Edited by LM 7/27/22

Defined Benefit
Retirement Resources

Get prepared for retirement with some helpful resources.

Reality Check

  • Find helpful financial information based on where you are in life, explore financial information from trusted resources, and use tools to make more informed financial decisions at mymoney.gov .
  • To see how your retirement-spending strategy would have held up historically, go to early-retirement.org .
  • You can also test your retirement-spending strategy by using T. Rowe Price Associates' retirement-income calculator at troweprice.com/ric/RIC .
  • As you tote up your retirement income, also get a handle on your likely Social Security benefits. To that end, head over to ssa.gov/OACT/ANYPIA .
  • When should you take Social Security? How much can you safely spend each year in retirement? To answer these questions intelligently, you need some sense for how long you might live. Take the quiz at livingto100.com .
  • Want to see how quickly you could pay off your mortgage if you added $50 or $100 to each monthly check? bankrate.com .


Medicare is a health insurance program for:

  • People age 65 or older
  • People under age 65 with certain disabilities
  • People of all ages with end-stage renal disease

The AlaskaCare Retiree Health Plan assumes that you and your eligible dependents are enrolled in both Parts A and B of Medicare at age 65. However, you may become eligible for Medicare before age 65 if you have certain disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease. Once enrolled, AlaskaCare coordinates with Medicare to pay most of your medical expenses.

  1. Medicare Part A

    Inpatient hospitalization, skilled nursing facilities, services provided by hospitals and other facilities, and certain home health care and hospice services.

    Most people are eligible for premium-free Part A. Social Security will send you a letter if you are not eligible for Part A. You must provide a copy of that letter to the AlaskaCare health claims administrator, and AlaskaCare will continue to pay as your primary plan for Part A services

  2. Medicare Part B

    Physician and other outpatient medical services, ambulatory surgery center services, medical equipment, and ambulance services.

    Everyone is eligible and must pay a premium for Part B, whether or not you are eligible for Part A.

  3. Medicare Part C

    You are not required to take part in Medicare part C. Part C plans are Medicare Advantage plans provided by private insurers for members who live outside the State of Alaska. They cover the same services as Medicare Part A and B combined as well as some supplemental benefits. The AlaskaCare plan acts as a supplemental plan for Medicare eligible retirees.

  4. Medicare Part D

    Medicare eligible retirees and/or dependents will be automatically enrolled in the AlaskaCare enhanced Employer Group Waiver Program (EGWP). The AlaskaCare enhanced EGWP is a group Medicare prescription drug plan that provides the same prescription benefits as provided to non-Medicare eligible retirees and dependents, while maximizing federal subsidies.

    You do not need to enroll into an individual Medicare Part D plan, and for most members there is no additional premium for prescription drug coverage under AlaskaCare.

    However, certain high wage earners will be charged a Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) surcharge for prescription drug coverage. You must provide a copy of the notice from Social Security that indicates you are required to pay an IRMAA to the Division, and AlaskaCare will reimburse you for the Part D IRMAA surcharge.

Level Income Option (PERS Tier I & II only)

If you chose the Level Income Option (LIO) at your retirement you agreed to receive a higher retirement benefit from your retirement date until age 65, and a reduced amount for the rest of your life.

You will be notified prior to your 65th birthday that your benefit will be reduced, regardless of the amount of any other retirement benefits, including Social Security, that you may be eligible to receive.

The LIO does not provide any survivor benefits. All benefits, including health insurance, will cease at your death.

Alaska Cost-of-Living Allowance

The Alaska Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) was established in 1966 as an allowance to assist retirees, who elect to remain in state, to defray the higher cost of living in Alaska. The amount of COLA a PERS member receives is 10% of their base retirement benefit (or a minimum of $50 per month, whichever is larger). The amount of COLA a TRS member receives is 10% of their base retirement benefit (no minimum amount).If you reside in Alaska after you retire, you may receive COLA in addition to your regular monthly benefit.

The following benefit recipients are eligible for COLA:

  • Members who first entered the PERS before July 1, 1986, and their survivors;
  • Members who first entered the PERS after June 30, 1986, but before July 1, 2006, and their survivors, if they are at least age 65;
  • Members who first entered the TRS before July 1, 1990, and their survivors;
  • Members who first entered the TRS after June 30, 1990, but before July 1, 2006, and their survivors, if they are at least age 65; and
  • All disabled members receiving PERS or TRS disability benefits, regardless of age or date of hire.

Receipt of COLA is not automatic. If you wish to receive COLA, you must submit an Application for Cost-of-Living (form 02-1896) .

“Residing in Alaska” means domiciled and physically present in Alaska. A domicile is that place where you have your true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment and to which, whenever you are absent, you intend to return. An absence, which exceeds 90 days, constitutes a break in residency for COLA purposes.

Post Retirement Pension Adjustments (PRPAs)

The automatic Post Retirement Pension Adjustment (PRPA) is payable to eligible Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) retirees when the cost of living increases based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for Anchorage.

Once each year the administrator shall increase benefit payments to eligible disabled members and to retirees age 60 or older receiving benefits under PERS or TRS in the preceding calendar year, and to persons who have received benefits under PERS for at least 5 years or TRS benefits for at least 8 years as of July 1.

The PRPA is calculated, effective July 1 each year, by multiplying the recipient's base benefit, including past PRPAs, times:

  • 75% of the cost of living increase in the preceding calendar year or 9%, whichever is less, if the recipient is at least age 65 or on PERS disability on July 1; or
  • 50% of the cost of living increase in the preceding calendar year or 6%, whichever is less, if the recipient is at least age 60 on July 1, or under age 60 if the recipient has been receiving PERS benefits for at least 5 years or has been receiving TRS benefits for at least 8 years as of July 1.

Eligible recipients, who have not received pension benefits during the entire preceding calendar year, will receive a prorated PRPA.

In Alaska, retirement benefits from the following retirement systems are all considered to be jointly “owned” by members and their spouses. Upon a divorce or dissolution of marriage, these benefits may be divided between you and your spouse or awarded to you only.

Generally, retirement benefits are considered jointly held assets in a similar manner as the house, the car, bank accounts, or other items of value. But, at times, benefits are not divided if the member and spouse have agreed to exchange other assets instead of splitting the retirement benefits.

If you retain full “ownership” of your benefit, your property settlement must clearly state your account is not to be divided and you have full ownership-- specify the retirement plan by name. If you have multiple accounts (like PERS, SBS-AP, and DCP), your divorce or dissolution documents should individually name each account and clearly declare your former spouse has no claim against that specific account. Do not group your various accounts together under a generic term such as “Retirement Benefits.”

You must submit to the division court-certified copies of your divorce or dissolution documents, including any attachments that may address your retirement plans. If the documents show your benefits were not split, your accounts will be cleared from any attachment from your divorce or dissolution. If your benefits were divided, additional information will be needed.

Dividing benefits is a legal issue and many use the services of lawyers. Whether you obtain legal counsel or prepare the documents yourself, all of the legal requirements involving your benefits must be resolved before anything can be paid. No funds will be disbursed to you from any of your accounts until all these issues have been resolved - even if the responsibility to file the necessary documents rests with your former spouse.


PERS, TRS, JRS, and NGNMRS all allow a former spouse to have an entitlement to a portion of the member’s benefit. However, certain rules apply:

  • The accounts are not divided at the time of the divorce or dissolution;
  • The member retains the right to decide when to retire and has great latitude relative to the retirement option elected;
  • The former spouse (called the “alternate payee”) is entitled to only some portion of the member’s monthly benefit payment;
  • The alternate payee’s portion is paid only when the member receives benefits; and
  • The alternate payee may not name beneficiaries for continued payments after his or her death.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)

A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a specialized court order that is usually processed at the same time as the divorce or dissolution (processing could happen later after the final decree). This document authorizes the Division of Retirement and Benefits to make payments to both you and your former spouse.

Remember, QDROs are necessary only if your benefits are to be divided, and one QDRO is needed for each benefit!

You do not have to submit a QDRO if you retain full ownership to your account. Make sure your divorce or dissolution documents clearly state your former spouse has no claim against your account.

Already Retired

If you are already receiving benefits from the PERS, TRS, JRS, or NGNMRS, a QDRO may be filed dividing your monthly benefit. Although your former spouse will receive payments directly from the retirement system, your retirement account will not be split. The payments may be expressed as one of the following:

  • A specified amount;
  • A percentage of your total benefit; or
  • A formula using years of marriage or dates of your marriage.

Survivor Benefits

When you retired, you had the opportunity to elect a survivor’s option. If you chose a survivor option at retirement, your spouse at retirement is the only person eligible for this benefit after you die. A QDRO is not necessary for your former spouse to receive these survivor benefits, and you cannot name another person to receive them. If you did not select a survivor option at retirement, you cannot do so now!

In cases where a divorce or dissolution happens after retirement, the spouse at retirement is the only survivor, and he or she may get retirement system paid medical coverage after your death.

Dividing SBS-AP or DCP

The Alaska Supplemental Annuity Plan (SBS-AP) and Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) accounts can be split under a separate interest QDRO:

  • The accounts are divided soon after the divorce or dissolution (on acceptance of a qualified domestic relations order - QDRO);
  • The alternate payee (your former spouse) has full ownership of his or her own separate account;
  • Your alternate payee may withdraw funds from that account as soon as it has been established; and
  • Your alternate payee may name beneficiaries to his or her separate account as long as the State of Alaska maintains that account.

The SBS-AP and the DCP both require a separate interest QDRO. Once accepted by the Division, your account is divided and a new account is set up in your alternate payee’s name. The alternate payee may keep his or her account invested through the State of Alaska just like other participants in the plan. The other options are:

  • Begin receiving payments under one or more of the payment options;
  • Have the entire account paid directly to the alternate payee; or
  • Directly roll the account balance into an approved private individual retirement account (IRA).

If the account is left with the State, your alternate payee can control the investments and name beneficiaries to the account in the event of his or her death much like all other participants.

The amount the QDRO specifies to be transferred from your account to your alternate payee’s account can be expressed as:

  • A particular set dollar figure as of a certain date;
  • A percentage of the account as of a certain date;
  • A formula based on years or dates of the marriage.

Empower Retirement Services processes all payments for the PERS/TRS Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DCR), the Supplemental Annuity (SBS-AP) plan and Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP). You should contact Empower Retirement Services for disbursement forms, information on how to complete them, and for the status of pending payments. For PERS tiers I, II, & III and TRS tiers I & II members of the Defined Benefit Plan (DB) you can roll pretax funds into the DB plan ONLY to pay indebtedness. Contact the Division for counseling.

Page Last Modified: 09/19/22 14:44:56