Throughout your working career and during your retirement, you may experience a number of significant life events. These events may impact your OPERS benefits.
Designating/Changing Your Beneficiary
Depending on who you designate as your beneficiary, your survivors will receive either a lump sum refund or monthly benefits. This is why it is important to designate a beneficiary(ies) and keep this information up-to-date throughout your career.
You can designate and/or update your beneficiaries at any time through your online account or by completing a Designation of Beneficiary form.
Authorize a Caregiver
You can grant OPERS permission for a caregiver to have access to your OPERS account information by completing the Authorization: Release of Account Information form. A separate HIPAA authorization form needs to be completed to release protected health information. When completing the HIPAA Authorization form, you can choose which information you want to disclose to a third party (health care enrollment and coverage information, monthly premiums, Health Reimbursement Arrangement).
- Authorization: Release of Account Information form
- HIPAA Authorization: For Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information form
Via Benefits, the administrator of the OPERS Medicare Connector, may have different rules and forms for caregivers and guardians. If you or a loved one have purchased a Medicare plan through Via Benefits, you should contact Via Benefits directly for more information.
If you have appointed someone to make financial decisions on your behalf under a Durable Power of Attorney or if a probate court has appointed a guardian of your estate, the Power of Attorney document or Letters of Guardianship should be sent to OPERS.
If you need to draft a Durable Power of Attorney, you should consult with an attorney.
For Caregivers Looking for More Information
If you're a caregiver looking for information on how to assist an OPERS benefit-recipient, visit the Information for Caregivers page.
Marriage or Re-marriage
If you get married you may want to update your beneficiary designation to include your new spouse.
If you are receiving your retirement benefit under the Single Life Plan or Multiple Life Plan of payment, you may be able to change your payment plan to provide for a new spouse.
For marriages or remarriages that occur on or after June 6, 2005, you will have one year from your date of marriage or remarriage to change your plan of payment from the Single Life Plan to a Joint Life Plan to provide for your spouse.
If you are receiving your retirement benefit under the Multiple Life Plan, you may designate your new spouse as beneficiary if you have no more than three beneficiaries designated at the time you marry or remarry.
If your marriage or re-marriage occurred prior to June 6, 2005, you may change your plan of payment at any time; the Benefit Pop Down Request form is available at opers.org, you may also call OPERS for an estimate. Benefit recalculation rules vary by Single Life, Joint Life and Multiple Life Plans.
The change to the new plan of payment is effective on the date the form is received by OPERS. Any change in the benefit amount will begin on the first day of the month following the effective date of the form.
- Additional Annuity Benefit Pop Down Request form
- Age and Service Retirement Benefit Pop Down Request form
Divorce, Dissolution or Annulment of Marriage
Should you get a divorce, dissolution or annulment of marriage, you may want to remove your former spouse as a beneficiary.
Under both the Joint Life Plan and Multiple Life Plan, you may remove your former spouse as beneficiary with the written consent of your former spouse or as permitted by a court order. If on the Joint Life Plan, you will be paid under the Single Life Plan; under the Multiple Life Plan, payment will stay within this Plan.
There will be no change in the benefit allocation for the other beneficiaries under the Multiple Life Plan. The change in your benefit will be effective the first of the month following our receipt of your properly completed Benefit Pop-up Request form and, if necessary the appropriate court order.
You may want to review your tax withholding and exemptions. You can do this through your online account and make any changes. It may also be a good idea to review your current Power of Attorney, or consider designating one.
You can find more information in the Domestic Relations leaflet.
Moving, Relocating, or Changing Jobs
If you are actively working for an OPERS-covered employer and need to relocate or change jobs, we make it easy to search our large network on more than 3,700 employers across Ohio. That means you have many opportunities to continue being an OPERS member.
If you plan to move and remain in your current OPERS-covered job, you'll want to update your contact information so OPERS can reach you and you can continue receiving important news and information about your account.
If you plan to spend a few months out of the year at another home, the best way to be sure you receive all OPERS mailings is to update your mailing address through your online account.
Your mailing address is different from your permanent address and has no impact on how taxes are taken out of your benefit check or how health care coverage is administered. These items are dictated by your permanent address.
Turning 65 & Medicare Basics
If you are new to Medicare you may have questions about navigating the process such as when and how to enroll and what to expect during enrollment. The below information provides answers to these questions plus a little more.
For in-depth information about Medicare plans, visit medicare.gov.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health care program for Americans 65 years and older, for individuals under 65 with certain disabilities and for individuals of any age with end-stage renal disease. It generally covers about 80 percent of medical costs.
Medicare is composed of several parts:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
- Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)
In addition to original Medicare, there are two types of health plans offering Medicare coverage:
- Medicare Advantage Plans (which replace original Medicare)
- Medigap Plans (which supplement original Medicare's coverage
Medicare Enrollment Periods
If you are aging into Medicare, it's important for you to know when to enroll. There are two main enrollment periods, Initial and General, and a third period for special cases.
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B begins three months before and ends three months after your 65th birthday.
General Enrollment Period
If you do not enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during the Initial Enrollment period, you have the opportunity to enroll during the general enrollment period, which runs from Jan. 1 through March 31 each year. Coverage will begin the following July.
Special Enrollment Period
There is a third period, called Special Enrollment Period, that applies if you are enrolled in Medicare and certain changes occur, including:
- You move outside your plan's service area
- You lose employer coverage (either your own or through your spouse)
- Your plan changes, or doesn't renew, its contract with Medicare
Medicare Enrollment Checklist
Enroll in Medicare
Enroll during your enrollment period (see above)
Call Via Benefits
Contact Via Benefits at 1-844-287-9945 to schedule a time to enroll in a plan through the Connector.
Set up your Via Benefits online account
Set up your Via Benefits online account and fill out your online personal profile.
Call Via Benefits (again!)
Contact Via Benefits again during your scheduled enrollment time. Please allow at least an hour for the enrollment process.
Returning to Work After Retirement
If you decide to go back to work during your retirement, re-employment in a job covered by OPERS or another Ohio retirement system (including service in an elected or certain volunteer positions) may affect your retirement benefits.
If you have questions about how a new job may affect your benefits, contact OPERS prior to re-employment. You can also find more information on the re-employment page.
Illness or Injury
If you become seriously or terminally ill, we can help you and your loved ones make sure your OPERS account is in order and your wishes are carried out. To learn more, visit the Information for Caregivers pages.
If you are an active member in the Traditional Pension or Combined plan and you become hurt or disabled while on the job you may be eligible for Disability Benefits. To learn more, visit the Disability Benefits page.
Death of an OPERS Member
OPERS must always be notified in the event of a member or benefit recipient's death or the death of a beneficiary(ies) so we can properly process the account, including any payment due to the beneficiary(ies). This can be done by calling OPERS, by mail or in-person.
Once notified, OPERS will let the account beneficiary know what forms should be completed and if additional information is required.
Death of an Active Member
If you pass away while actively working in an OPERS-covered job your loved ones may qualify for survivor benefits.
Under the Traditional Pension and Combined plans, your loved ones may qualify to receive survivor benefits should you pass away before you retire or while you're receiving a disability benefit. You must have at least 18 months of full-time service at time of your death (with at least 3 of those months occurring within 2.5 years prior to your death) for your survivors to qualify for benefits.
If your beneficiaries meet the eligibility requirements at the time of your death, they may be entitled to one of the following benefit payments:
- A monthly survivor benefit based on a percentage of your final average salary.
- A monthly joint-survivor benefit calculated as Joint Life Plan with a Partial Lump Sum Option Payment
- A lump-sum payment of your refundable account (if applicable).
If you're in the Member-Directed Plan, the vested portion of your individual account and retiree medical account will be available to your qualified survivors through a refund of your account.
- Survivor Benefits under the Traditional Pension Plan
- Survivor Benefits under the Combined Plan
- Survivor Benefits under the Member-Directed Plan
Death of a Retired Member
If you pass away while receiving an OPERS retirement benefit or disability benefit, here are a few things to know in regard to what happens to your account.
Your benefits cease
After OPERS is notified of your death, your account will be shut down and benefit payments and health care (for you and your dependents) will cease.
We notify your beneficiaries
We will then notify your beneficiaries (who you named through specific designation or automatic succession) in writing and send them all the necessary forms to complete. All required paperwork can be sent to OPERS by mail or fax.
We issue survivor benefits (if applicable)
Once all the paperwork is received, it will take about 25 business days to process and issue survivor payments. Benefits and health care will be paid out to your beneficiaries according to the payment plan you chose at retirement.
- If you selected Single Life Plan, you beneficiaries will not receive benefits or health care coverage.
- If you chose either the Joint Life or Multiple Life plans, you beneficiaries will receive benefits and health care.
Survivors of retired members or disability benefit recipients may qualify for a death benefit.
This is a one-time, lump-sum payment. The amount paid is based on the retiree's years of service and is paid to beneficiaries named through specific designation or, if no beneficiaries are designated, automatic succession.