Summary

DISTRICT ATTORNEYS' RETIREMENT SYSTEM

(See Title 11 - Section 1-292 and Sections 1601-1702 of the Revised Statutes)

A SUMMARY OF PRINCIPAL PLAN PROVISIONS

THIS "EXPLANATION OF BENEFITS" APPLIES ONLY TO THOSE PERSONS WHO CAME INTO THE SYSTEM ON OR AFTER JULY, 1990, OR THOSE PERSONS WHO NOTIFIED THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, IN WRITING BEFORE JANUARY 1, 1991, OF THEIR INTENTION TO COME UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF ACT 381 OF 1990.*

* NOTE: Act 234 of 1993 extended the date by which members could elect to come under the provisions of Act 381 of 1990 to December 31, 1993.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

The District Attorneys' Retirement System is a defined benefit pension plan that provides retirement allowances and other benefits. The following summary of plan provisions is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a guarantee of benefits. This summary of principal plan provisions shall not be construed to create any contract or obligation on the part of District Attorneys' Retirement System (DARS) to or for the benefit of any member. This summary defers to and is controlled by the statutory provisions and any amendments thereto found in Title 11 of the Revised Statutes and any other applicable laws.

 

ADMINISTRATION

The District Attorneys' Retirement System (DARS) is operated by a Board of Trustees, an Office of the Director and an Actuary.

 

Six (6) active and contributing members of the Board of Trustees are elected by the active members of the Louisiana District Attorneys' Retirement System. One (1) retired member is also elected to the Board of Trustees by the retired members of the system. In addition, the Chairmen of both the Senate and House Retirement Committees are ex-officio members of the Board.

 

MEMBERSHIP

All District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys who earn more than the minimum salary specified by the board, are required to be members of the system as a condition of their employment. Membership is mandatory unless the person does not earn, from all sources, at least the minimum salary specified by the Board of Trustees (currently $18,000 per annum). Persons employed by the District Attorneys' Retirement System and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association are also eligible to be members of the system. Should one terminate employment in the District Attorney's office, the District Attorneys' Retirement System and/or the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, active membership ceases.

 

CONTRIBUTION RATES

Members contribute to the retirement system based on their total salary from all sources - salary paid by the State of Louisiana; by the Parish(es); or any other governing body of a parish or political subdivision of the State of Louisiana, etc. Currently, the retirement fund is financed by employee contributions of 8% of gross salary for active members. In addition, the fund receives a portion of revenue sharing funds as appropriated by the legislature and ad valorem taxes as determined by the Public Retirement Systems' Actuarial Committee up to a maximum of .2% of the ad valorem taxes shown to be collected. In the event that the contributions from ad valorem taxes and revenue sharing funds are insufficient to provide for the gross employer actuarially required contribution, the employer or government agency responsible for employer contributions are required to make direct contributions as determined by the Public Retirement Systems' Actuarial Committee (PRSAC) and affirmed by the Trustee Board.

 

CONTRIBUTION REFUNDS

Upon withdrawal from service, members not entitled to a retirement allowance are paid a refund of accumulated contributions upon request. Receipt of such a refund cancels all accrued rights in the system. If such a person is reemployed by the same District Attorney's office from which he previously resigned, he must be an active contributing member for six months before the refund can be repaid. If such a person is reemployed by a District Attorney's office other than the one by which he was previously employed, repayment can be made immediately.


RETIREMENT BENEFITS

Members who joined the system before July 1,1990, and who have elected not to be covered by the subsequent provisions, are eligible to receive a normal retirement benefit if they have ten or more years of creditable service and are at least age sixty-two, or if they have eighteen or more years of service and are at least age sixty, or if they have twenty-three or more years of service and are at least age fifty-five, or if they have thirty years of service regardless of age. The normal retirement benefit is equal to 3% of the member's average final compensation for each year of creditable service. Members are eligible for early retirement at age sixty if they have at least ten years of creditable service or at age fifty-five with at least eighteen years of creditable service. Members who retire prior to age sixty with less than twenty-three years of service credit receive a retirement benefit reduced 3% for each year of age below sixty. Members who retire prior to age sixty-two who have less than eighteen years of service receive a retirement benefit reduced 3% for each year of age below sixty-two. Retirement benefits may not exceed 100% of final average compensation.

 

For members who joined the system after July 1, 1990, or who elected to be covered by the new provisions, are eligible to receive normal retirement benefits if they are age sixty and have ten years of service credit, are age fifty-five and have twenty-four years of service credit, or have thirty years of service credit regardless of age. The normal retirement benefit is equal to 3.5% of the member's final average compensation multiplied by years of membership service. A member is eligible for an early retirement benefit if he is age fifty-five and has at least eighteen years of service credit. The early retirement benefit is equal to the normal retirement benefit reduced 3% for each year the member retires in advance of normal retirement age. Benefits may not exceed 100% of average final compensation.

 

ELIGIBILITY FOR RETIREMENT

(A) Normal Retirement

Minimum Age     Service                                                   Benefits
Any Age             30 or more years                                    Full Benefits
55                     At least 24 years but less than 30 years    Full Benefits
60                     At least 10 years but less than 24 years    Full Benefits

 

(B) Early Retirement

Minimum Age     Service                                                  Benefits
55                     At least 18 years but less than 24 years   Benefit reduced 3.00% for                                                                                      each year retirement is taken                                                                                      in advance of normal                                                                                      retirement

(C) Disability Retirement

Minimum Years  Conditions or Requirements
10                     Disability retirement subject to examination of Medical Disability Board.
                         Approval by Board of Trustees. Three and one-half (3½) percent times                          years of actual service times best average three year salary with a                          minimum of 15 years, or actual service plus number of years to 60,                          whichever is less.


FORMULA FOR COMPUTING RETIREMENT BENEFITS

The basic formula for retirement was altered by Act 515 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session. The final average compensation calculation was changed from an amount equaling the 36 highest successive months' salary to an amount equaling the 60 highest successive months' salary.

 

This change was "rolled" into effect so as not to reduce any earned benefits. Therefore, for members retiring one month after the effective date of Act 515 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, the final average compensation is based on the 37 highest consecutive months' salary; for members retiring two months after the effective date of Act 515 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session the amount is based on the 38 highest months' salary; etc.

 

Subject to the "rolling" effect above, the formula for normal retirement is 3.50% multiplied by years of creditable service, multiplied by the average salary based on the five (5) highest consecutive years, not to exceed 100% of salary.

The calculation of average salary restricts increases in non-state compensation to 110%. Fees earned in connection with official duties are not included in average final compensation.

 

EXAMPLE: Member retires at age 58 with 25 years of service and average 5
               year salary of $50,000.

 

               25 X 3.50% X $50,000 = $43,750.00/year = $3,645.83 per month

 

The formula for early retirement benefits is a modification of the normal retirement formula. Members who retire under the early retirement provisions receive a benefit which is reduced 3.00% for each year in advance of normal retirement age.

 

EXAMPLE: Member retires at age 58 with 20 years of service and average
               salary for 5 years of $50,000. With 20 years of service, the
               member's normal retirement age is 60; hence, retirement is 2
               years in advance of age 60. The member's benefit is reduced 6.0%
               and he received 94% of the normal retirement benefit.


               20 X (94% X 3.50% = 3.290%) X $50,000 = $32,900/year =
               $2,741.67 per month

 

Optional benefits are available at the time of retirement. These benefits have to be computed on an actuarial basis at that time based on the member's age and that of the named beneficiary. These options are covered under Section 8.


CREDIT FOR SERVICE

A member shall receive pro-rata service credit for any fractional years of credit, provided that no person shall receive less than the benefit accrued as of August 15, 1993.


APPLICATION FOR RETIREMENT

You must make application for retirement and other benefits. Benefit payments are not automatic. Please contact the DARS office at (225) 267-4824 for the required forms, or visit the DARS website at www.LADARS.org. Application should be filed in advance of separation from employment so there will be no delay in receiving retirement benefits.


RETIRMENT PLANS

Members may receive their benefits as a life annuity, or in lieu of such receive a reduced benefit, according to the option selected which is the actuarial equivalent of the maximum benefit.

 

Maximum Plan

The largest possible benefits are paid to the member throughout life. No benefits, or refunds of any kind, are due to the estate or a beneficiary, at the death of the member.

 

Option 1

If the member dies before receiving in annuity payments the total of the accumulated contributions, with interest, the balance is paid in a lump sum to the beneficiary or legal representative. The member may at any time nominate or change the beneficiary by written designation, duly acknowledged, and filed with the Board.

 

Option 2

The member nominates a beneficiary at the time of retirement. If the beneficiary survives the member, the same allowance as the member received at the time of his death is paid to the beneficiary throughout life. The member cannot, at a later date, nominate any other beneficiary. In the event that the designated beneficiary does not survive the member, all retirement allowance payments shall cease at the death of the member.

 

Option 3

The member nominates a beneficiary at the time of retirement. If the beneficiary survives the member, one-half of the member's allowance at the time of his death shall be continued throughout the life of the beneficiary. The member cannot, at a later date, nominate any other beneficiary. In the event the designated beneficiary does not survive the member, all retirement allowance payments shall cease at the death of the member.

 

Option 4

Any other benefit structure paid either to the member or to such person(s) as he shall have nominated, provided such other benefit, together with the reduced retirement allowance, shall not exceed the actuarial equivalent of the regular allowance. If this option is selected by the member, the proposed retirement plan should be outlined in a letter attached to the application and approved by the Board of Trustees.

 

Note:

No change in the option selected shall be permitted after the application has been officially filed, and the first check is received.


DISABILITY RETIREMENT (Not eligible for regular retirement)

Should a member become disabled and not able to work after having acquired ten years of service in the system, the member may be eligible for disability retirement benefits. The disability benefit shall be based on the lesser of:

(1) An amount equal to the applicable accrual rate multiplied by the years of creditable service; however, for computation purposes the number of years shall not be considered to be less than fifteen. OR

 

(2) The retirement benefit which would be payable assuming continued service to the age of sixty years using applicable computation factors. In no event shall the benefit exceed one hundred percent of the member's average final compensation.

Any member who has at least ten years of creditable service may be retired by the Board of Trustees providing the Medical Disability Board after a medical examination, shall certify that the member is mentally or physically incapacitated for the further performance of duty; that such incapacity is likely to be permanent; and that the member should be retired. Upon application for disability retirement the Board of Trustees must be provided with a complete medical statement from the attending physician concerning the nature and seriousness of the disability.

 

The Board of Trustees may require certain reviews during the period of disability retirement by a board appointed physician, at the disabled member's expense, to approve the continuation of the disability benefit. These reviews occur only prior to the age that the member would be eligible for regular retirement. Under certain circumstances, such reviews can lead to the dis-continuation of disability benefits.

 

The Board of Trustees may request a notarized earnings statement from disability retirees each year. The statement would include the amount of outside earnings and the amount of any outside benefits or financial awards related to the disability. Should the annual equivalent to these items exceed the member's final average compensation, the disability benefit may be reduced or discontinued.


SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS

Upon the death of any active contributing member with less than five years of creditable service, his accumulated contributions and interest thereon shall be paid to his surviving spouse, if he is married, otherwise to his designated beneficiary if any, or to the member's estate.

 

Upon the death of any active, contributing member with five or more years of creditable service, or any member with twenty-three years of service who has not retired, the following benefits shall be paid:

 

            Surviving spouse with or without minor children - The member
            shall be deemed to have been eligible to retire and to have
            exercised Option 2 benefits on behalf of the surviving spouse who
            shall be paid such benefits just as though the member had retired
            and elected Option 2 benefits on the day following death. Benefits
            shall be based on salary and creditable service through the date of
            death. However, the reduction in benefits resulting from the
            application of R.S. 16:1042 (5) and the Option 2 factors used shall
            be based on the presumption that the member continued in service
            to the date he would have first become eligible for retirement under
            R.S. 16:1042 (5).


            Surviving minor children; no surviving spouse
- The aggregate
            amount payable to all surviving minor children shall be eighty
            percent of the member's benefits accrued through his date of death.
            Such accrued benefits shall be based on salary and creditable
            service through the date of death. However, any reduction in
            benefits resulting from the application of R.S. 16:1042 (5) shall not
            be in excess of the reduction resulting from the presumption that
            the member continued in service to the date he would have first
            become eligible for retirement under R.S. 16:1042 (5). Benefits
            payable to minor children shall be paid in equal shares with shares
            reallocated as each child's benefit ceases.

 

            No surviving spouse or minor children - If a member of the fund
            has no surviving spouse or minor children, his accumulated
            contributions and interest thereon shall be paid to his designated
            beneficiary, if any, or the member's estate.


            If benefits are initially paid out under the provisions of Paragraph (1)
            of the Subsection, upon the death of the surviving spouse benefits
            shall begin under Paragraph (2) of this Subsection if applicable.


            For purposes of this Section, "surviving spouse" shall mean the
            spouse to whom the member was married and living with for at least
            one year prior to death; surviving minor children shall include
            children under the age of eighteen, children over the age of eighteen
            and under the age of twenty-three who are attending an institution
            of higher learning, and children over the age of eighteen who are
            physically and mentally disabled and who are dependent upon the
            member for support.


            In lieu of any of the benefits provided in Paragraph (1) or (2), the
            surviving spouse or minor children may at their option receive a
            refund of the member's accumulated contributions with interest
            thereon.

 

DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION (DROP) - (NOTE: EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2008, NEW ENTRIES INTO THIS PROGRAM WERE PROHIBITED.)


      DROP PROGRAM (covered under LSA-R.S. 11:1639-1643)

 

      A member was eligible to enter DROP under the following requirements:

 

            Must be eligible for normal retirement.

 

            Can elect to come under DROP only one time for a period not to

            exceed three years.

 

            DROP member is an inactive member of DARS.

 

            DROP member contributes .05% instead of the normal 7%

            contributions.

 

            Service and final average salary is fixed on the date of entry into

            DROP. Cannot add to benefits under DROP while employed during

            the three periods.

 

            Although a participant may receive salary increases while

            participating in DROP, his benefits which accrue during participation

            and his monthly retirement benefits will not reflect any such

            increases.

 

            Monthly benefits due at the time of DROP entry are deposited into

            member's DROP account each month. Upon withdrawal from DROP,

            the member can elect to receive the DROP account as:

 

                  (a) A lump sum payment of money in DROP account;
                  (b) A systematic disbursement with Board approval;
                  (c) Regular monthly payments on option elected at time of entry

                       into DROP;
                       Segregation into a sub-account


BACK- DROP (EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2008)

      In lieu of receiving a full service retirement allowance, an active

      contributing member who has accrued more years of service than are

      required for a normal retirement and which are sufficient to qualify for

      the BACK-DROP period selected may make an irrevocable election at the

      time of retirement to receive a BACK-DROP benefit. At the time of

      retirement, the member selects a BACK-DROP period specified in whole

      months. The BACK-DROP period cannot exceed the lesser of thirty-six

      months or the number of months of creditable service accrued after the

      member first became eligible for regular retirement. The BACK-DROP

      period is the most recent calendar period corresponding to the member's

      accrued creditable service. The member's BACK-DROP monthly benefit

      accrual is calculated based on the provisions applicable for service

      retirement subject to the following conditions:

 

      Accrued service at retirement, utilized for the purpose of calculating the

      BACK-DROP monthly benefit, is reduced by the BACK-DROP period.

 

      Final average compensation, utilized for the purpose of calculating the

      BACK-DROP monthly benefit, is calculated by excluding all earnings

      during the BACK-DROP period.

 

      Employer and employee contributions received by the retirement system

      during the BACK-DROP period and any interest that has accrued on

      employer and employee contributions received during the period shall

      remain with the retirement system and are not refunded to the member.

 

      The member's BACK-DROP monthly benefit is calculated based upon the

      member's age and service and the system provisions in effect on the last

      day of creditable service before the BACK-DROP period.

 

      At retirement, the member's maximum monthly retirement benefit

      payable as a life annuity is equal to the BACK-DROP monthly benefit.

 

      The member may elect to receive a reduced monthly benefit based upon

      the member's age and the age of the member's beneficiary as of the

      actual date of retirement by selecting a retirement Option.

 

      In addition to the member's monthly benefit, the member receives a

      lump-sum benefit equal to the BACK-DROP maximum monthly retirement

      benefit multiplied by the number of months selected as the BACK-DROP

      period.

 

      The member may defer receipt of all or a part of the lump-sum BACK-

      DROP payment. All amounts which remain credited to the individual's

      BACK-DROP subaccount after termination of participation in the program

      are segregated into a subaccount identified for the benefit of the

      individual, and such funds are placed in liquid asset money market

      investments at the discretion of the board of trustees. Such subaccounts

      are credited with interest at the actual rate of return earned in such

      subaccount investments.

 

      Cost-of-living adjustments are not payable based on the BACK-DROP

      account or lump-sum benefit.

 

      Upon the member's death, any remaining unpaid account balance in the

      BACK-DROP account will be paid to the member's named beneficiary or, if

      none, to the member's estate.

 

      Note: Upon the death of an active, BACK-DROP eligible member, the

      surviving spouse may exercise a BACK-DROP option.

 

COST OF LIVING INCREASES

Under certain conditions, the board of trustees is authorized to grant retired members and widows of members who have retired an annual cost of living increase of 3% of their original benefit, (not to exceed $60 per month) and all retired members and widows who are sixty five years of age and older a 2% increase in their original benefit. In lieu of other cost of living increases, the board may grant an increase to retirees in the form "X(A+B)" where "A" is equal to the number of years of credited service accrued as retirement or death of the member or retiree and "B" is equal to the number of years since death of the member or retiree to June 30 of the initial year of increase and "X" is equal to any amount available for funding such increase up to a maximum of $1. In order for the board to grant any of these increases, the system must meet certain criteria detailed in the statute related to funding status and interest earnings.

 

This resume' is not intended to fully cover every situation or all facets of the law. The laws have changed on a number of occasions, and it is possible other changes may occur in the future. For more information, please call the DARS office at (225) 267-4824.

 

                                          ***       ***       ***

 

The District Attorneys' Retirement System should provide for the many happy years you have earned and deserve. Every member should be vitally interested in maintaining an actuarially sound system to assure payment of benefits at the time of retirement.