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Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Retirement FAQs

Employees and retirees are the building blocks of LANL's success. Our employees get to contribute to the most pressing issues facing the nation.

Click on a topic to view all questions in that category.

Flexible spending accounts
What happens to my flexible spending accounts (HCRA & DCRA) when I retire?
HCRA: Upon your termination of employment, your participation in the Health Flexible Spending Account (HCRA) ceases, and no further salary redirection contributions is contributed on your behalf. However, you will be able to submit claims for health care expenses that were incurred before the end of the period for which payments to the HCRA have already been made. Your further participation is governed by "Continuation Coverage Rights under COBRA" if COBRA coverage is elected.
DCRA: You are still able to request reimbursement for qualifying dependent care expenses (DCRA) for the remainder of the Plan Year from the balance remaining in your dependent care account at the time of termination of employment. However, no further salary redirection contributions are made on your behalf after you terminate. You must submit DCRA claims within 195 days (July 13th) after the end of the Plan Year in which termination occurs.
Health & welfare benefits
When do my active benefits end?
For medical, dental and vision, you are covered under your active benefits through the last day of the month following the month in which you retiree (i.e. Retire date = July 2nd you are covered through August 31st). All other coverage ends at the end of the pay period in which your termination occurs.
Am I qualified for retiree health & welfare benefits?
You qualify for LANS retiree health & welfare benefits if you meet the following eligibility requirements:
  • You must retire, be collecting your monthly annuity, and enroll or suspend your medical benefits within 120 calendar days after your separation date. If you miss the 120 window of opportunity, you will never be eligible or allowed to enroll in LANS health & welfare benefits again.
  • Age 50 and 10 years of service, or
  • 5 years of service and meets the "Rule of 75" – age plus service equals 75
  • Must have had continuous coverage
Does LANS pay any part of my health & welfare benefits?
LANS pays a portion of your medical and dental benefits based on a graduated eligibility table if you are TCP1, elected TCP2 at transition, or are a Parent Company Transfer and meet the eligibility requirements.
  • UC Transitioning Employees who properly elected TCP1 or TCP2 upon transfer to LANS, and who were hired in a career position with UC before January 1, 1990, and who apply for LANS health and welfare benefits within 120 days of termination from LANS, receive 100% of the LANS maximum contribution. The Rule of 75 does not apply.
  • Employees hired after June 1, 2006 do not receive medical subsidy for health & welfare benefits. LANS provides Access ONLY benefits to these employees. This means LANS does NOT pay any part of your medical benefits (medical, dental, vision).
  • Related links:
What LANS benefits may I be eligible for when I retire?
  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Legal insurance
  • AD&D insurance – Enroll within 31-days of termination
  • Life insurance – can be converted within 31-days of termination
What happens to my health & welfare benefits if I terminate but do not begin my pension?
You must begin your LANS or UC pension within 120 days of termination from LANS to be eligible for LANS health & welfare benefits.
Do I need to be covered by Medicare if I am eligible?
Medicare Part A& B Coverage: LANS requires each retiree, disabled member, and enrolled family member who is eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B when first eligible. Those who do not comply, are terminated from coverage under the LANS medical benefit program and are not eligible to re-enroll.
Medicare Part D: LANS requests that you do not enroll in Medicare Part D since LANS medical coverage includes a drug benefit.
Sick leave, vacation, return to work
What happens to my sick leave when I retire?
TCP1: If you start your pension benefit within 120 calendar days of separation date, any unused sick leave is converted to service credit (hours of unused sick leave/2080 = years).
TCP2: Employees are not paid for unused sick leave. This leave is lost at time of termination.
What happens to my vacation leave when I retire?
Your vacation leave is paid out at termination or you may use your vacation time to extend your retirement date.
Can I return to work after I retire or terminate my employment?
Can I return to work after I retire/terminate?

To ensure compliance with IRS pension distribution rules while allowing former employees and managers the flexibility to meet the institution’s needs, the following return to work rules have been implemented.

To comply with IRS rules, you can’t discuss reemployment until after you receive your first monthly retirement payment, or 30 days after you’ve ended LANS employment – whichever is later – if you haven’t reached normal retirement age (Age 60).

To be hired after you’ve retired/terminated, the Laboratory Integrated Stewardship Council (LISC) has implemented the following rules:

  1. Returning as a Lab Associate:
    • TCP-1: 90 day waiting period
    • TCP-2: No waiting period
  2. Age <60
    Returning as: Casual, Limited Term, Regular, Contractor, Union or Consultant:
    • TCP-1: 180 day waiting period
    • TCP-2: 180 day waiting period
  3. Age >60
    Returning as: Casual, Limited Term, Regular, Contractor, Union or Consultant:
    • TCP-1: 90 day waiting period
    • TCP-2: No waiting period
What happens to my retiree benefits if I return to work?

If you plan return to work at LANS, several of your Retiree and Employee benefits may be impacted, including but not limited to:

  • suspension of Pension Benefits
  • suspension of Retiree Health & Welfare Benefits (medical, dental, vision and legal)
  • limited ability to participate in the LANS 401(k) Plan

Please see the applicable Summary Plans Descriptions or email if you have questions.

What do I need to know about my 401(k) savings plan?
  • Withdraw with no penalties at age 59 ½
  • May leave money in the Plan if balance is >$5,000
  • Can no longer contribute since you are not an active employee
  • Must take minimum distributions at age 70 ½
  • Distributions options: partial, single sum, periodic payments, rollover
  • Active loans – Can be paid in full upon termination or can continue to make repayments under the procedures established by the Plan Administrator
Capital Accumulation Payment (CAP)
What is a Capital Accumulation Payment (CAP) account and do I have one?
If you were a UCRP member in 1992, 1993, 1994, 2002 and/or 2003, you may have a separate account balance in UCRP known as the Capital Accumulation Payment (CAP). These accounts consist of money that the University allocated to eligible Plan members on various dates during those years to supplement other UCRP benefits. The allocations were based on a percentage of your covered compensation for a period prior to the allocation date. CAP balances earn interest at an annual percentage yield. You can see your CAP balance online at UCRP's At Your Service or by calling customer service for additional details.
When can I take a distribution from my CAP account or roll-over my CAP balance?
You must take a distribution of your CAP balance when you retire, go on UCRP disability, or when you leave UC employment if you are not vested. If you are a vested member of UCRP, you may leave your CAP balance on deposit until you retire from UCRP.
When is my pension benefits start date?
Your benefits as a retiree start on the first of the month after the month in which you retiree.
How can I find out what my pension payment will be when I retire?
TCP1: Perform retirement calculations by accessing a pension calculator at Your Pension Resources (YPR) or by calling AonHewitt.
TCP2: Perform retirement calculations by accessing a pension calculator at UCRP's At Your Service or by calling customer service.
What are my payment options under the LANS TCP1 pension or the UCRP pension plan?
Single Life Annuity: A monthly benefit payment that continues for the rest of your lifetime. No benefit payments are made after your death. If you are married and want to elect this option, you must have your spouse's written consent. Consent must be witnessed by a Plan representative or notary.
Joint & Contingent Annuity: Member receives a monthly benefit payment for the rest of their life and if you die, your contingent annuitant receives a benefit of 100%, 75%, 66 2/3, or 50% of your monthly benefit for the rest of their life depending on the payment option you choose at the time of retirement. If you are married and you want to name any beneficiary other than your spouse, you must have your spouse's written consent. Consent must be witnessed by a Plan representative or notary.
Lump Sum (only applicable to UCRP)
What happens to my pension if I die before I retire?
Not eligible for retirement at time of death: If you are an active member and have completed at least 2 years of vesting service, or if you have completed 5 years of vesting service but are not eligible for early retirement (age 50 with 5 years of vesting service) when you die, the Plan pays a "Qualified Preretirement Survivor Annuity" (QPSA) to your surviving spouse, provided you have been married to your spouse for at least the one-year period immediately preceding your death. If you are not married or have been married less than one year, no QPSA benefit is provided. The QPSA is the survivor’s portion of the 50% joint and contingent annuity.
Eligible for retirement at time of death: If you are eligible to retire when you die (age 50 with at least 5 years of vesting service) but have not yet begun to receive monthly payments from the Plan, a lifetime retirement benefit is payable to your surviving spouse. The benefit is payable beginning the day after your death, or a later date designated by your spouse. The Qualified Preretirement Survivor Annuity (QPSA) is the survivor’s portion of the 100% joint and contingent annuity.
Also, a temporary Social Security supplement is payable to your surviving spouse while he or she is receiving a preretirement survivor benefit until the day you would have reached age 65, unless your spouse provides proof satisfactory to administrator that you are a member who was not eligible for benefits coordinated with Social Security.
Single Sum Death Benefit: If you die while an active, retired or terminated vested member, your beneficiary is eligible to receive a $7,500 death benefit from the Plan. If you were a participant in the UCRP before October 1, 1990, your beneficiary is eligible to receive the greater of the $7,500 payment described in the preceding sentence, or $1,500 plus one month final salary based on the member's full time equivalent compensation for the last complete calendar month of employment. The single sum death benefit is in addition to benefits continued under applicable surviving spouse payment methods, if any.
Return of Member Contributions: The Plan provides that any remaining balance of your member contributions after all annuity payments are completed, is paid to your beneficiary in a single lump sum. Additionally, if you terminate before becoming vested in the portion of your benefit that is not attributable to member contributions, the balance of your member contributions is paid to you in a single lump sum.
Designating a Beneficiary: You may designate any natural person or person as your beneficiary to receive the single sum death benefit and any return of member contributions, if you die. If you are married, you must designate your spouse as beneficiary unless your spouse consents. Spousal consent requires signature in front of Plan representative or notary.
What is a Contingent Annuitant?
A contingent annuitant is named at time of retirement and cannot be changed. Once you name your Contingent Annuitant, it CANNOT be changed (i.e. if you get divorced or remarried). Your contingent annuitant receives your pension benefit for the duration or their life in the event of your death in accordance with your selection at time of retirement. Your pension benefit is calculated using the life expectancy of both you and your contingent annuitant. If you select an individual who is younger, thus expected to live longer, your monthly pension benefit is reduced to compensate for the fact that the pension benefit will be paid out over a longer period of time.
What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and how might it affect my pension benefit?
A QDRO is a judgment, decree, or order that relates to divorce, decrees, property settlement, and child support orders, and may affect your choice of beneficiary and payment options of your pension.
Does the pension plan contain a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)?
Yes, both the LANS and UC pension plan contains a COLA.
Do I have to pay taxes on my pension income?
Pension benefits are subject to state and federal taxation. After-tax member contributions are non-taxable.

Innovations for a secure nation

Four Los Alamos projects selected as R&D 100 Award finalists

Four Los Alamos projects selected as R&D 100 Award finalists

Finalists include X-ray imaging, pipe corrosion, data handling and damage-detection software  

» All Innovations


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