Alternative Retirement Plan for College/University Employees
Eligibility for participation in an ARP includes:
- All eligible, full-time employees of public universities and colleges with less than five years of service credit as of Aug. 1, 2005, who have not previously had the opportunity to choose an ARP;
- Full-time employees hired after Aug. 1, 2005;
- Employees who change from part-time to full-time status after Aug. 1, 2005, who will be treated as new hires; and
- Law enforcement personnel and re-employed retirees who are otherwise eligible.
What Your Employees Will Receive
New employees who are eligible to choose one of the three OPERS retirement plans will receive the OPERS Welcome Letter, which contains detailed information about OPERS and the benefits of membership in our system.
ARP Enrollment Information
Regarding the enrollment forms please be aware that as a university employer you may add your name, logo, listing of ARP vendors and employer code to the forms, but you may not alter the text in any way.
The Retirement Plan Election Form (ARP-3) is to be used for all new hires and newly eligible after August 1, 2005.
The deadline for colleges and universities to receive an election form from any employee eligible to elect an ARP is 120 days from their ARP eligibility date.
Automatic Transfer of OPERS Contributions
For new hires and those newly eligible for ARP (due to status change from part time to full time) on or after Aug. 1, 2005, all retirement contributions with that university or college are retroactive to the employee's ARP effective date and will automatically transfer to the selected ARP vendor.
Voluntary Transfer of Existing OPERS Contribution Balance
Employees, who have contributions on deposit prior to their ARP effective date, may transfer these contributions to their ARP account provided they are not currently contributing to OPERS in another position for which an ARP was not elected. These employees are not required to transfer their previous OPERS account and may leave it on deposit with the retirement system during and after participation in the ARP.
If your employee wishes to transfer their previous OPERS balance, they must complete the Member's application for Transfer of Accumulated Contributions to an Alternative Retirement Plan form (A-4 ARP) . Based on which OPERS retirement plan the employee has elected, this is what will be transferred:
- For Member-Directed Plan participants, the amount of transfer equals the employee contributions, including adjustments for gains or losses, plus the vested percentage of the employer contributions. The individual's vested amount in the Retiree Medical Account remains on deposit in the individual's RMA and cannot be transferred to the ARP.
The individual may use the balance of the RMA only for qualified medical expenses. For more information on RMA distributions, members may refer to the Health Care Savings Account for Member-Directed Plan Participants publication.
- For Traditional Pension Plan participants, the amount of the transfer equals the employee contributions and allowable interest. Any match amount earned will be forfeited.
- For the Combined Plan participants, the amount of the transfer equals the employee contributions, including adjustments for gains or losses, and any monies used to purchase service credit. Any match amount earned will be forfeited.
A re-employed retiree is eligible to elect an ARP during the 120-day election period.
If a retiring employee was not previously eligible to make an ARP election, the re-employed retiree is eligible to make a new ARP election upon re-employment as a retiree in an eligible position.
If the re-employed retiree was previously eligible to make an ARP election, the retiree would not be eligible for a new election and the retiree's prior election would remain in effect during re-employment, unless the retiree is employed with a different employer or more than one year has elapsed since employment with your college/university. Any re-employed retiree who works for a different college or university immediately after retirement is eligible for an ARP election.
Transfer of OPERS Contribution Balance
If a re-employed retiree under age 65 elects to transfer a money purchase account to an ARP, the OPERS employee contributions and interest will transfer to the selected ARP vendor. Re-employed retirees age 65 and older will have employee contributions and interest, plus an equal matching amount, sent to their selected ARP vendor. The time periods of contributions that automatically transfer to the ARP follow the same guidelines as employees who are not re-employed retirees. (Refer to automatic transfer of OPERS contributions, above.)
A re-employed retiree is not required to transfer their existing OPERS contribution balance. They may leave the contributions on deposit with the retirement system during and after participation in the ARP.
Transfer of Voluntary Contribution Balance
Voluntary contributions and rollovers to the Member-Directed Plan, Combined Plan or the Additional Annuity (Traditional Pension Plan) will be sent to the ARP vendor along with the other transfer amounts in that plan.
Notification of New Hires
Employers are required to notify OPERS within 10 days of an employee's eligibility to elect an ARP using the Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) Eligibility Notice (form ARP-2). This applies to both newly hired, full-time employees and those employees whose status has changed from part time to full time. A digital version of form ARP-2 is available by logging into your ECS account.
Social Security Statement
Social Security requires the Statement Concerning Your Employment in a Job Not Covered by Social Security (form SSA-1945) to be signed by all public employees. The employer must submit a copy of the signed form to the pension-paying agency.
Special note on employer contributions
The mitigating rate is a portion of the employer contributions paid by university employers on behalf of their employees who choose not to join OPERS, and is intended to offset the financial impact of the loss of their contributions.
OPERS currently withholds 0.77 percent and this rate will increase to 2.44 percent July 1, 2017 for all ARP participants.
- OPERS recognizes the best choice of a retirement plan varies by individual and as such, there are important factors to consider when making a plan selection. Employees should consider the most current information available to make the best choice for their individual situation.
- Once an ARP is selected, it is irrevocable while an employee remains employed with the same college or university. If they change employers or there is a one-year break in service and they go back to the same college or university, they have an opportunity to select OPERS membership.
- If an employee chooses to remain with OPERS, they must check the appropriate box in Step 2 of the Retirement Plan Election Form (ENR-1), sign and submit it to their employer for completion before submission to OPERS.
Who to Contact for More Information
Contact Employer Outreach with questions or comments at 1-888-400-0965 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, we urge you to encourage your employees to contact the OPERS Member Services Center at 1-800-222-7377 with any questions they might have. In-house and phone counseling appointments are also available to assist your employees with this very important decision.