Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply for a benefit when I am ready to retire?
Submit your retirement application to the Retirement Office before leaving employment or within 30 days of your termination of employment with the City. (The Retirement Office recommends that you make your application at least 60 days in advance of your projected retirement date.)
How do I prove that I am disabled?
Come to the Retirement Office to obtain a copy of “Procedures for Applying for Disability Retirement”. You are responsible for supplying the supporting medical documentation from your doctor.
Do I receive credit for unused sick leave?
Yes. While in active employment, you accrue sick leave credit. At retirement, you will receive pension service credit for any sick leave you have not used. However, there are certain restrictions on how this service can be used.
Do I receive credit for military service?
It depends. If you paid contributions to the Trust during your absence, then that period of military service is recognized as credited service for pension purposes. If you did not pay contributions, you do not receive pension service credit during your absence. You may elect to receive service credit for your military service that was for active duty, by repaying your employee contributions (without interest).
Can I withdraw from the Plan and rely on my own savings for retirement?
No, once you begin participation in the Trust you may not withdraw. Please note that if you terminate your employment after becoming eligible for an Early Retirement benefit, and you choose to withdraw your contributions from the Trust, you will forfeit your right to a deferred benefit under the plan.
Can I borrow money against my contributions to the pension fund?
No. You may not obtain loans using your contributions to the Trust.
Does the return on the Plan's investments affect the size of my benefit?
No. Your benefit is determined according to a benefit formula. The interest earned by the investments does not affect the amount of the benefit.
What happens to my retirement benefits upon divorce?
If retirement benefits are divided, you must submit a copy of your divorce decree including a Qualified Domestic Relations Order once your divorce becomes final.
Who administers the Plan?
The Board of Trustees is composed of two members of City Council, one of whom may include the mayor, one City retiree appointed by the Mayor, four City employees elected by members of the Fund, and two other mayoral appointees who are not officers or employees of the City. The Board, in turn, appoints committees to oversee the Retirement Trust's investments and actuarial valuations. Each elected member serves a four-year term, and each appointed member serves a two-year term. For board appointments after April 2018, no City Council, citizen, or retiree member appointee may hold a Board position for more than 8 years throughout their lifetime. There shall be no limitation as to the number of years an elected individual may serve on the Board. Trustees receive no compensation for their work on the Board. The Board hires administrative personnel, as needed, including an Executive Director and staff.
Can I voluntarily increase my contribution to the Pension Fund?
No, the employee pension contribution is prescribed by the Pension Ordinance as a fixed percentage of your pay, and can only be changed for all participants by an Amendment to the Ordinance by City Council.
How do I get a refund of my contributions when I terminate employment with the City of El Paso?
You must complete an application in the Retirement Office upon terminating employment with the City of El Paso.
How long after I terminate employment, and apply for a refund of contributions does it take to receive the refund?
The refund process takes from six to eight weeks until the refund check is mailed.
Is a refund of my pension contributions taxable?
Your contributions are currently deducted from your pay on a pre-tax basis. The pre-tax contributions are taxable income to you unless you transfer or “roll over” these contributions to another pre-tax account. Interest may be paid on contributions if you have contributed to the Retirement Trust for at least five-years (for participants hired before 9-1-11 and for at least 7-years for participants hired after 9-1-11). The interest you may be entitled to receive is taxable but can also be transferred or “rolled over” to another tax qualified account to keep from paying taxes now. Contributions taken before 6-1-07 were deducted from your pay after taxes and are typically not taxable. However, please consult your tax advisor regarding any distribution from the Retirement Trust for more details.
Is there a maximum amount of pension service credit I can receive for my unused accrued sick leave?
No. There is no limit on the amount of credit you can receive. You are entitled to one additional month of pension service credit for each 22 days of unused sick leave. Additionally you may use up to 6 months of your unused sick leave credit towards meeting the Pension Plan’s vesting requirements (7, 10, 30, 35 years).
Will my monthly pension amount be reduced if I choose the retirement “optional settlement” that provides 100% to my surviving spouse in the event of my death?
Yes. An actuarial factor (based on life expectancy for your age and your spouse’s age at the time of retirement) will be applied to the normal calculation if you choose the option that continues 100% of your pension benefit for the remainder of your surviving spouse’s life or until she remarries. Because these actuarial factors are applied to the different optional settlements, all forms of retirement are expected to provide an actuarially equivalent amount.