The Judges Retirement Plan covers a judge or justice in courts established by the Minnesota Constitution. The Judges Plan provides retirement, survivor, and disability coverage.

Once retired, a judge will receive a monthly retirement benefit for life with potential post-retirement increases. Depending on the option selected at retirement, the judge's survivor(s) may be eligible to receive a lifetime survivor benefit upon the judge's death.

To learn more, see:

Contribution Rates

Employee and employer contribution rates are established by Minnesota law. Contributions are a percentage of pay.

First elected/appointed: Employee Contribution Employer Contribution
BEFORE July 1, 2013 (Tier 1) 9% 22.5%
AFTER June 30, 2013 (Tier 2) 7% 22.5%

The employer contribution is higher because the Judges Plan was pay-as-you-go until 1991. The larger employer contribution is to bring the Plan to full funding.

Eligibility (Vesting)

Eligibility to collect a monthly retirement benefit (or what we call vesting) is based on years of service. You are eligible for monthly benefits after five or more years of service.

First elected/appointed: Normal Retirement Early Retirement* Mandatory Retirement**
BEFORE July 1, 2013 (Tier 1) Age 65 Age 60 Age 70
AFTER June 30, 2013 (Tier 2) Age 66 Age 60 Age 70

* Benefits are reduced using an early retirement factor if retiring prior to normal retirement age.

** Judges with at least one year of service at mandatory retirement age can receive a benefit.

Calculating Your Retirement Benefit

Calculating your retirement benefit is a simple formula defined in Minnesota law. The first piece we consider is the length of service. Then we calculate the high-five average salary. We take these two pieces and apply it to a benefit formula to determine the retirement benefit.

Other factors that determine the monthly benefit are the retirement age and the benefit option selected at retirement.

Service Credit

Service credit -- or allowable service -- is the credit you earn each month retirement deductions are withheld from your salary. Service credit is important because it is used in a formula to determine your monthly retirement benefit. The more service you have and the higher your salary, the higher your monthly retirement benefit will be.

A number of factors may impact your service credit including:

Beneficiary & Survivor Benefit

If you die while serving, or leave the bench but maintain a deferred benefit, your surviving spouse is eligible for a benefit. This monthly payment is equal to 60% of the full retirement benefit you earned as of the date of death, or equal to 25% of your high-five salary, whichever is larger. Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary for this survivor benefit.

If you are at least 60 and have five or more years of service as a judge and die, your spouse is eligible for the Joint-and-Survivor 100% benefit.

If you have no spouse but are survived by a dependent child or children, your survivor benefit will be paid to the child(ren) or their guardian.

Payments continue until the dependent child is age 18, or age 22 if they are a full-time student. For more information, call MSRS at 1-800-657-5757.

If you have no surviving spouse or dependent children, then your beneficiary, or if none, your estate, receives a lump-sum refund of your deductions plus interest compounded annually. To name a beneficiary, please complete a Beneficiary Designation form (pdf). A beneficiary designation is effective upon receipt by MSRS and supersedes all prior designations. A valid beneficiary designation must be on file with MSRS prior to your death.

Disability Benefit

As a member of the Judges Retirement Plan, you have disability protection. This is an important benefit since it will pay you disability benefits for your lifetime, or until you are no longer disabled.

To learn more, see Disability Benefit.