If you are approved for disability retirement benefits, you must choose one of four benefit payment options. You will not begin receiving disability benefits until you have selected a benefit option. Although you may wait until you have an estimate of benefits before selecting an option, the division suggests that you complete your option selection form as soon as possible. If you were to die before filing your option selection form and you had no qualified joint annuitant, under Florida law, your selection would default to Option 1, providing no continuing benefit to your beneficiary. You may change your option selection at any time during the processing of your application, but your retirement option may not be changed once your benefit payment is cashed or deposited.
If you are married and you select Option 1 or 2, your spouse must acknowledge your option selection in writing. If you select Option 2, 3, or 4, your benefit will be actuarially reduced12 from the Option 1 amount, but the total benefit provided under each of these options is actuarially equal to what you alone would be expected to receive under Option 1. Continuing lifetime monthly benefits under Options 3 and 4 may be paid only to a person who qualifies as a joint annuitant.
The reduction is based on separate actuarial factors for disability retirement.
The actuarial factors used to calculate disability benefits can result in a lower Option 2, 3 or 4 retirement benefit as compared to the same optional benefit computed using the actuarial factors that apply to service retirement. The difference primarily results from different mortality rates and the value of not having disability benefits reduced for early retirement and may be offset by the existence of a minimum benefit. If your service retirement benefit is higher than your disability retirement benefit, you will be provided comparative benefit estimates based on both service and disability retirement and will have the option of selecting the benefit that is best for you.
Options 1 and 2
Option 1: Provides a monthly benefit payment to you for your lifetime and continued disability. This option does not provide a continuing benefit to a beneficiary. Upon your death, the monthly benefit will stop, and your beneficiary will be eligible to receive only a refund of contributions you paid, if any, which exceed the amount you received in benefits.
Option 2: Provides a reduced monthly benefit payment to you for your lifetime and continued disability. However, if you die within 10 years (120 months) of retiring, your beneficiary will receive a monthly benefit payment in the same amount you were receiving for the balance of the 120-month period. If you die after 10 years of disability retirement, no further benefits will be payable.
Options 3 and 4
Under Options 3 and 4, you may provide a continuing benefit for your spouse or other dependent beneficiary who is your joint annuitant. To qualify as your joint annuitant, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Be your spouse;
- Be your parent or grandparent (as long as you provide at least half of the individual’s financial support);
- Be your natural or legally adopted child who is either under age 25 or who is physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support