Hon Holli Vining
A member or former member, who has not retired, regardless of whether he is entitled to any retirement benefits from the fund, may elect to withdraw his accumulated employee contributions. In order to do so, he must file a written request with the board of trustees after he has terminated his membership in the fund but prior to receiving any retirement benefit from the fund. He must have remained out of service in a clerk of court's office for at least thirty days, and all contributions withheld on behalf of the member or former member must have been received by the fund. If such a member or former member makes such a withdrawal, neither he nor any other person after his death will be entitled to any benefits on his account. All rights in the fund will be cancelled and credit for all service shall be forfeited.
If the total of all benefits paid to a retiree and all benefits paid on his account after his death, if applicable, is less than the retiree's accumulated employee contributions, the remaining accumulated employee contributions will be paid to the retiree's designated beneficiary.
Upon the death of a member or former member who has not been paid any benefits from the fund, including a withdrawal of accumulated employee contributions, and who is not survived by any person eligible for any benefits from the fund, the accumulated employee contributions of the member or former member will be paid to his designated beneficiary.
A member or former member may, at any time prior to his death, withdraw, refile, or amend the written designation of his beneficiary. (Please note that upon retirement, in cases where the member chooses to provide optional benefits to a named beneficiary, no change in beneficiary is permitted for the purposes of the optional benefits.)
If any sum becomes payable to a member's or former member's designated beneficiary, and that beneficiary predeceased the member or former member or if any sum would otherwise be payable to a beneficiary but none was designated by the member or former member, then such sum will be paid to the estate of the member or former member.
If the member or former member dies and survivor benefits become payable, the survivor may elect to be paid in one lump sum the member's or former member's accumulated employee contributions in lieu of survivor benefits. The survivor must do so by notifying the board in writing and waiving the right to all other benefits. If survivor benefits are payable to more than one person, no payment of the remaining accumulated employee contributions may be made unless all persons eligible for survivor benefits agree in writing to the distribution of the remaining accumulated contributions.
Payments made pursuant to this section will be paid only upon receipt by the board of an application for such a payment. The applicant must provide any information requested in the form required by the board. Such payment will discharge the board and the fund from any other responsibility or liability to any other person, will cancel all rights in the fund and cause credit for all service to be forfeited, and neither the former member nor any other person will be entitled to any benefits on the former member's account.
Exemption from Taxes and Execution – (See R. S. 11:1526)
The right of any person to receive a regular, disability, survivor, or other benefit from the fund, including the right to receive a refund of accumulated employee contributions and any optional benefit and any other right accrued or accruing to any person, and the monies in the fund are exempt from all state and municipal taxes, including all state income taxes, and shall be exempt from levy and sale, garnishment, attachment, or any other process whatsoever, except as provided in the section titled “Seizure for Child Support”, and shall be unassignable in whole or in part.
Conditions for Payment of Benefit – (See R. S. 11:1527)
No regular, disability, survivor, or other benefit from the fund, including a refund of accumulated employee contributions and any optional benefit, will be payable until and unless an application is filed with the board. The application must provide the information required by the Board in the form specified by the retirement system. All contributions by or for the member or former member must have been received by the Board, and the member or former member must have terminated his service as an employee or a Clerk of Court. No benefit from the fund will be paid to any Clerk or former Clerk whose membership in the fund was suspended and not reinstated.
Commencement of Benefits – (See R. S. 11:1529)
If an application for any benefits is received by the board within ninety days of the date the applicant became eligible for the benefit, benefits will be paid retroactive to the date of eligibility. If an application for any benefit is received by the board after ninety days since the date the applicant became eligible, benefits will be paid only from the date the application is received by the board.
Maximum Benefits – (See R. S. 11:1531)
Unless provided by any other provision of this pension plan to the contrary, no member may receive a benefit in any year that exceeds of the sum of the maximum employer-financed benefit and the member-financed benefit. The maximum employer-financed benefit is ninety thousand dollars. The member-financed benefit is the annual benefit that can be provided by annuitizing the member's after-tax accumulated contributions. Any benefit reduction required will, to the extent possible, reduce the monthly pension to which the member would otherwise have been entitled and will not affect the member's Deferred Retirement Option Plan account.
If the annual benefit begins before the member reaches age sixty-two, the ninety thousand dollars limit established above, as adjusted, will be reduced in a manner prescribed by the secretary of the United States Treasury. Such adjustment, however, may not reduce the member's annual benefit below seventy-five thousand dollars, if the member's benefit begins at or after age fifty-five, or the actuarial equivalent of seventy-five thousand dollars beginning at age fifty-five if benefits begin before age fifty-five.
If the annual benefit begins after the member attains age sixty-five, the ninety thousand dollar limit, as adjusted, will be increased so that it is the actuarial equivalent of the ninety thousand dollars limit at age sixty-five. The ninety thousand dollar limit on annual benefits, but not the seventy-five thousand dollars limit, will be adjusted annually as provided by Section 415(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, hereinafter referred to in this Section as "the Code", and the regulations prescribed by the secretary of the United States Treasury to reflect cost-of-living adjustments. The adjusted limit is effective as of January first of each calendar year and is applicable to benefits commencing during that calendar year. As a result of a cost-of-living increase, a pension that had been limited by the provisions of this Section in a previous year may be increased with respect to future payments to the lesser of the new limit or the amount of pension that would have been payable under this pension plan without regard to the provisions of this Section.
Annual benefits may not be paid in an amount greater than the accrued benefit under the plan. The maximum limit will apply to a single-life pension. If the benefit is payable in a form other than a single-life annuity, the maximum limit will apply to the pension that is the actuarial equivalent of such single-life annuity, using an applicable interest rate and mortality table as prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service. However, the limit will not be reduced for any benefit received as a disability retirement allowance or any payments received by the beneficiaries, survivors, or estate of a member as a result of the death of the member.
This plan may still pay an annual benefit to any member in excess of the limit otherwise allowed under this Section if the annual benefit derived from the employer contributions under this and all other qualified plans subject to the limitations of Section 415(b) of the Code does not in the aggregate exceed ten thousand dollars for the plan year or for any prior year, and the member has not at any time participated in a defined contribution plan maintained by the employer. For purposes of this Subsection only, a member's own contributions to the pension plan are not considered a separate defined contribution plan maintained by the employer.
If a member is or has been a participant in one or more defined contribution plans maintained by the employer, the sum of the member's contributions under this pension plan and any other qualified defined benefit plans of the employer and the annual additions under the defined contribution plan or plans may not exceed the lesser of twenty-five percent of the member's earned compensation or thirty thousand dollars, as adjusted by the secretary of the United States Treasury. Further, the sum of the defined benefit plan fraction, as defined in Section 415 of the Code, and the defined contribution plan fraction, as defined in Section 415 of the Code, for any plan year in which Section 415(e) of the Code is in effect, may not exceed one for any calendar year in which the limits of Section 415(d) of the Code are in effect and enforced by the Internal Revenue Service. If the sum of the defined benefit plan fraction and the defined contribution plan fraction exceeds one in any such year for any member, or if the benefits under this plan and one or more other defined benefit plans would otherwise exceed the maximum employer-financed benefit, and the administrator of the other plan does not reduce the contributions or benefits under the other plan, the employer-financed benefit under this plan shall be reduced to the extent necessary to ensure that the limitations under Section 415 of the Code are met.
If the United States Congress or the Internal Revenue Service later amends laws, regulations, or other guidelines pertaining to Section 415 of the Code in order to permit higher service retirement benefits, then, for any retired member who had previously had a benefit reduced because it exceeded the limits in this Section, the board of trustees shall recalculate the retired member's benefit to be the smaller of the unreduced benefit based on the pension plan's service retirement benefit formula in effect on the date the member retired, or the maximum permissible benefit calculated under the amended laws or regulations. If a retroactive change is permissible, the board of trustees shall pay the retired member in a single payment an amount equal to the difference between the adjusted higher monthly benefit and the reduced benefit for the number of months the member has received the reduced benefit. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no member shall receive any benefit under this Section to the extent that he has received a distribution with respect to such benefit from an excess benefit plan.
Direct Rollover of Eligible Rollover Distributions – (See R. S. 11:1532)
Notwithstanding any provision of the law that would otherwise limit a distributee's election under this Section, a distributee may elect, at the time and in the manner prescribed by the board of trustees, to have any portion of an eligible rollover distribution paid directly to an eligible retirement plan specified by the distributee in a direct rollover. For this purpose, an eligible rollover distribution is any distribution made on or after December 1, 1994, of all or any portion of the balance to the credit of the distributee, except that an eligible rollover distribution does not include: any equal periodic payments (not less frequently than annually) made for the life (or life expectancy) of the distributee or the joint lives (or joint life expectancies) of the distributee and the distributee's designated beneficiary or for a specified period of ten years or more; any distribution to the extent such distribution is required under Section 401(a)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code, hereinafter referred to in this Section as "the Code"; and the portion of any distribution that is not includable in gross income. An eligible retirement plan is an individual retirement account described in Section 408(b) of the Code, an individual retirement annuity described in Section 408(a) of the Code, or a qualified trust described in Section 401(a) of the Code, that accepts the distributee's eligible rollover distribution. In the case of an eligible rollover distribution to a surviving spouse, however, an eligible retirement plan is only an individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity. A distributee includes a member or former member. In addition, the member's or former member's surviving spouse and the member's or former member's spouse or former spouse who is an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order, as defined in Section 414(p) of the Code, are distributees with regard to the interest of the spouse or former spouse. A direct rollover is payment by the plan to the eligible retirement plan specified by the distributee.
Internal Revenue Code Qualification Requirements – (See R. S. 11:1533)
The assets of this pension plan shall be held for the exclusive benefit of the employees who are or become participating members of the pension plan and their survivors and beneficiaries, and of retirees and their survivors and beneficiaries. It shall be impossible for any part of the corpus or income of the pension plan to be used for or diverted to purposes other than the exclusive benefit of such members and retirees, or their survivors or beneficiaries, whether by operation or natural termination of the plan, by power of revocation or amendment, by the happening of a contingency, by collateral assignment, or by any other means.
The retirement benefit earned by a member shall be fully vested and nonforfeitable no later than the date he becomes eligible to retire. Benefits of affected members shall also become vested (nonforfeitable) to the extent funded, upon the termination or partial termination of the pension plan or the complete discontinuance of contributions thereunder.
Forfeitures resulting from a termination of employment or a withdrawal of a member's own contributions may not be used to increase benefits to remaining members. This shall not preclude an increase in benefits by amendment to the benefit formula made possible by favorable investment results or for any other reason.
A member's benefits shall be distributed, or commence to be distributed, to the member not later than April first of the year following the later of the calendar year in which such member attains age seventy and one-half years or terminates employment. Distributions to a member and the member's beneficiary shall be made in accordance with Section 401(a)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code, hereinafter referred to in this Section as "the Code", including Section 401(a)(9)(D) thereof relating to incidental death benefits. Except as otherwise provided in this Subsection, payments of death benefits to the survivor of a member who dies before any retirement benefits have been paid shall commence no later than one year after the death of the member. Payments on behalf of any deceased member, including lump-sum payments, need not commence within the one-year period if all such payments on behalf of the deceased member are completed within five years after the member's death. Furthermore, if the deceased member's spouse is the sole survivor, benefits to the spouse may begin as late as December thirty-first of the year the member would have attained age seventy and one-half years had such member lived. If a member dies after retirement benefits have commenced, benefits must continue to be distributed to the survivor at least as rapidly as provided for under the option elected by the member before his death.
Benefits in the event of termination of this pension plan shall be limited as follows:
Payment of warrants – (See R. S. 11:1548)
All monies paid from the fund will be paid by the secretary of the board only upon warrants signed by the president of the board and countersigned by the secretary of the board. No warrants will be drawn except by orders of the board, duly entered upon the records of the proceedings of the board.
Excess Benefit Plan – (See R. S. 11:1575 – R. S. 11:1578)
As part of the statutes related to the Clerks of Court Retirement and Relief Fund, a separate, unfunded, non-qualified excess benefit plan is created as defined in Section 415(m)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The excess benefit plan is created under the statutes to be used in the event that benefits calculated under the Fund’s statutes exceed Internal Revenue Code limits set forth in Section 415. This excess benefit plan would allow the Fund a mechanism to pay benefits that are due under the Louisiana Revised Statutes but exceed limits set forth in the Internal Revenue Code. For details, refer to the specific revised statutes.
Receipt of Benefits – (See R. S. 11:155)
Other than payments from the Deferred Retirement Option Plan and refunds of accumulated employee contributions, all benefits may only be paid in equal monthly payments; benefits may not be paid in a lump sum or actuarial equivalent lump sum.
Any member who, on September 1, 1985, has earned sufficient service credit to be eligible for a normal retirement on or before August 31, 1995, but has not, on September 1, 1985, attained the normal retirement age, shall, during the ten year period from September 1, 1985, through August 31, 1995, be eligible for an early retirement, regardless of age, with benefits reduced to a level which would be actuarially equivalent to a retirement at the normal retirement age using the normal retirement formula.
The actuary for the system shall develop reduction factors for use in computing the reduced benefit applicable to early retirement. However, in no event shall such benefit reduction be less than one percent for each calendar quarter by which the effective date of retirement is advanced before normal retirement eligibility.
Any member who, on January 1, 1982, had earned ten years of service credit, shall be eligible for an early retirement, regardless of age, with benefits reduced to a level which would be actuarially equivalent to a retirement at the normal retirement age using the normal retirement formula.
Seizure for Child Support – (See R. S. 11:292)
Any retirement allowance, benefit, or refund of accumulated contributions paid to any member, former member, or retiree under the provisions of any public retirement system, or the portion of a retirement allowance, benefit, or refund of accumulated contributions paid to a spouse or former spouse under the provisions of R. S. 11:291 (as described in the section titled “Community Property interest”), shall be subject to garnishment or court-ordered assignment to pay child support.
Members who are within three years of retirement eligibility may request an estimate of retirement benefits payable at retirement eligibility. To request an estimate of retirement benefits, a written request, signed by the member, must be submitted to the system.
Louisiana Clerks of Court Association
10202 Jefferson Highway, Building A
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
(800) 256-6660 or (225) 293-1162