Since 1935, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) has meant security and peace of mind to millions of Ohio’s retired public workers and their families. OPERS provides retirement, disability and survivor benefit programs for public employees throughout the state who are not covered by another state or local retirement system.
With unaudited defined benefit and health care investment assets of $123.8 billion as of Dec. 31, 2021, OPERS is the largest state pension fund in Ohio, and the 13th-largest public retirement system and 14th-largest retirement system in the U.S.
To be your trusted retirement partner delivering responsive, high-quality service.
To provide secure retirement benefits for our members.
- Opportunity to make a difference
- Professionalism and integrity
- Exceptional teamwork
- Respected partnerships
- Service excellence
OPERS Board of Trustees
The OPERS Board of Trustees — the governing body of the system — is responsible for the administration and management of OPERS. The board meets monthly to review and formulate policies concerning the members, contributors and benefit recipients of OPERS, and the OPERS office staff.
OPERS Leadership Team
The OPERS Board of Trustees appoints an executive director and the executive director appoints other employees necessary for the transaction of business.
The senior staff members include:
- Karen Carraher
- Tonya Brown
Director – Member Operations
- Allen Foster
Director – Benefits
- Gordon Gatien
Director – External Relations
- Paul Greff
Chief Investment Officer
- Eric Harrell
- Caroline McNamee Stinziano
Director – Internal Audit
- Chuck Quinlan
Director – Information Technology
- Jenny Starr
Director – Finance
- Ciji Wilhelm
Director – Human Resources
Who is a Member of OPERS?
All employees who are paid in whole or in part by the state of Ohio, a county, municipality, or any other political subdivision of state or local government in Ohio must become members of OPERS unless they are covered by another state retirement system in Ohio or by the Cincinnati Retirement System.
Membership begins from the first date of employment.
Membership Determination Process
Public employers and/or their workers seeking a membership determination for either independent contract/public employee status or carryover status follow this process:
- First level determination by Compliance Specialist
- 30 day timeline for either party to appeal by providing additional information after receipt of first level determination
- Second level determination by Senior Staff
- 60 day timeline for either party to appeal to the Board by submitting a written appeal to the Executive Director
- Board decision to either delegate to an independent hearing examiner, or
- Final decision by the Board
Membership in OPERS is optional for service as an elected official, however, if an elected official does not choose membership in OPERS, he or she must contribute to Social Security.
Back payments on earlier non-contributing elective service may be made after a member has contributed for at least 18 months based on current service, if earlier service was not covered under Social Security. Once an elected official becomes a member of OPERS, he or she is eligible for the same benefits as regular members.
Students working for the public school, college, or university they are attending may be exempt from contributing to OPERS by filing a request for exemption within the first month of employment.
The following individuals are ineligible for membership:
- Inmates of state correctional institutions.
- Patients in hospitals operated by the Departments of Mental Health or Mental Retardation.
- Patients in the Ohio Veterans' Home and residents of county homes.
- Elected officials of public employers who have no employees subject to OPERS coverage.
- Employees of temporary help services who perform services for public employers.
- Individuals serving on a temporary basis in case of fire, storm, snow, earthquake, flood, or other similar emergency.
- Persons employed under the federal Job Training Partnership Act.
- Members of the Motor Vehicle Salvage Dealers Board or the Motor Vehicle's Board.
- Employees of private contractors except public employees transferred with previously publicly-operated functions and performing the same duties as before.
- Individuals performing services under a contract as an independent contractor.
- Election workers who earn less than $600 per calendar year.
- Firefighters except those who were members before August 3, 1992 and elected to remain members.
- Board members of city or general health district boards of health whose compensation is established in Section 3709.02 or 3709.05.
- Full-time faculty and administrative staff employees in the unclassified civil service of state colleges/universities who choose to participate in an alternative retirement plan (ARP).
- Board members of a sanitary district established under Chapter 6115.
A Personal Statement of Benefits based on a member's account value as of the previous December 31 is mailed during the first half of each year.
Federal tax law makes it possible for employers to pay (pick-up) member contributions to OPERS. This enables employers to designate member contributions picked-up by the employer as tax deferred.
Under Ohio law, contributions are made on an employee's earnable salary. Not all compensation is considered earnable salary. The following are examples of what compensation may be included or excluded for purposes of contributions to OPERS.
Earnable salary includes amounts such as salary, wages, pay for sick or vacation leave used or converted in the year earned (except for state employees), pay for overtime worked or converted in the year earned, or longevity supplements.
Earnable salary does not include employer-paid amounts for insurance, reimbursement for job-related expenses, leave or overtime hours earned previously but converted in the current year, amounts paid as part of an agreement to retire, or incidental benefits such as cars.