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FAQs for Retirees

This section provides helpful answers to frequently asked questions for Retirees on everything from changing address, deposits, etc.


Benefits Information

Who should I call with questions concerning my health insurance? 

City of Austin Human Resources (HR) currently provides basic medical, dental and vision coverage to City of Austin retirees and dependents. If you sign up for these benefits at retirement, your share of the premiums are deducted from your monthly benefit payment and sent to the City for you.

You can reach City HR at (512) 974-3284. Their office is located in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Suite 600, Austin, TX 78704.

How do I update my account information? 

How do I update my address?

Retirees and vested members who are not currently working for the City must submit address changes in writing. You can update your information online via the MemberDirect portal or you can complete and submit a Change of Address form to our office.

Change of Address Form

How do I update my direct deposit information?

You can print and fill out an Direct Deposit Form, or our office can provide one to you.

Direct Deposit Form

How do I change my federal income tax withholding?

You can print and fill out an IRS Form W-4P Withholding Certificate for Pension Payments, or our office can provide one to you.

The original signed forms should be either mailed or dropped off at our office. For security reasons, we do not accept these changes over the phone, via fax, or email.


Can I change my Benefit Payment Option? 

You cannot change your payment option or your survivor after retirement. Even if you and your spouse divorce after retirement, you cannot name another survivor.

Your COAERS $10,000 taxable death benefit, however, and your City $1,000 life insurance benefits can always be updated and changed.

Will I receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)? 

The latest information on Cost of Living Adjustments is found here.

More Information
Each year, the Board of Trustees obtains a report from its actuary concerning the feasibility of a cost of living adjustment. By law, an adjustment may be granted only if the actuary recommends it and certifies in writing that the adjustment would likely be sustainable. The actuary could not recommend a cost of living adjustment. Accordingly, the Board and City Council cannot legally authorize an adjustment.

The ongoing loss of purchasing power for retirees continues to be of concern to the Board of Trustees. They have worked diligently to develop a comprehensive funding policy to both set forth the mechanics of measuring the financial health of COAERS and to outline the conditions under which a cost-of-living adjustment could be considered. Although the point in time at which a cost-of-living adjustment can be recommended remains uncertain, we are on a path that will eventually achieve that goal. 

My spouse/survivor has died, what do I need to do? 

Please call our office at (512) 458-2551 as soon as possible to report the death of your survivor.

If you selected a joint and survivor option at retirement (Option I, II, III) but not a joint and last survivor option (Option IV), your monthly benefit payment will increase or “pop up” to your life annuity amount. The increase occurs only after we receive your beneficiary's certified death certificate, and is not retroactive to the date of death.

What happens if I get a divorce? 

Texas is a community property state, so any COAERS benefits you earn during marriage may be divided by a court in a divorce proceeding. If, during a divorce proceeding, it is determined that you will keep 100% of your COAERS benefit, we do not need any paperwork from you. However, if it is determined that you and your spouse will be dividing your COAERS benefit, you will need to submit a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a special legal order which is signed by the judge who has jurisdiction over your divorce. It tells us what portion of your retirement contributions or monthly retirement benefit to pay to your spouse and the form of payment (lump sum or annuity) after your divorce is final.

For COAERS to pay benefits to a former spouse (also called an alternate payee), the QDRO must meet specific requirements. QDROs that do not meet COAERS requirements will not be honored, which could result in delays and additional legal costs. A model QDRO form is available on the link below for attorneys to use to draft the QDRO correctly. It is strongly recommended that you or your attorney present the QDRO to us prior to the finalization of your divorce. Our Member Services Specialists are also available to discuss the effects a QDRO can have on your contributions or monthly retirement benefit. Just contact us to set up an appointment.

To view the COAERS Board Approved Policy on QDROs, follow this link. For a Sample QDRO form, click here.

I need help deciding what is best for me and my family. What type of advice does your staff provide? 

COAERS staff will advise you concerning the benefits available to you and your family. COAERS does not provide advice or recommendations concerning financial, estate planning, tax, investment, or legal issues. You should consult with qualified independent professionals regarding these issues.


Retirees Returning to Work

Can I return to work for the City? 

If you are rehired with the City of Austin and have an employment status other than a regular full-time employee, you can work up to 1,508 hours in any rolling 12-month period while receiving your retirement benefit. If the hours you work exceed 1,508 hours in any rolling 12-month period, your benefit payment will be suspended.

If you are under 55 years of age at retirement, you must wait 90 days after your retirement date to return to work, and you cannot have a pre-determined rehire agreement to return to work for the City. Otherwise, your benefit payment will be suspended for the duration of your reemployment.

If a retiree goes to work in a job that is not with the City, it does not affect your beneft.

If I'm a retiree who has returned to work part-time, does any paid sick leave count against my 1,508-hour rolling limit? 

Yes, sick leave is paid leave, it is counted as compensation against the 1,508-hour rolling limit. Texas state law governs this policy area and states that COAERS shall suspend the retirement allowance of a retired member who resumes employment -- if the member works for, or is compensated by, an employer for more the 1,508 hours in any rolling 12-month period. COAERS has this same provision in section 20.5(c) of the Benefits Administration Operating Procedures for the membership. 

Please visit the link below for more information: 

Benefits Administration Operating Procedures.pdf
Does the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), enacted in April 2020, affect my 1,508-hour rolling limit? 

The FFCRA requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  If a retiree returns to work and receives paid leave under the FFCRA, those hours will be counted against the 1,508-hour rolling limit.

Is there an exception to the 1,508-hour rolling limit due to the COVID-19 pandemic? I’d like to work hours more to help during the pandemic. 

No, there is no exceptions to the rolling limit during COVID-19 response. The 1,508-hour rolling limit still applies to retirees working part-time for the City of Austin after retirement. Whether you’re seeking to assist the City in the ongoing crisis, return to full-time work or volunteer, here are a few options to consider. 

Contact the City of Austin

Only the City of Austin can decide on the re-employment status of a retiree, so it is best to contact your supervisor or HR department liaison first to determine if you are eligible to help.

Returning to Work Full Time

If you return to full-time work, your current pension benefits would be suspended until your full-time service ends. You can reapply for retirement to resume your benefits when your full-time service concludes. At that point, COAERS would recalculate your retirement benefit. Your benefit will never decrease, however, there is a chance you could enhance your benefit depending on your additional Service Credit earned. 

Volunteer in the Community

There are no prohibitions to volunteering your time with the City of Austin, local organizations or services. Contact your supervisor for more information.