OPERS 101

Established in 1935, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System provides pension benefits and health care coverage to retired public employees in Ohio. We're the largest of five public, state-affiliated pension systems in Ohio, and the 12th-largest such entity in the United States.

OPERS is not, however, part of state government. We are governed by the OPERS Board of Trustees, 11 non-paid volunteers who are responsible for our administration and management. The Ohio Retirement Study Council provides legislative oversight of all state public pension systems.

OPERS' membership includes employees from about 3,700 employers. Our members work for Ohio's state government as well as its cities, counties, townships, universities, colleges, libraries, transit authorities, housing authorities and public hospitals.

You can find detailed information about our system in our financial reports.

OPERS and Ohio law

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 145 provides the framework under which OPERS is administered.

Investments

OPERS' Investments Division is a team of professionals who manage a broadly diversified portfolio with the goal of sustained performance over time. Our main goal is sustained performance, which will help to provide secure retirement benefits and health care coverage to our members.

We maintain separate investment plans for our three funds: defined benefit, health care and defined contribution. These are the asset sizes of each fund at the end of 2016:

For more information about OPERS investments read the latest annual investment plan on our website.

Contributions

OPERS members contribute to a pension in lieu of Social Security. Their employers also contribute to their retirement account, in varying amounts depending on the job the employees perform.

State and local employees contribute 10 percent of their salaries, and their employers contribute 14 percent of the salaries. Law enforcement employees contribute 13 percent and public safety employees contribute 12 percent of their salaries, and the employers of both groups contribute 18.1 percent of the salaries.

The pension benefit

OPERS offers its members three pension choices: a defined benefit plan, a defined contribution plan and a hybrid of the two. About 95 percent of our members belong to the defined benefit plan. Upon retiring, OPERS calculates the monthly benefit according to a salary based on earned service credit and final average salary.

While exact calculations vary depending on a member's age and length of service, the basic formula used to determine OPERS' defined benefit pensions is:

(Final average salary) x (years of service) x (2.2 percent)

Additional information regarding this benefit is in our Retiring from Public Employment leaflet.

For further descriptions of each retirement plan, see the Pensions 101 page.

Additional benefits

In addition to the pension benefit, OPERS provides its members a variety of benefits designed to provide retirement security. They include disability and survivor benefits, the additional annuity, a death benefit, a choice of payment plans and a partial lump sum payment option.

For details about these benefits, refer to the Benefit Programs section of our website, or read the Benefit Recipient Handbook.

Health Care

OPERS provides health care coverage for eligible benefit recipients, both for those under 65 and those over 65 who are on Medicare. Refer to the Pension and Health Care Eligibility Guide to see how OPERS members can become eligible for both a pension and health care coverage.

Pre-Medicare

Health care coverage for those under 65 is for members in either our Traditional Pension Plan or Combined Pension Plan. The eligibility requirements are age 60 and 20 years of qualifying service credit, or any age with service credit of 30-32 years, depending on retirement group.

Pre-Medicare health care coverage is provided by Medical Mutual of Ohio.

Medicare-eligible

Retirees who are Medicare eligible and enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B can enroll in secondary coverage through the OPERS Medicare Connector. They select an individual plan with an insurance carrier through our third-party Connector administrator, Via Benefits.

The Connector is a reimbursement model. Participants pay for the premiums and other eligible expenses and are reimbursed through an account OPERS funds called a Health Reimbursement Arrangement. Participants can use the funds to pay for spouse's premiums if they choose.

Although OPERS understands the importance of offering meaningful health care coverage, our board has the discretion to review, rescind, modify or change our health care coverage at any time.