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Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State & Local Data

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Definitions

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A
  • Active members – Employees making payments to contributory pension plans, as well as other employees on whose behalf contributions are made by the sponsoring government (noncontributory retirement systems).

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B
  • Beneficiaries – Retirees who may receive lump-sum benefit payments on retirement or who may elect to receive benefits periodically, depending on the provisions of a pension plan.
  • Benefits – Payments to which participants may be entitled under a pension plan, including pension benefits, death and disability benefits due on termination of employment, and all other benefits directly paid from the retirement fund to recipients during the fiscal year surveyed.

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C
  • Cash and securities – Cash, deposits, government securities, bonds, stocks, etc., accumulated by a pension fund for the purpose of meeting retirement benefits when they become due.
  • Common funds – Prorated using available secondary sources into appropriate investment detail (stocks, bonds, federal securities, etc.).
  • Contributions – Amounts paid into a pension fund by the parent government or employees pursuant to terms of the fund, state law, actuarial calculation, or other basis for determination. Excludes any amounts received for transmittal to the Federal Social Security System, amounts received from the liquidation of investments, and any other receipts for social insurance programs not part of the pension funds.
  • Covered Payroll – Payments made to active employees on which contributions to a pension plan are based.

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D

  • Defined Benefit (DB) –  A retirement plan in which the amount of the pension benefit is set by a formula established through the plan. Benefits are calculated based on age, length of service, and final salary. The benefit is payable as a lifetime annuity and possibly for the lifetime of the designated beneficiary. Benefits are typically paid out in substantially equal periodic payments. The plan funds these benefits through a combination of employee contributions, employer contributions, and investment returns. There are no individual accounts.

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E

  • Earnings on investment –  Interest, dividends, rents, and other earnings on investments. Includes realized and unrealized gains on sale of investments net of any realized or unrealized losses based on reporting market value for corporate bonds and stocks.

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F

  • Federal securities – Includes U.S. Treasury notes and bonds issued by agencies operating under federal authority but privately administered.

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G

  • Government securities –  Include U.S. Treasury bonds, notes, Federal Financing Bank and other Federal Agency securities.

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I

  • Inactive members – Former employees or others on extended leave who have retained retirement credits.
  • Investments held in trust – May include funds administered by private agencies, guaranteed investment accounts, and loans made to employees.

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M

  • Membership
  1. Active members: Employees making payments to contributory pension plans, as well as other employees on whose behalf contributions are made by the sponsoring government (noncontributory retirement systems).
  2. Inactive members: Former employees or others on extended leave who have retained retirement credits.
  3. Beneficiaries: Retirees who may receive lump-sum benefit payments on retirement or who may elect to receive benefits periodically, depending on the provisions of a pension plan.
  • Mortgages – May include mortgage-backed securities where detail is unknown.

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N

  • Non-government securities –  Include stocks, bonds, federally-sponsored agency securities, investments held in trust, mutual funds, and direct loans.

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P

  • Pension Obligations – Projects the total obligation required to cover costs for providing pensions to former and present employees.

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R

  • Retirement system – A pension plan in which investments, contributions, and benefits are administered as a separate entity independent of the parent government general fund. Assets are accumulated and benefits paid under a particular set of actuarial assumptions, including employee age, compensation, and service credits. They include single employer systems, in which one government is the sole sponsor of the pension plan, as well as multiple employer systems, where two or more governments maintain membership on behalf of their employees.

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S

  • Short-term funds – Cash on hand, demand deposits, and time deposits such as certificates of deposits are classified as "cash and deposits," but may include federal securities or commercial and finance company paper not shown in detail.
  • Survey data – Data collected on total holding and investments, total revenue, employee contributions, government contributions, total expenditures, benefits paid, and total deposits for both State and Local retirement systems. Data are shown for individual retirement systems as well as at the national, state, and local level.

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W

  • Withdrawals – Amounts paid to employees or former employees or their survivors, representing return of contributions made by employees during the period of their employment, and any interest on such amounts. Also includes any transfers of investment holdings or reimbursements for benefits paid where another pension fund assumes responsibility for direct benefit payment to retirees.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Annual Survey of Public Pensions: State & Local Data | 1 (888) 529-1963 | govs.pensions@census.gov |  Last Revised: November 15, 2012