How to Obtain Benefits
You or your beneficiary may begin receiving payment of your plan benefits, other than in-service withdrawals, when you retire, die, become disabled, or terminate your employment with Boston University. Some choices regarding the form of payment are available to you. However, if your total account balances are $5,000 or less, the plan has the right to pay them out in a lump-sum cash payment.
Any payments you receive before age 59½ may be subject to a 10% penalty tax in addition to regular income tax (if applicable) unless one of a limited number of exceptions applies.
You may elect to receive a lump-sum distribution of the full value of your accounts from either TIAA-CREF or Fidelity.
If you are married, federal law provides that you must receive your benefits in the form of a 50 Percent Joint and Survivor Annuity, with your spouse as beneficiary, unless your spouse agrees, in writing, to your choice of another form of payment. Your spouse’s signature must be witnessed by a plan representative or notarized by a notary public.
Your Spouse’s Rights
Under federal pension legislation, if you choose any method of payment other than a Survivor Annuity with your spouse as the survivor, your spouse must give written consent that acknowledges his or her rights to survivor benefits are being waived. Your spouse’s signature must be witnessed by a plan representative or notarized by a notary public.
Federal pension law (ERISA) provides that if you are married at the time of your death, your spouse is entitled to receive, as primary beneficiary, 50 percent of your qualified preretirement survivor death benefits under a retirement or tax-deferred annuity plan covered by ERISA. If you name someone other than your spouse as primary beneficiary for more than 50 percent of the benefits and he or she has not consented to this primary beneficiary designation by completing a Spousal Waiver, then 50 percent of those qualified preretirement survivor annuity death benefits will be payable to your spouse regardless of your beneficiary designation in effect at the time of your death. The remainder will be payable to any other named beneficiaries.
If you designate your spouse as beneficiary and the individual later ceases to be your spouse, such designation will be deemed void and your ex-spouse will have no rights as a beneficiary unless redesignated as a beneficiary by you subsequent to becoming your ex-spouse, or as otherwise provided under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) under IRS Code Section 414(p).