December 13, 2019
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The Florida Statutes

The 2003 Florida Statutes

Title X
PUBLIC OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AND RECORDS
Chapter 121
FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM
View Entire Chapter
Section 121.591, Florida Statutes 2003

121.591  Benefits payable under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program of the Florida Retirement System.--Benefits may not be paid under this section unless the member has terminated employment as provided in s. 121.021(39)(a) or is deceased and a proper application has been filed in the manner prescribed by the state board or the department. The state board or department, as appropriate, may cancel an application for retirement benefits when the member or beneficiary fails to timely provide the information and documents required by this chapter and the rules of the state board and department. In accordance with their respective responsibilities as provided herein, the State Board of Administration and the Department of Management Services shall adopt rules establishing procedures for application for retirement benefits and for the cancellation of such application when the required information or documents are not received.

(1)  NORMAL BENEFITS.--Under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program:

(a)  Benefits in the form of vested accumulations as described in s. 121.4501(6) shall be payable under this subsection in accordance with the following terms and conditions:

1.  To the extent vested, benefits shall be payable only to a participant.

2.  Benefits shall be paid by the third-party administrator or designated approved providers in accordance with the law, the contracts, and any applicable board rule or policy.

3.  To receive benefits under this subsection, the participant must be terminated from all employment with all Florida Retirement System employers, as provided in s. 121.021(39).

(b)  If a participant elects to receive his or her benefits upon termination of employment, the participant must submit a written application to the third-party administrator indicating his or her preferred distribution date and selecting an authorized method of distribution as provided in paragraph (c). The participant may defer receipt of benefits until he or she chooses to make such application, subject to federal requirements.

(c)  Upon receipt by the third-party administrator of a properly executed application for distribution of benefits, the total accumulated benefit shall be payable to the participant, as:

1.  A lump-sum distribution to the participant;

2.  A lump-sum direct rollover distribution whereby all accrued benefits, plus interest and investment earnings, are paid from the participant's account directly to the custodian of an eligible retirement plan, as defined in s. 402(c)(8)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, on behalf of the participant; or

3.  Periodic distributions, as authorized by the state board.

(2)  DISABILITY RETIREMENT BENEFITS.--Benefits provided under this subsection are payable in lieu of the benefits which would otherwise be payable under the provisions of subsection (1). Such benefits shall be funded entirely from employer contributions made under s. 121.571, transferred participant funds accumulated pursuant to paragraph (a), and interest and earnings thereon. Pursuant thereto:

(a)  Transfer of funds.--To qualify to receive monthly disability benefits under this subsection:

1.  All moneys accumulated in the participant's Public Employee Optional Retirement Program accounts, including vested and nonvested accumulations as described in s. 121.4501(6), shall be transferred from such individual accounts to the Division of Retirement for deposit in the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund. Such moneys shall be separately accounted for. Earnings shall be credited on an annual basis for amounts held in the disability accounts of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund based on actual earnings of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund.

2.  If the participant has retained retirement credit he or she had earned under the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System as provided in s. 121.4501(3)(b), a sum representing the actuarial present value of such credit within the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund shall be reassigned by the Division of Retirement from the defined benefit program to the disability program as implemented under this subsection and shall be deposited in the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund. Such moneys shall be separately accounted for.

(b)  Disability retirement; entitlement.--

1.  A participant of the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program who becomes totally and permanently disabled, as defined in s. 121.091(4)(b), after completing 8 years of creditable service, or a participant who becomes totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty regardless of his or her length of service, shall be entitled to a monthly disability benefit as provided herein.

2.  In order for service to apply toward the 8 years of service required to vest for regular disability benefits, or toward the creditable service used in calculating a service-based benefit as provided for under paragraph (g), the service must be creditable service as described below:

a.  The participant's period of service under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program will be considered creditable service, except as provided in subparagraph d.

b.  If the participant has elected to retain credit for his or her service under the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System as provided under s. 121.4501(3)(b), all such service will be considered creditable service.

c.  If the participant has elected to transfer to his or her participant accounts a sum representing the present value of his or her retirement credit under the defined benefit program as provided under s. 121.4501(3)(c), the period of service under the defined benefit program represented in the present value amounts transferred will be considered creditable service for purposes of vesting for disability benefits, except as provided in subparagraph d.

d.  Whenever a participant has terminated employment and has taken distribution of his or her funds as provided in subsection (1), all creditable service represented by such distributed funds is forfeited for purposes of this subsection.

(c)  Disability retirement effective date.--The effective retirement date for a participant who applies and is approved for disability retirement shall be established as provided under s. 121.091(4)(a)2. and 3.

(d)  Total and permanent disability.--A participant shall be considered totally and permanently disabled if, in the opinion of the division, he or she is prevented, by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, from rendering useful and efficient service as an officer or employee.

(e)  Proof of disability.--The division, before approving payment of any disability retirement benefit, shall require proof that the participant is totally and permanently disabled in the same manner as provided for members of the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System under s. 121.091(4)(c).

(f)  Disability retirement benefit.--Upon the disability retirement of a participant under this subsection, the participant shall receive a monthly benefit that shall begin to accrue on the first day of the month of disability retirement, as approved by the division, and shall be payable on the last day of that month and each month thereafter during his or her lifetime and continued disability. All disability benefits payable to such member shall be paid out of the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund established under this subsection.

(g)  Computation of disability retirement benefit.--The amount of each monthly payment shall be calculated in the same manner as provided for members of the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System under s. 121.091(4)(f). For such purpose, creditable service under both the defined benefit program and the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program of the Florida Retirement System shall be applicable as provided under paragraph (b).

(h)  Reapplication.--A participant whose initial application for disability retirement has been denied may reapply for disability benefits in the same manner, and under the same conditions, as provided for members of the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System under s. 121.091(4)(g).

(i)  Membership.--Upon approval of an application for disability benefits under this subsection, the applicant shall be transferred to the defined benefit program of the Florida Retirement System, effective upon his or her disability retirement effective date.

(j)  Option to cancel.--Any participant whose application for disability benefits is approved may cancel his or her application for disability benefits, provided that the cancellation request is received by the division before a disability retirement warrant has been deposited, cashed, or received by direct deposit. Upon such cancellation:

1.  The participant's transfer to the defined benefit program under paragraph (i) shall be nullified;

2.  The participant shall be retroactively reinstated in the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program without hiatus;

3.  All funds transferred to the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund under paragraph (a) shall be returned to the participant accounts from which such funds were drawn; and

4.  The participant may elect to receive the benefit payable under the provisions of subsection (1) in lieu of disability benefits as provided under this subsection.

(k)  Recovery from disability.--

1.  The division may require periodic reexaminations at the expense of the disability program account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund. Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph 2., the requirements, procedures, and restrictions relating to the conduct and review of such reexaminations, discontinuation or termination of benefits, reentry into employment, disability retirement after reentry into covered employment, and all other matters relating to recovery from disability shall be the same as are set forth under s. 121.091(4)(h).

2.  Upon recovery from disability, any recipient of disability retirement benefits under this subsection shall be a compulsory member of the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program of the Florida Retirement System. The net difference between the recipient's original account balance transferred to the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund, including earnings, under paragraph (a) and total disability benefits paid to such recipient, if any, shall be determined as provided in sub-subparagraph a.

a.  An amount equal to the total benefits paid shall be subtracted from that portion of the transferred account balance consisting of vested accumulations as described under s. 121.4501(6), if any, and an amount equal to the remainder of benefit amounts paid, if any, shall then be subtracted from any remaining portion consisting of nonvested accumulations as described under s. 121.4501(6).

b.  Amounts subtracted under sub-subparagraph a. shall be retained within the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund. Any remaining account balance shall be transferred to the third-party administrator for disposition as provided under sub-subparagraph c. or sub-subparagraph d., as appropriate.

c.  If the recipient returns to covered employment, transferred amounts shall be deposited in individual accounts under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program, as directed by the participant. Vested and nonvested amounts shall be separately accounted for as provided in s. 121.4501(6).

d.  If the recipient fails to return to covered employment upon recovery from disability:

(I)  Any remaining vested amount shall be deposited in individual accounts under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program, as directed by the participant, and shall be payable as provided in subsection (1).

(II)  Any remaining nonvested amount shall be held in a suspense account and shall be forfeitable after 5 years as provided in s. 121.4501(6).

3.  If present value was reassigned from the defined benefit program to the disability program of the Florida Retirement System as provided under subparagraph (a)2., the full present value amount shall be returned to the defined benefit account within the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund and the affected individual's associated retirement credit under the defined benefit program shall be reinstated in full. Any benefit based upon such credit shall be calculated as provided in s. 121.091(4)(h)1.

(l)  Nonadmissible causes of disability.--A participant shall not be entitled to receive a disability retirement benefit if the disability results from any injury or disease sustained or inflicted as described in s. 121.091(4)(i).

(m)  Disability retirement of justice or judge by order of Supreme Court.--

1.  If a participant is a justice of the Supreme Court, judge of a district court of appeal, circuit judge, or judge of a county court who has served for 6 years or more as an elected constitutional judicial officer, including service as a judicial officer in any court abolished pursuant to Art. V of the State Constitution, and who is retired for disability by order of the Supreme Court upon recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission pursuant to the provisions of Art. V of the State Constitution, the participant's Option 1 monthly disability benefit amount as provided in s. 121.091(6)(a)1. shall be two-thirds of his or her monthly compensation as of the participant's disability retirement date. Such a participant may alternatively elect to receive an actuarially adjusted disability retirement benefit under any other option as provided in s. 121.091(6)(a), or to receive the normal benefit payable under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program as set forth in subsection (1).

2.  If any justice or judge who is a participant of the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program of the Florida Retirement System is retired for disability by order of the Supreme Court upon recommendation of the Judicial Qualifications Commission pursuant to the provisions of Art. V of the State Constitution and elects to receive a monthly disability benefit under the provisions of this paragraph:

a.  Any present value amount that was transferred to his or her program account and all employer contributions made to such account on his or her behalf, plus interest and earnings thereon, shall be transferred to and deposited in the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund; and

b.  The monthly benefits payable under this paragraph for any affected justice or judge retired from the Florida Retirement System pursuant to Art. V of the State Constitution shall be paid from the disability account of the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund.

(n)  Death of retiree or beneficiary.--Upon the death of a disabled retiree or beneficiary thereof who is receiving monthly benefits under this subsection, the monthly benefits shall be paid through the last day of the month of death and shall terminate, or be adjusted, if applicable, as of that date in accordance with the optional form of benefit selected at the time of retirement. The deceased disabled retiree's beneficiary shall also receive the amount of the participant's remaining account balance, if any, in the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund. The Department of Management Services may adopt rules necessary to administer this paragraph.

(3)  DEATH BENEFITS.--Under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program:

(a)  Survivor benefits shall be payable in accordance with the following terms and conditions:

1.  To the extent vested, benefits shall be payable only to a participant's beneficiary or beneficiaries as designated by the participant. If a participant designates a primary beneficiary other than the participant's spouse, the participant's spouse shall be notified of the designation. This requirement shall not apply to the designation of one or more contingent beneficiaries to receive any benefits remaining upon the death of the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries.

2.  Benefits shall be paid by the third-party administrator or designated approved providers in accordance with the law, the contracts, and any applicable board rule or policy.

3.  To receive benefits under this subsection, the participant must be deceased.

(b)  In the event of a participant's death, all vested accumulations as described in s. 121.4501(6), less withholding taxes remitted to the Internal Revenue Service, shall be distributed, as provided in paragraph (c), to the participant's designated beneficiary or beneficiaries, or to the participant's estate, as if the participant retired on the date of death. No other death benefits shall be available for survivors of participants under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program, except for such benefits, or coverage for such benefits, as are otherwise provided by law or are separately afforded by the employer, at the employer's discretion.

(c)  Upon receipt by the third-party administrator of a properly executed application for distribution of benefits, the total accumulated benefit shall be payable by the third-party administrator to the participant's surviving beneficiary or beneficiaries, as:

1.  A lump-sum distribution payable to the beneficiary or beneficiaries, or to the deceased participant's estate;

2.  An eligible rollover distribution on behalf of the surviving spouse of a deceased participant, whereby all accrued benefits, plus interest and investment earnings, are paid from the deceased participant's account directly to the custodian of an eligible retirement plan, as described in s. 402(c)(8)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, on behalf of the surviving spouse; or

3.  A partial lump-sum payment whereby a portion of the accrued benefit is paid to the deceased participant's surviving spouse or other designated beneficiaries, less withholding taxes remitted to the Internal Revenue Service, and the remaining amount is transferred directly to the custodian of an eligible retirement plan, as described in s. 402(c)(8)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, on behalf of the surviving spouse. The proportions must be specified by the participant or the surviving beneficiary.

This paragraph does not abrogate other applicable provisions of state or federal law providing for payment of death benefits.

(4)  LIMITATION ON LEGAL PROCESS.--The benefits payable to any person under the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program, and any contributions accumulated under such program, are not subject to assignment, execution, attachment, or any legal process, except for qualified domestic relations orders by a court of competent jurisdiction, income deduction orders as provided in s. 61.1301, and federal income tax levies.

History.--s. 9, ch. 2002-273.

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