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Guide to the SUNY Retirement Programs

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Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about the plan’s withdrawals? Does SUNY make a contribution to my account? The SUNY ORP FAQ or the SUNY SRA FAQ may have the answers.

SUNY ORP FAQ

 

The Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is a defined contribution plan for certain eligible employees of SUNY. Under a defined contribution plan, the benefit at retirement is dependent upon the amount contributed and the performance of the investments within a funding vehicle. MetLife’s Financial Freedom Account (FFA) variable annuity is an approved funding vehicle for the SUNY ORP.

 

 

MetLife's Financial Freedom Account (FFA) variable annuity is a retirement savings vehicle designed to help you accumulate assets for retirement and provide you with income during retirement.

 

 

Generally, full-time faculty and professional staff members of SUNY are eligible for the ORP. Part-time faculty and staff who have "term appointments" are also eligible.

 

 

Based on current wages, new employees must contribute between 3%-6% of your salary. These contributions must be made for the length of your employment.

 

 

Catch-up contributions cannot be made to an Optional Retirement Program. You may be able to defer more of your income by purchasing another tax-deferred account, such as a voluntary 403(b). To learn more about how you can defer taxes on more of your income, speak with your benefits administrator.

 

 

Yes. Employer contribution rates vary according to the ORP membership date. SUNY employees electing ORP membership on or after April 1, 2012 (under Tier VI provisions) receive 8% of gross salary for the first seven years of active membership service, and 10% thereafter, within allowable IRS limitations.

 

 

You are immediately vested in your contributions if you have "an employer-funded retirement contract" with any of the four current ORP providers (MetLife, TIAA-CREF, VALIC, ING). All new employees are vested in the SUNY contribution after 366 days of service.

 

 

You may choose from a number of variable funding options and the Fixed Interest Account (FIA). The Financial Freedom Account provides funding options across conservative, moderate, and aggressive risk levels. It offers diversification across asset classes along with growth and value investment styles.

 

 

In-service withdrawals are generally prohibited; some exceptions apply. You can take a cash withdrawal under the following circumstances:

  • If you have separated from service.
  • If you are receiving benefits under the school's long-term disability insurance plan.
  • If you qualify for a financial hardship withdrawal. Hardship withdrawals may be made from certain pre-1990 contributions: 
    • for medical expenses for yourself, spouse and dependents subject to limitations assigned by the IRS.
    • to prevent foreclosure on or eviction from your principal residence.

Distributions will be subject to federal income tax as ordinary income.

An IRS 10% income tax penalty may apply to withdrawals made before you reach age 59½, unless you have medical expenses exceeding the tax deductible limit or you become disabled, die or separate from service after attaining age 55. You must begin receiving distributions from the ORP by the April 1st following the later of the year you retire or the year you reach age 70½ (your "required beginning date").

 

 

You can make unlimited transfers among the variable funding options. (Restrictions may apply. See the prospectus for details.)

Transfers from the Fixed Interest Account in excess of 20% of the Fixed Interest Account balance are subject to a five-year declining early withdrawal charge of 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%.

 

 

Loans are available on your ORP account. Employees may borrow up to 50% of the accumulated value of their contracts, subject to Internal Revenue Service regulations and rules promulgated by the investment providers. Current IRS regulations set a maximum aggregate loan balance of $50,000. Employees who wish to request a loan should contact the applicable investment provider(s).

 

 

The Financial Freedom Account provides a guaranteed death benefit to help protect your beneficiaries against loss should you die before the annuity payout period begins. The death benefit is the greatest of:

  1. Account balance
  2. Highest account balance as of 12/31 of any fifth contract anniversary less partial withdrawals, charges and fees, or
  3. The total of all of your purchase payments less any partial withdrawals.

In each case, the amount of the death benefit is less any outstanding loans.

 

 

When you decide to receive income, usually when you retire, the Financial Freedom Account offers several choices (see limitations below):

  • Lump sum payment.

  • A series of monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual payments under a systematic withdrawal program in an amount or percentage you select, and that you may change or stop at any time. (Note that this is not a lifetime income annuity and you may outlive your account balance under this option.)

  • A series of monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual payments beginning at your required beginning date for the amount required under IRS minimum distribution regulations. (Note that this is not an income annuity arrangement and you may outlive your account balance under this option.)

  • An irrevocable lifetime annuity payout that is guaranteed to pay you for your lifetime or, if selected, for the joint lifetimes of you and another individual.

  • An irrevocable annuity payout that makes payments for a guaranteed period you select, not to exceed your life expectancy.

Ordinary income taxes apply to withdrawals.

 

 

MetLife's FFA offers more features such as:

  • The Equity GeneratorR1, an automated investment strategy. The Equity Generator is designed for investors who do not wish to risk principal but want to potentially earn more than current fixed rates.

  • A guaranteed Minimum Distribution Service. MetLife will automatically compute the minimum withdrawal required by federal tax law for the individual Financial Freedom Account. MetLife will guarantee the calculation against federal tax penalties, based upon the information provided for this annuity only.

  • An asset allocation questionnaire. Our questionnaire can help you decide which mix of funding options is right for you, by helping you determine your investment goals, time horizon and risk level.

1 The Equity Generator is a dollar cost averaging strategy that involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuating prices. You should consider your financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels. The Equity Generator cannot guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

 

 

You will pay an annual Separate Account charge that is no more than 0.95% of your average account value. You will also pay an investment-related charge for the investment choices you select, which covers investment management fees and operating expenses. The amount of the investment-related charge varies by investment choice. See the prospectus for the specific charges.

 

 

Each quarter, you will receive a Financial Freedom Account statement containing comprehensive account information, including account performance, contributions, and withdrawals. You may also access your account information virtually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online with MetLife eSERVICESM or by calling 1-800-560-5001. You can access MetLife eSERVICESM by clicking  the eSERVICESM from the homepage.

 

SUNY SRA FAQ

 

The 403(b) Voluntary Supplemental Retirement Account (SRA) is a tax-deferred retirement program that allows eligible employees of SUNY to set aside a portion of their pay on a pre-tax basis. The contributions to the SRA may be invested in MetLife’s Financial Freedom Account (FFA) variable annuity, an approved funding vehicle for the SUNY SRA.

 

 

MetLife's Financial Freedom Account (FFA) variable annuity is a retirement savings vehicle designed to help you accumulate assets for retirement and provide you with income during retirement.

 

 

You are eligible to participate in the SRA upon employment.

 

 

You can determine the percentage of your salary you’d like to contribute in pre-tax dollars, up to the IRS limits. For 2013, the federal general limit is $17,500.

 

 

If you are age 50 or older in 2013, you can contribute an additional catch-up contribution of $5,500. After 2013, the general and catch-up contribution limits will be subject to cost of living increases.

 

 

You may choose from a number of variable funding options and the Fixed Interest Account (FIA). The Financial Freedom Account provides funding options across conservative, moderate, and aggressive risk levels. It offers diversification across asset classes along with growth and value investment styles.

 

 

You can take a cash withdrawal under the following circumstances:

  • If you have separated from service.
  • If you are receiving benefits under the school's long-term disability insurance plan.
  • If you qualify for a financial hardship withdrawal. Hardship withdrawals may be made from certain pre-1990 contributions: 
    • for medical expenses for yourself, spouse and dependents subject to limitations assigned by the IRS.
    • to prevent foreclosure on or eviction from your principal residence.

Distributions will be subject to federal income tax as ordinary income.

An IRS 10% income tax penalty may apply to withdrawals made before you reach age 59½, unless you have medical expenses exceeding the tax deductible limit or you become disabled, die or separate from service after attaining age 55. You must begin receiving distributions from the SRA by the April 1st following the later of the year you retire or the year you reach age 70½ (your "required beginning date").

 

 

You can make unlimited transfers among the variable funding options. (Restrictions may apply. See the prospectus for details.)

Transfers from the Fixed Interest Account in excess of 20% of the Fixed Interest Account balance are subject to a five-year declining early withdrawal charge of 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%.

 

 

Loans are available on your SRA account.
Employees may borrow up to 50% of the accumulated value of their contracts, subject to Internal Revenue Service regulations and rules promulgated by the investment providers. Current IRS regulations set a maximum aggregate loan balance of $50,000. Employees who wish to request a loan should contact the applicable investment provider(s).

 

 

The Financial Freedom Account provides a guaranteed death benefit to help protect your beneficiaries against loss should you die before the annuity payout period begins. The death benefit is the greatest of:

  1. The account balance
  2. The highest account balance as of 12/31 of any fifth contract anniversary less partial withdrawals, charges and fees, or
  3. The total of all of your purchase payments less any partial withdrawals.

In each case, the amount of the death benefit is less any outstanding loans.

 

 

When you decide to receive income, usually when you retire, the Financial Freedom Account offers several choices (see limitations below):

  • Lump sum payment.

  • A series of monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual payments under a systematic withdrawal program in an amount or percentage you select, and that you may change or stop at any time. (Note that this is not a lifetime income annuity and you may outlive your account balance under this option.)

  • A series of monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual payments beginning at your required beginning date for the amount required under IRS minimum distribution regulations. (Note that this is not an income annuity arrangement and you may outlive your account balance under this option.)

  • An irrevocable lifetime annuity payout that is guaranteed to pay you for your lifetime or, if selected, for the joint lifetimes of you and another individual.

  • An irrevocable annuity payout that makes payments for a guaranteed period you select, not to exceed your life expectancy.

Ordinary income taxes apply to withdrawals. 

 

 

MetLife's FFA offers more features such as:

  • The Equity GeneratorR1, an automated investment strategy. The Equity Generator is designed for investors who do not wish to risk principal but want to potentially earn more than current fixed rates.

  • A guaranteed Minimum Distribution Service. MetLife will automatically compute the minimum withdrawal required by federal tax law for the individual Financial Freedom Account. MetLife will guarantee the calculation against federal tax penalties, based upon the information provided for this annuity only.

  • An asset allocation questionnaire. Our questionnaire can help you decide which mix of funding options is right for you, by helping you determine your investment goals, time horizon and risk level.

1 The Equity Generator is a dollar cost averaging strategy that involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuating prices. You should consider your financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low-price levels. The Equity Generator cannot guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

 

 

You will pay an annual Separate Account charge that is no more than 0.95% of your average account value. You will also pay an investment-related charge for the investment choices you select, which covers investment management fees and operating expenses. The amount of the investment-related charge varies by investment choice. See the prospectus for the specific charges.

 

 

Each quarter, you will receive a Financial Freedom Account statement containing comprehensive account information, including account performance, contributions, and withdrawals. You may also access your account information virtually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online with MetLife eSERVICESM or by calling 1-800-560-5001. You can access MetLife eSERVICESM by clicking the  eSERVICESM link from the homepage.

 

To learn more about MetLife’s Financial Freedom Account or to open an account with MetLife, contact your Financial Services Representative.  Our Financial Services Representatives are available to work with you and assist you with your retirement planning needs.

Like most insurance policies and annuity contracts, MetLife's policies and contracts contain exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits, surrender charges and terms for keeping them in force. Financial Freedom Account variable annuity has limitations. There is no guarantee that any of the variable investment options in this product will meet their stated goals or objective.  The account value is subject to market fluctuations so that, when annuitized or withdrawn, it may be worth more or less than its original value.  Product availability and features may vary by state. All product guarantees are based on the financial strength and claims paying ability of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

Pursuant to Circular 230, MetLife is providing you with the following notification: The information contained in this document is not intended to (and cannot) be used by anyone to avoid IRS penalties.  This document supports the promotion and marketing of insurance products.  You should seek advice based on your particular circumstances by an independent tax advisor. 

MetLife, its agents, and representatives may not give legal or tax advice.  Any discussion of taxes herein or related to this document is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be complete or cover every situation.  Tax law is subject to interpretation and legislative change.  Tax results and the appropriateness of any product for any specific taxpayer may vary depending on the facts and circumstances.  You should consult with and rely on your own independent legal and tax advisers regarding your particular set of facts and circumstances.

In general, if any conflicts occur between this material and the plan documents that define the plan, the plan documents will govern.  All information regarding the Financial Freedom Account for SUNY ORP and SUNY SRA has been approved and reviewed by SUNY.

The Financial Freedom Account variable annuity is offered by prospectus only, which is available from your registered representative or by calling 800-560-5001. You should carefully consider the product’s features, risks, charges and expenses, and the investment objectives, risks and policies of the underlying portfolios, as well other information about the underlying funding choices. This and other information is available in the prospectus, which you should read carefully before investing. Product availability and features may vary by state. All product guarantees are based on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

The Financial Freedom Account Variable Annuity is issued by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 200 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016 on Policy form G.4333-7and distributed by MetLife Investors Distribution Company (member FINRA), 5 Park Plaza, Suite 1900, Irvine, CA  92614. Securities, including variable products, offered by MetLife Securities, Inc. (member FINRA/SIPC), 1095 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036.  Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, MetLife Securities, Inc. and MetLife Investors Distribution Company are MetLife companies. 


 
 
 
 
 

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