OPERS History & Background
With assets of $91.2 billion as of 12/31/14, OPERS is the largest state pension fund in Ohio, and the 11th largest public retirement system and 15th largest retirement system in the U.S.
OPERS is located in the heart of downtown Columbus -- Ohio's capital city -- just blocks from The Ohio Statehouse and Capital Square.
OPERS, which recognized its 80th year in 2015, provides retirement, disability and survivor benefit programs for public employees throughout the state who are not covered by another state or local retirement system.
OPERS serves more than 1 million members:
- 346,509 are active members, currently working in public employment and contributing to their retirement
- 498,610 are inactive members who maintain retirement accounts from past public employment
- 203,112 are retirees and beneficiaries receiving monthly pension and/or health benefits
More than 3,690 public employers in Ohio are part of the OPERS system.
How OPERS Works
OPERS is governed by an unpaid governing board of 11 members responsible for the administration and management of the system. Board members are elected by the employee groups they represent or are appointed by elected officials.
The Ohio General Assembly oversees the retirement systems through the Ohio Retirement Study Council
OPERS receives money from three main sources:
- Employee contributions
- Employer contributions
- Return on investments
Historically two-thirds of OPERS’ revenue, from which benefits are paid, is derived from investment returns. The remaining one-third of the revenue comes from employee and employer contributions.
Nearly 90 percent of OPERS retirees live in Ohio, spending the vast majority of retirement dollars on goods and services in the state. In addition, for every $1 of taxpayer contribution to OPERS, investments and employee contributions plus other sources of revenue return $3.74 into the Ohio economy.
- OPERS was established in 1935 to make available a secure means to provide retirement for Ohio public employees. The system was originally named the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and added “Ohio” in 2003 to become OPERS. OPERS is older than Social Security.
- In 1938, OPERS expanded to include county, municipalities, health department and park and conservancy district employees.
- In 1941, membership was made optional for elected officials.
- In 1951, survivor benefits were added.
- Although not mandated, OPERS began offering health care benefits in the 1960s and paying health care premiums in 1974.
- In 1975, a Law Enforcement Division was added to OPERS
- In 2002, OPERS announced the availability the next year of Member-Directed and Combined Plans in addition to its Traditional Plan. The new plans allow members more direct involvement in their investments.
- In 2004, the OPERS Board approved the Health Care Preservation Plan to ensure health care benefits for future retirees.
- In 2010, the Pew Center on the States Study rated Ohio as a “solid performer”, their highest ranking.
- In 2012, upon the recommendation of the OPERS Board, the Ohio Legislature unanimously passed pension legislation that will help OPERS maintain the fund’s financial strength.
- Also in 2012, after years of study and discussion, OPERS implemented changes that strengthened the health care fund and allowed the continuation of meaningful coverage for our retirees. With these changes, the health care fund is preserved for the foreseeable future.
OPERS’ assets are comprised of two funds (12/31/14 data):
- Pension: $78.2 billion
- Health care: $13 billion
- Total: $91.2 billion
- Pension: 84 percent funded to meet future liabilities. Meets the 30-year timeframe required for paying off pension liabilities as specified in Ohio law.