City of Atlanta Police Officers’ Pension Plan
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

What Happens If I Leave My Job As a Police Officer Before I Retire?

What Happens If I Become Disabled Before I Retire?

What Happens If I Die Before I Retire?

What If I Have Other Service Besides What I Have Earned As a Full-Time Police Officer with the City?

How Do I Apply for Benefits?

Can I Apply For Disability Benefits After My Retirement Benefits Have Been Approved?

What Happens If I Return to Work After I Retire or Terminate My Employment?

How Do I Appeal the Board of Trustees’ Decision to Deny My Claim for Disability Benefits?

Do I Earn Credit for Performing Military Service?

When Is My Account Fully Vested?

Can My Benefits Be Affected By A Divorce Or Family Dispute?

Can I Assign My Benefits?

Can I Borrow Or Withdraw A Portion Of My Pension?

Could My Payments Be Suspended?

Am I Required To Have Taxes Withheld From My Payments?

Am I Guaranteed A Minimum Benefit?

Is There A Mandatory Payment After A required Age?

What Happens If I Do Not Name A Beneficiary or If My Beneficiary Predeceases Me?

How Do I Appeal a Final Determination by the Board of Trustees?



What Happens If I Leave My Job As a Police Officer Before I Retire?

Refund of Participant Contributions

If you terminate your employment with the City, you may apply for a refund of your total participant contributions accumulated with interest. Please note that, if you elect to receive such a refund, you will forfeit any other monthly retirement benefits under the plan. In addition, any refund of participant contributions payable to your beneficiary upon your death is reduced by the value of all other retirement benefits that have already been paid to you or your beneficiary.

If you terminate your employment with the City and you have earned less than five years of creditable service and are not terminating due to death or disability incurred in the line of duty, the refund of your participant contributions is the only benefit that will be payable to you or your beneficiary.

Calculation of Your Vested Deferred Retirement Benefit

If you terminate your employment with the City after earning at least five years of creditable service and decline receiving a refund of your participant contributions, you will be eligible to receive a vested deferred retirement benefit once you reach age 60.

Vesting is a form of ownership or right to receive a retirement benefit. Under the plan, your retirement benefits become vested in accordance with the following schedule:

Years of Creditable Service Vested Percentage
Less than five 0%
At least five, but less than six 25%
At least six, but less than seven 30%
At least seven, but less than eight 35%
At least eight, but less than nine 40%
At least nine, but less than 10 45%
At least 10 100%

Your vested deferred retirement benefit is calculated in the same way as your normal retirement benefit, except that your monthly accrued benefit is multiplied by the applicable vested percentage from the table above.

Let’s assume that you leave employment with the City at age 45 with nine years of creditable service and that your monthly accrued benefit under the plan is $1,000.00 per month.

Your vested deferred retirement benefit will be $450.00 per month payable for your lifetime starting at age 60, calculated as follows:

Your Monthly
Accrued Benefit
Vested Percentage
From Table Above
Your Life Annuity
Payable at Age 60
$1,000.00 x 45% = $450.00




What Happens If I Become Disabled Before I Retire?

Total and Permanent Disability

You will be considered to be totally and permanently disabled under the plan if:

GROUP A
Your disability is determined to be a continuous state of incapacity due to illness or injury such that: (a) you are prevented from performing your regular assigned or comparable duties during your first 12 months of disability, and (b) are thereafter prevented from engaging in any occupation for which you have become reasonably qualified by education, training, or experience.
OR
GROUP B
Your disability is determined to be a total and permanent physical or mental inability to perform your regular assigned or comparable duties as a Police Officer with the City.

The Board of Trustees has the right, at least once a year, to require you to submit to a medical examination in order to determine if you continue to qualify as being totally and permanently disabled as defined by the plan.

Disability Incurred In the Line of Duty

You will be considered to have incurred a service-related disability in the line of duty if your disability is a direct result of a traumatic event or events occurring in the course of and as a direct result of the performance of your regular or assigned duties and excluding any disability resulting from:

  1. willful negligence; or
  2. a cardiovascular or muscular-skeletal condition that is not a direct result of traumatic event(s) occurring in the performance of duties; or
  3. a pre-existing condition that is not a direct result of traumatic event(s) occurring in the performance of duties.

If you become totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty as a Police Officer with the City, you will be eligible to receive a monthly disability retirement benefit calculated as follows:

GROUP A
The greater of: (a) your monthly accrued benefit determined as of your date of disability, or (b) 50% of your average monthly earnings determined as of your date of disability. However, your benefit will be re-calculated when you reach age 55. The re-calculated amount will include creditable service for your period of disability, but will not include any cost-of-living adjustments that were applied to your previous disability benefit.
OR
GROUP B
The greater of: (a) your monthly accrued benefit determined as of the date of your disability, or (b) 70% of the top salary for the grade and position that you occupy as a Police Officer with the City as determined on the day before your date of disability.

Catastrophic Disability Incurred in the Line of Duty

You will be considered to have sustained a service-related catastrophic disability if your disability is a sudden, violent, life-threatening injury incurred in the line of duty where the injury includes, but is not specifically limited to, one of the conditions described below:

  1. a loss of sight in one or both eyes; or
  2. a loss of one or both feet at or above the ankle; or
  3. a loss of one or both hands at or above the wrist; or
  4. an injury to the spine that results in permanent and complete paralysis of both arms, both legs, or one arm and one leg; or
  5. an externally caused traumatic injury to the brain or skull that renders you physically or mentally unable to perform two or more activities of daily living (feeding oneself, dressing, continence, bathing, getting in and out of bed, driving a motor vehicle, etc.); or
  6. any other permanently and severely disabling injury or disorder that compromises your ability to carry out the activities of daily living to such a degree that you require personal or mechanical assistance to leave home or bed or you require constant supervision to avoid physical harm to yourself and others.

The determination of whether a disability is catastrophic shall be made at the sole discretion of the Board of Trustees, taking into account official medical records, qualified medical expert opinions, sworn testimony or other reliable sources acceptable to the Board.

If you incur a catastrophic injury in the line of duty as a police officer with the City, you will receive a monthly disability benefit equal to 100% of the top salary for the grade and position that you occupied at the time of your injury. This catastrophic disability benefit will be provided in lieu of the other disability benefits described in this booklet.

Disability Not Incurred in the Line of Duty

If you become totally and permanently disabled from a non-service related injury while an active employee of the City with at least five years of creditable service, you may be eligible to receive a monthly disability retirement benefit from the plan calculated as follows:

GROUP A
Same as for a non-catastrophic disability incurred in the line of duty.
OR
GROUP B
Your monthly accrued benefit determined as of the date of your disability.

Payment of Your Disability Retirement Benefit

The fund will pay a disability benefit to you until you either reach age 55 or recover from your disability as described below. You are covered by Group A or Group B benefits, as follows:

GROUP A
Disability retirement benefits will stop if you recover from your disability prior to age 55. Otherwise, disability retirement benefits are payable until age 55, at which time your benefit will convert to a normal, early, or vested deferred retirement benefit, whichever you are eligible for. Your re-calculated retirement benefit will be determined by the plan provisions in effect at the time you last worked in active service and will reflect creditable service for the period of time while you were disabled, but will not include any cost-of-living adjustments that were applied to your previous disability benefit.
OR
GROUP B
Disability retirement benefits will stop if you recover from your disability prior to age 55. Otherwise, disability retirement benefits are payable for your lifetime. If you do recover from your disability prior to age 55, then your payments will resume at your regular early, normal, or deferred vested retirement age, along with any additional benefits that you have earned after your recovery. In this case, your normal, early, or deferred vested retirement benefit will be calculated to reflect your total creditable service both before and after your period of disability and your benefit will be adjusted, if necessary, to reflect any applicable early retirement reduction.

You will be considered to have recovered from your disability when you are no longer "totally and permanently disabled".

If you die while in receipt of a disability retirement benefit, your spouse, domestic partner, or dependent children will be eligible to receive a death benefit from the plan.

Limitations on Your Disability Retirement Benefit

Your disability retirement benefit under the plan is offset by any worker’s compensation payments that you receive such that the combination of your disability retirement benefit calculated without any subsequent cost-of-living adjustments plus your worker’s compensation payments cannot exceed:

GROUP A
75% of your salary at the time of your disability retirement. (However, if you die while in receipt of a service-related disability retirement benefit, any death benefit payable to an eligible beneficiary is similarly limited to 60% of your salary at the time of your disability retirement or death.)
OR
GROUP B
100% of your salary at the time of your disability retirement.




What Happens If I Die Before I Retire?

If you die before you begin receiving a retirement or disability benefit, then your eligible beneficiary will receive a monthly pre-retirement death benefit from the plan. You must be either married to your spouse or registered with your domestic partner for at least one year prior to your death in order for your spouse or domestic partner to qualify as an eligible beneficiary for this purpose.

GROUP A
If you do not have an eligible spouse or domestic partner or your eligible spouse or domestic partner dies, then the monthly pre-retirement death benefit will be payable in equal shares to your unmarried dependent children under age 18 (or under age 23 if a full-time student).
OR
GROUP B
If you do not have an eligible spouse or domestic partner or your eligible spouse or domestic partner dies or remarries, then the monthly pre-retirement death benefit will be payable in equal shares to your unmarried dependent children under age 18 (or under age 23 if a full-time student).

Death Incurred In the Line of Duty

Death in the line of duty is when your death is a direct result of a traumatic event or events occurring in the course of and as a direct result of the performance of your regular or assigned duties and excluding any death resulting from:

  1. willful negligence; or
  2. a cardiovascular or muscular-skeletal condition that is not a direct result of traumatic event(s) occurring in the performance of your duties; or
  3. a pre-existing condition that is not a direct result of traumatic event(s) occurring in the performance of your duties.

If you die in the line of duty, then the monthly pre-retirement death benefit payable to your eligible beneficiary(ies), is calculated as follows:

GROUP A
For the first two years following your death:
  • 100% of your base salary at the time of your death, but offset by any worker’s compensation or other compensation you received for line of duty injuries prior to your death
After this two-year period:
  • 75% of your monthly accrued benefit determined as of the date of your death
OR
GROUP B
For the first two years following your death:
  • 100% of your base salary at the time of your death, but offset by any worker’s compensation or other compensation you received for line of duty injuries prior to your death
After this two-year period:
  • 75% of the greater of: (a) your monthly accrued benefit determined as of the date of your death; or (b) 70% of the top salary for the grade and position that you occupied as a Police Officer with the City as determined on the day before your date of death

Death Not Incurred In the Line of Duty

If you die prior to retirement but after earning five years of creditable service as a Police Officer with the City and your death was not incurred in the line of duty, your eligible beneficiary will receive a monthly pre-retirement death benefit equal to 75% of your monthly accrued benefit determined at the date of your death.



What If I Have Other Service Besides What I Have Earned As a Full-Time Police Officer with the City?

Generally, only your service with the City while employed as a full-time sworn police officer will count towards your eligibility for benefits and the amount of those benefits. However, if you have other service with the City and you participated in another pension plan sponsored by the City, your employee and employer contributions and creditable service may be eligible for transfer from the other pension plan into this pension plan. If you have other prior service with the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, Fulton County, Dekalb County, or as a teacher in a public school system or private college or university within the State of Georgia, you may be able to receive creditable service for such employment provided that you make the required contribution to this pension plan. If either of these situations applies to you, please contact the pension office for more information on how much you will have to contribute to this plan in order to receive credit for your other service.



How Do I Apply for Benefits?

If you wish to apply for benefits under the plan, you should first contact the pension office (see contact information on page 42) and obtain an Application for Retirement, Federal Tax Withholding Election Form, Direct Deposit Form, and the Pension Clearance Form.

  1. The Direct Deposit Form is optional and should be completed only if you wish to have your monthly payments automatically deposited into your checking or savings account.
  2. You will need to provide a copy of your Birth Certificate or other proof of your age (such as your Driver’s License, etc.) and similar proof of age for all of your eligible beneficiaries. If applicable, you will also need to provide a copy of your Marriage Certificate or Domestic Partner Registry Record or other proof of your legal marriage or domestic partner registration with the City of Atlanta.
  3. Complete all of your retirement forms and, on the last day of your employment, take your Pension Clearance Form to your Human Resource Department to obtain the required signature of a manager or supervisor with the City. A payroll clerk will review your forms with you at that time.
  4. Return to the pension office the completed Pension Clearance Form along with your Application for Retirement, Federal Tax Withholding Election Form, Direct Deposit Form, most recent paycheck stub, proofs of age as described above, and marriage license. You will then meet with a pension office representative, who will process your application and set up payment of your monthly pension check.
Your pension checks will be issued at the end of each month. Please contact the pension office if you fail to receive your pension check within seven working days of the payment date.



Can I Apply For Disability Benefits After My Retirement Benefits Have Been Approved?

No, once an application for retirement benefits is approved by the Board of Trustees, no other applications for either a retirement or disability benefit will be considered.



What Happens If I Return to Work After I Retire or Terminate My Employment?

If you withdraw your contributions to the pension plan at the time you terminate your employment as a Police Officer with the City, you may request to be given credit for your prior service. In order to receive credit for your prior service, you must pay back the contributions withdrawn plus any required interest. If the plan was amended to increase the participant contribution percentages in your absence, you may also be required to pay additional contributions to cover the increase in the contribution rate. Please contact the pension office for more information on how much you will have to contribute to the plan in order to receive credit for your prior service.

If you return to work as a regular employee after you retire and begin receiving monthly retirement benefits from the plan, your retirement benefits will be stopped and frozen until the end of your reemployment. During the period of reemployment, you will not accrue additional creditable service and you will be prohibited from contributing to the pension fund. Upon subsequent termination of employment, your previous retirement benefits will resume without adjustment.

If you return to work under legislative directives as an independent contractor or an employee with a special skill, you may be entitled to receive your pension benefits and your salary simultaneously for a limited period of time.



How Do I Appeal the Board of Trustees’ Decision to Deny My Claim for Disability Benefits?

In order to have a denial of your disability benefit reviewed by the Board of Trustees, you must send a written request for such a review to the pension office within 30 days from the date of the hearing when your disability benefit was denied. The pension office will then place your appeal for review on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Trustees. You will be advised of the date of this meeting and you may then attend the meeting to make your case personally before the Board. You will need to provide the pension office with any additional information that you consider relevant to your appeal. This information, along with your appeal letter, will be provided to the Board of Trustees. At the meeting, the Board will consider your appeal and make a final determination.


Do I earn credit for performing military service?

Pension Credit for Military Service
On December 12, 1994, a new federal law, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), became effective. This law requires the pension plan to give you pension credit (i.e. creditable service) for certain service performed after that date while you are in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard (or any Reserve or National Guard components of any of these), in the commissioned corps of the United States Public Health Service, or in any other category of persons designated by the President of the United States in a time of war or emergency. However, in order to receive pension credit under the plan for military or other service as described above, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must have been working in employment which was covered by the pension plan immediately prior to entering such service; and
  2. You must return to covered employment as a police officer with the City within the time period specified in the law; and
  3. You must make-up the required participant contributions to the pension plan (without interest) within the time period specified in the law for the period of time while you were in the military.
If you would like more details concerning the specific rules regarding pension credit for uniformed service, please contact the pension office.


When is my account fully vested?

Under the plan, your retirement benefit becomes fully vested with 10 years of Creditable Service.


Can my benefits be affected by a Divorce or family dispute?

No, the Plan has no provision for Qualify Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).


Can I assign my benefits?

The money in the trust fund is used exclusively to provide benefits for the participants of the fund and eligible beneficiaries. None of the money in the fund is assignable, transferable, or attachable.


Can I borrow or withdraw a portion of my pension?

No, the Plan has no provision for loans or Hardship withdrawals.


Could my payments be suspended?

If you return to work as a regular employee after you retire and begin receiving monthly retirement benefits from the plan, your retirement benefits will be stopped and frozen until the end of your reemployment. During the period of reemployment, you will not accrue additional creditable service and you will be prohibited from contributing to the pension fund. Upon subsequent termination of employment, your previous retirement benefits will resume without adjustment.

If you return to work under legislative directives as an independent contractor or an employee with a special skill, you may be entitled to receive your pension benefits and your salary simultaneously for a limited period of time.


Am I required to have taxes withheld from my payments?

Pension payment is taxable income and subjected to tax withholdings under the IRS guidelines. You will be issued a 1099R at the end of January for all payments made in the prior year. For additional tax information and how if affects your payments, please contact your tax advisor or visit the IRS website


Am I guaranteed a minimum benefit?

Guaranteed Minimum Benefit
Regardless of whether you retire with a normal, early, delayed, or vested deferred benefit or whether you terminate your employment prior to retirement, you are guaranteed at a minimum to receive the amount of your accumulated participant contributions with simple interest. The interest rate that is credited to your participant contributions is generally 5% per year, but the interest rate may be less than 5% for those years in which the trust fund earns less than 5% on its investments. Also, interest was not credited prior to 1986.


Is there a mandatory payment after a required age?

Mandated Payment of Benefits After Age 70˝ When You Are No Longer Employed
Under federal law, the Board of Trustees is required to start paying you your benefits from the pension plan no later than the April 1st of the calendar year after you have reached age 70˝ and you are no longer employed with the City of Atlanta. Payments will begin even if you have not filed an application for benefits.


How Do I Appeal a Final Determination by the Board of Trustees?

If the Board of Trustees has made a final determination regarding your benefit eligibility or the amount of benefits that you will receive and if you do not agree with the Trustees’ decision, you may appeal the decision through a writ of certiorari to the Fulton County Superior Court.


Home | Your Benefits Online | Contact Us | FAQ's | Legal & Privacy