Defined Contribution Plan

retiree benefits faqs

defined contribution Plan

Who is eligible to participate in the Plan?

All full time employees other than employees listed below, are eligible to participate in the Plan.

The employees who are not eligible are:

  • Leased employees
  • Temporary or casual employees
  • Employees hired on a contract basis
  • Poll officers and election workers who are not regular employees
  • Members of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and personnel such as attorneys in the Fulton County Legal Department who are not required by laws or the terms of their employment to work on a full-time basis for the County and who were initially employed, appointed or elected after August 1, 1988
  • Employees of the Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services, Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, or the State of Department of Corrections
  • Any assistant district attorney for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit who participates in any retirement system for the officers of employees of the State of Georgia.
  • Persons who become a judge of the State Court of Fulton County on or after July 1, 2004, or judges of the State Court of Fulton County who elected to participate in the Georgia Judicial Retirement System on or before December 31, 2004.
 

Who holds the investments in the plan?

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company holds the assets of the Plan for the benefit of covered employees and has entered into an arrangement with State Street Bank and Trust Company to provide certain services to the County that would otherwise be handled by the Trustee.

When does my account vest?

The Employer Matching Contributions, Employer Basic Contributions and any Transfer amount (and earnings thereon) allocated to your account will vest according to the following schedule, which is based on your total number of
 County Years of Vesting Service Completed   Percentage of Contributions to  Which You Are Entitled
 Less than 1 year  0%
 1 year, but less than 2 years  20%
 2 years, but less than 3 years  40%
 3 years, but less than 4 years  60%
 4 years, but less than 5 years  80%
 5 years or more  100%

Regardless of the above schedule, you will automatically become 100% vested in the Transfer amounts, Employer Matching and Employer Basic Contribution portion of your account when you reach Normal Retirement Age, or be let go in a Reduction in Force, or become disabled or die while still an employee. Normal Retirement Age is 65.

A Year of Service is a twelve consecutive month period during which you complete at least one hour of service with the County during each month. If you are gone from employment, you receive credit for any period of severance of less than 12 consecutive months. A period of severance generally means the continuous period of time you are not employed by the County beginning on the date you retire, quit, or are discharged. However, the non-vested portion of your account will be restored (unadjusted for gains or losses) if you are rehired before you have been gone for five consecutive years and you decide to make a Restoration Contribution.


When can I receive distributions from the plan?

When am I eligible to participate in the plan?

If your first day of employment with the County was on or after July 1, 1999, you are required to participate in the Plan as of your first day of employment. If your first day of employment or reemployment was before July 1, 1999, you can choose to elect to participate in this Plan or remain a Participant in the defined benefit pension plan. An election period is provided every year near the end of the first calendar quarter. Once you make this election, you cannot elect to go back into the defined benefit pension plan.
Elected officials and department heads may make an irrevocable election to not participate in the Plan by signing a waiver.
Eligible Employees enter the Plan on the later of:

  • The first day of the first pay period after July 1, 1999;
  • The first day of the first pay period on or after your date of hire; or
  • The effective date of your transfer from the defined benefit pension plan to this Plan.


A Judge of the Fulton County Superior Court of the District Attorney of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit must file an election to participate in the Plan within six months after taking office. Otherwise, he or she will not be able to participate in this Plan.

What types of contributions are made to the plan?

Contributions are made to the Plan by you and by the County. The types of contributions you and the County can make to the Plan are explained further in this section.

Employee Contributions
You must make a pre-tax employee contribution to the Plan equal to 6% of your pay. These contributions are automatically deducted from each paycheck.
 
Definition of Pay – For purposes of the Plan, your “pay” is all of your wages paid by the County and reported to you on the Form W-2 from the County. There is a limit on the amount of pay that can be taken into account each Plan Year. That amount is $230,000 for 2008. The amount is adjusted by the IRS every year and it is prorated on the basis of months for any period less than 12 months.

Rollover Contributions – You may make Rollover Contributions to the Plan. A Rollover Contribution is your account balance or benefit from a qualified retirement plan with a previous employer, an IRA, a 403(b) plan or a 457(b) governmental plan.
 
Restoration Contributions – If you receive a distribution from the Plan when you terminate employment with the County and you are not 100% vested in your account at the time of that distribution, you may forfeit a portion of your account. If you are later rehired, you may make a contribution to the Plan equal to the amount of your earlier distribution. If you make such a contribution, the amount you forfeited when you terminated employment will be returned to your
account (unadjusted for gains or losses). To qualify, you must have forfeited a portion of your account and generally must be rehired within 5 years of your termination. If you feel you meet these requirements and are interested in making a Restoration Contribution, please ask the Retirement Committee for more information.
 
Employer Contributions
Employer Basic Contributions – Each payroll period the County will make a contribution on your behalf equal to 8% of your Pay from the County for that pay period.
 
Employer Matching Contributions – If you are making voluntary contributions to a 457(b) Plan, the County will make an Employer
Matching Contribution for each payroll period equal to 50% of
the first 4% of your Pay for the Plan Year that you contribute to the 457(b) Plan. Therefore, it you are contributing 2% of your pay to a separate 457(b) Plan, the County will contribute 1% of your pay (or 50% of your contribution) to this Plan on your behalf on a payroll basis.
 
Transfer Contributions – If your Employment Date or reemployment date is before July 1, 1999, and you elected to participate in this Plan instead of remaining in the defined benefit plan, you will have a Transfer Account that is
credited with a lump sum amount from the defined benefit pension plan.

May I make withdrawals from my account while an employee?

You may elect to take an in-service withdrawal of all or part of your vested account balance once you reach age 70. In-service withdrawals are not allowed under the Plan prior to age 70. Loans from the Plan are also not permitted.


However, if you are a member of a governmental defined benefit plan outside of Fulton County, and that the Plan allows its members to purchase service credit, you may request a ONE-TIME transfer of all or part of your account in the Plan to that governmental defined benefit plan, in order to buy service credit under that plan. You can make this request even while you are still employed by Fulton County. However, any amounts transferred must be made directly by the Plan to the other governmental plan. These amounts CANNOT be paid to you to deposit with the other plan. For example, if you are a member of the State of Georgia Employee’s Retirement System (“ERS”), and you can buy service credit under the terms of ERS, you may use your vested 401(a) money in this Plan to pay for it. Fulton County will transfer the required amounts directly to ERS on your behalf. Fulton County will make this transfer for you only once while you are working for the County.

How will my distribution be made?

Termination of Employment or Retirement

If your employment with the County terminates for any reason (other than your death) or if you become disabled, you will be entitled to receive a distribution from your account. The amount of your distribution will be equal to your vested account balance, valued as of the date payment is made to you. Before the distribution can be made to you, you must submit an application to the Retirement Committee requesting a distribution. Then, the value of your account will be distributed to you in a lump sum as soon as practical after the Retirement Committee receives your request. If your vested account balance is $5,000 or less, the Plan may automatically pay your account to you.

If your vested account balance is greater than $5,000 at the time you separate from service or become disabled, you may elect to receive your distribution at any later time. Your benefit will be distributed as soon as possible after you file your election letter with the Retirement Committee requesting your distribution. If you do not file an election specifying the time of payment, your benefit will be paid to you after you reach age 65. Benefit payments must begin no later than the April 1 following the calendar year in which you reach age 701/2 or, if later, when you terminate your employment. Your benefit payment can also be “rolled over” directly to another employer’s retirement plan or an IRA. Contact one of the on-site Plan Representatives at 404-612-9048 if you are interested in a direct rollover payment.

Disability

Upon a determination that you are disabled as defined under the Plan, your account will become 100% vested and you may request a distribution of your account balance immediately. No other disability payments are made from this Plan.

How is my account in the plan invested?

You may direct the investment of all the money in your account. Such direction must be in accordance with procedures developed by the Retirement Committee. Instructions and any necessary forms will be distributed to you. If you do not make an investment election, your contributions will be allocated to a “default” fund determined by the Retirement Committee.

How are death benefits paid?

If you die before you receive any payment from the Plan, your beneficiary will receive a distribution of your entire account balance in a lump sum payment. No other death benefits are paid from this Plan. The Plan permits you to designate the beneficiary of your choice to receive your account balance in the Plan if you die. If your beneficiary is your spouse, payment will be made as soon a possible following the later of

(i) the date you would have reached age 65 if you survived or

(ii) your date of death. If you die before age 65, your spouse may elect to have benefits paid on the first day of any calendar month following your date of death.

If your beneficiary is not your spouse, your beneficiary will receive the death benefit as soon as possible after your death. However, if your beneficiary is a minor at the time of your death, the Employer may direct that payment be paid to a legal guardian, or if none, to a parent of the beneficiary or a responsible adult with whom the beneficiary maintains his residence or to the custodian for the beneficiary under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act or similar statute.