmental agency.

Instead of a cash refund, you may request a direct transfer of your account balance (less any outstanding loan balance or outstanding court ordered payments) to an established qualified retirement plan, such as a 457 Deferred Compensation plan, a 401(K), or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Documentation of that established qualified account must be submitted by the member’s qualified plan administrator. 

If you have 5 years or more service credit with the City of Cincinnati Retirement System at the time you leave City service and wish to withdraw your pension contributions, you must complete, sign, and have notarized a Retirement Benefit Waiver form waiving your rights to any future benefits from the Cincinnati Retirement System. If you withdraw your contributions from the Cincinnati Retirement System, you will NOT be entitled to a pension upon reaching retirement eligibility.

Applications for refund of pension contributions (including rollovers to a qualified plan) are available at the Retirement Department located in Room 240 of Cincinnati City Hall. These applications cannot be processed until the employee has been terminated in the City’s personnel and payroll system for at least 30 days.

Once submitted, a member’s application for a refund of contributions is irrevocable. Payment of refunded contributions may take 90 to 120 days from the employee’s termination in the City personnel and payroll system.

Pension Limitations

Your pension benefit is limited by Section 203-33 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code that does not allow the retirement allowance to exceed 90% of the member’s Final Average Salary. Pension benefits paid to retired members are also limited by the provisions of the United States Internal Revenue Code Section 415 (d) as required by the Cincinnati Municipal Code 203.123.