The IAFF MERP has two types of accounts: the Pooled Account and Individual Accounts.
The Pooled Account
The Pooled Account is the backbone of the IAFF MERP. Like a pension fund, the Pooled Account is designed to provide a lifetime stream of monthly benefits to the Plan’s Eligible Retirees. This account is funded through regular monthly contributions coming into the plan on behalf of participating members. These largely consist of the employer and/or employee contributions that are made on a bi-weekly or monthly basis per your collective bargaining agreement (or similar agreement).
The Pooled Account is managed by the Trust’s Investment Consultant in accordance with the policies set forth by the Trustees. A full actuarial study that includes account investment returns and expenses as well as the Trust’s long term assumed rate of return, is performed approximately every three (3) years in order to ensure the long-term viability of the benefit level and the Plan.
Other Advantages of the Pooled Account
IAFF MERP participants take advantage of institutional investment opportunities. The Pooled Account is professionally invested without the need for individual employees to actively manage investment allocations as is common in individual account style plans.
The Pooled investment fund continues to receive contributions from younger active employees during your retirement. Pooling contributions helps ensure that the fund remains fully invested. This, in conjunction with the lifetime benefit plan design for Eligible Retirees, will likely result in higher aggregate benefits for IAFF MERP participants when compared to individual account style plans.
View the latest Pooled Account Performance Report
Individual Accounts are an optional but valuable part of IAFF MERP’s design. These accounts are funded through the tax-exempt transfer of accrued leave dollars and other eligible lump sum transfers. Transfers may occur annually during active service and/or at separation and must be stipulated in your collective bargaining agreement (or similar) making it mandatory for all employees within a defined eligible class.
Participants receiving leave or other lump sum contributions to their Individual Account can choose one of the following two options for these funds:
- Direct the funds to one of six investment portfolios (listed below).
- Elect to transfer the funds to the Pooled Account thereby “annuitizing” these assets into lifetime income. Participants exercising this option will be converting funds to additional Active Service Units at an age-based actuarially adjusted rate. Refer to Appendix C of the Plan Document for more information.
Once IAFF MERP benefits have commenced, the Eligible Retiree can draw from the Individual Account to augment their lifetime monthly Pooled benefit to help pay for qualified medical expenses. Surviving spouses and eligible dependents may continue to access the funds in the Individual Account following the death of the firefighter participant.
Locals that have bargained for contributions on behalf of retirees who initiated IAFF MERP contributions as an active employee will receive these contributions to the retiree’s Individual Account.
Not everyone will have an Individual Account. Individual Accounts are only established for participants whose bargaining agreements mandate an eligible lump sum transfer to the Plan.
Individual Account Portfolios
Participants are given a choice of six (6) self-directed investment options to hold their Individual Account assets. Like all other IAFF MERP contributions and distributions, investment returns on these accounts are tax-exempt.
The annual investment selection period is the only time participants can change their investment elections, except for within 30 days of receipt of an eligible lump sum transfer.
Below you’ll find a list of the current Individual Account investment options. Click on the fund name to learn about the fund’s investment approach and recent performance.
- First American Money Market Fund (FPIXX)
- Dodge & Cox Income (Bond) Fund (DODIX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement Income Fund (VTINX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2030 Fund (VTHRX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund (VFORX)
- Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (VFIFX)