Where is the Pension Office located?

The Pension Plans Administration is a division of the Office of the City Auditor & Clerk located at:
City of Sarasota, City Hall
1565 First Street, Room 110
Sarasota, Florida 34236

What is the contact information for its staff?

Harry Ramphal Harry.Ramphal@sarasotagov.com
Pension Plans Administrator (941)954-2600

Anthony Ferrer Anthony.Ferrer@sarasotagov.com
Pension Analyst (941)954-4141

Chinyere Deehan Chinyere.Deehan@sarasotagov.com
Administrative Specialist (941)954-4141

How do I update my beneficiary, if I am an active employee?

Click here for the Active Members Beneficiary Form. Please send this form through interoffice mail to Pension Office or mail directly to City Hall, 1565 First Street, Room 110 Sarasota, Florida 34236

When am I vested in the plan?

A member is vested at the completion of 10 years of credited service.

What are the Early Retirement criteria?

A member is eligible for early retirement after attaining age 55 with a minimum of 10 years of service.

What are the Normal Retirement criteria?

A member is eligible for normal retirement after 30 years of credited service, regardless of age or after attaining age 65 with a minimum of 10 years of service.

What are the forms of benefit available to me?

  • The Lifetime Option is a benefit paid for the life of the retiree and no survivor benefit will be paid after your death.
  • The Pop Up Option provides a monthly benefit for the lifetime of the retiree and, upon the death of the retiree, the payment continues to the joint annuitant for the rest of their life. The monthly benefit the joint annuitant receives is 50%, 67%, 75%, or 100% of the retirees benefit- depending on the election made at the time of retirement. However, if the joint annuitant predeceases the retiree, the monthly benefit will pop-up to the Lifetime Option amount for the rest of the retiree’s life. The Joint Annuitant cannot be changed.
  • The Option to Change Joint Annuitant provides the retiree with a monthly benefit for the rest of their lifetime and, upon your death, the payment continues to the joint annuitant for the rest of their life. The monthly benefit the joint annuitant receives is 50%, 67%, 75%, or 100% of the retiree’s benefit - depending on the election made at the time of retirement. The joint annuitant can be changed twice and the amount of the benefit will be recalculated based on the age of the new joint annuitant.
  • The Guaranteed Period Annuity provides a monthly benefit that is paid to the retiree for their lifetime. If the retiree dies before 10 or 15 years from the date of retirement, the benefits continue to the surviving beneficiary for the balance of the 10 or 15 year period. If the retiree lives beyond the 10 or 15 year period, no benefits will be paid to the surviving beneficiary upon the death of the retiree.
  • The Lump Sum payment is equal to the actuarial value of the member’s accrued benefit. This represents a full discharge of all rights accumulated under the Pension Plan.

How did the General Employees’ Plan changes in 2011 impact how benefits are calculated?

Click here for an explanation of the changes effective as of December 28, 2011.

How do I determine what my pension benefits will be?

Contact the pension office at (941) 954-2600 or (941) 954-4141 for a calculation of your benefit.

What happens if I take my benefit as a lump sum payment?

By accepting your pension benefit in a lump sum distribution, you waive, release and relinquish any other rights and benefits under the City of Sarasota General Employees’ Pension Plan. You also relinquish rights to any medical benefits to which you may have been entitled.

If I am not vested and I terminate employment, what happens to my contributions?

When you terminate employment and you are not vested, you may leave your contributions on deposit for up to five years, however your contributions will earn no additional interest. After you terminate, you may choose to receive a refund of your contributions plus any interest earned through your termination date.

Can I change my beneficiary once I am retired?

You can only change the beneficiary once you have retired if you elect a form of benefit that allows the change.

What happens if I die before my retirement?

Beneficiaries of members who die before retirement with less than 10 years of service are not entitled to death benefits. They are entitled to a lump sum equal to the deceased participant’s employee contributions plus interest.

Beneficiaries of members who die before retirement with 10 or more years of credited service are entitled to a monthly pension actuarially determined for the life of the beneficiary. The pension is based on an amount equal to 100% of the present value of the member’s accrued benefit, or the return of the member’s accumulated contributions, whichever is greater. The lump sum option is available.

When do I file for my retirement?

To ensure that pension benefits are received on time, an application should be filed with the Pension Office at least 60 days before retirement. All forms may be obtained from the Pension Office or on the forms link.

Am I eligible for the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP)?

In lieu of terminating employment, any member who is eligible for normal retirement may elect to defer receipt of the retirement pension to participate in the DROP.

When should I notify the pension office when I am terminating employment and I am in the DROP?

The pension office should be notified as soon as you are aware of your termination date.

If I am in the DROP, what does the pension office need from me when I terminate employment?

The pension office will need a copy of a voided check for direct deposit and a completed W-4P form for federal income taxes. The pension office will also need forms completed to direct how to pay the DROP money.

How quickly will my lump sum payment for my DROP money be paid?

The DROP money will be paid as soon as administratively feasible, but not prior to the termination date.

When will I get my first check?

The pension payments are paid on the last business day of the month.

Is the pension taxable?

Yes, pensions are subject to federal income tax only. 1099R tax statements are provided each year for filing taxes. Please contact a tax advisor for how the taxes will affect your benefit.

How much is my lump sum payment going to be taxed?

Click here to view the Special Tax Notice.

Am I eligible for insurance?

Contact Human Resources at (941) 951-3660 in regard to insurance questions.

What kind of plans can I roll my lump sum payment into?

Below is a list of the type of plan or account that a lump sum payment can be rolled into:

401(a) [401(k), profit sharing, defined benefit plan, money purchase plan, other “eligible employer plan”]
403(a) [annuity plan]
403(b) [tax-sheltered annuity]
457(b) [eligible deferred compensation plan maintained by government employer]
408(a) [Traditional IRA (not Simple IRA or Coverdell Education Savings Account)]
408A [Roth IRA]

What is the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) on my pension?

The COLA for a person who retired prior to 1999 is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the adjustment is made the last day of the month of February.

The COLA for a person who retired between 2000 and 2012 is a 3% annual increase and the increase is made the last day of the month of February.

The COLA for a person who retired after 12/28/2011 is 3% for the service accrued prior to 12/28/2011 and the adjustment is made the last day of the month of February. The service accrued after 12/28/2011 is a 2% annual increase and is effective on the retirees 65th birthday or on the 5 year anniversary of retirement (whichever comes first).

How do I update my direct deposit information once I am retired?

To update direct deposit information, please send a letter to the pension office with the requested changes. A copy of the voided check for a new account must be submitted with the request. It will take a month for the direct deposit to set up, and a check will be issued for the first month.

Can I buy back service from previous government or military employment?

Time served under honorable conditions in the military service of the Armed Forces of the United States or the United States Merchant Marines prior to initial employment can be added to the years of service.

Time served as an employee for any other governmental agency of the United States can be added to the years of credited services.

Please contact the pension office at (941) 954-2600 or (941) 954-4141 for any additional information and costs associated with buying back service.

How do I get a copy of my 1099R?

Contact the pension office at (941) 954-2600 or (941) 954-4141 for a copy of the 1099R.

Who do I contact for an income verification letter?

Contact the pension office for an income verification letter at (941) 954-2600 or (941) 954-4141.

How do I become a member of the General Employees’ Pension Board of Trustees?

There are certain qualifications and requirements to become a Trustee on the General Employees’ Pension Board. Below is an explanation of who is eligible to run for a seat on this Board:

a. One member is a legal resident appointed by the City Commission.
b. Four of the members are permanent employees who have been members of the Pension Fund for at least five years and shall be elected by a majority of the members of the Fund.

If you are interested in becoming a member of this Board and meet these requirements, please contact the pension office at (941) 954-2600 or (941) 954-4141.

How does the election process work?

For an active member, a memo is distributed to all active members of the Plan explaining the date the seat will expire and the date the nominating petition is due to the pension office. If only one nomination is received, that member, by default, will take the seat. If multiple nominations are received, ballots will be prepared and distributed to each member of the Plan. The ballots must be returned to the pension office in a sealed envelope. These secret ballots will then be opened and counted at the next Board meeting.

For the City Commission appointed seat, the opening will be advertised on the City’s Advisory Board Vacancies and Application web page. Once the applications are received, they will go before the City Commission for consideration.