The Combined Plan is a hybrid plan that includes both a defined benefit and defined contribution component, and your eventual benefit is calculated from the total of both portions.
Your employer contributions are managed by OPERS Investment professionals under the defined benefit portion of the Combined Plan.
You invest your member contributions in the defined contribution portion of the plan, choosing one (or more) of the OPERS investment options, similar to the way a 401(k) plan works in the private sector.
You have 180 days to choose a plan. To select the Combined Plan, visit the How to Select Your Plan page.
Key Aspects of the Combined Plan
The OPERS Combined Plan offers a number of specific features and benefits that are available to you both throughout your career as well as during retirement.
Security and freedom to invest
The Combined Plan offers security through the defined benefit portion and freedom of investment choice with the defined contribution portion.
The defined benefit portion of the Combined Plan offers security because your retirement income is based on a formula that includes your final average salary and years of service, and is not subject to the ups and down of the market.
OPERS Investment professionals manage the investment of your employer contributions. And your monthly payment will last throughout your retirement, which can make budgeting for retirement a whole lot easier. You can even take a reduced payment to make sure your spouse will be taken care of if you pass away.
The defined contribution portion gives you the freedom and flexibility to manage your member contributions. Your eventual benefit is based on your final account value including gains and losses.
You have a number of distribution options when you retire including taking a monthly lifetime annuity, a lump sum refund or rolling over your balance to another account.
Disability and survivor benefits
If you get hurt on the job or become unable to work, the Combined Plan offers the choice of two disability programs. Or get back on your feet and back to work through our Rehabilitative Services Program. Survivor benefits available through the Combined Plan provide income for your family should you pass away.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind About the Combined Plan
When you retire you may have access to health care, although this is not a guaranteed benefit. Combined Plan retirees age 60 or older with at least 20 years of qualifying service, and to all retirees with 30-32 years of qualifying service (depending on their group) may qualify for health care.
Managing Your Account
The Combined Plan allows you to direct the investment of your employee contributions by choosing from one or more of the OPERS investment options. You can select a Target Date Fund or build your own portfolio using the OPERS core funds. Both the Target Date Funds and the core funds are monitored by OPERS investment professionals.
OPERS also offers a mutual fund-only Self-Directed Brokerage Account through Charles Schwab's Personal Choice Retirement Account®.
- Learn about your investment Options
- Self-Directed Brokerage Account
- Choosing your investments
- Changing your investments
Retiring from the Combined Plan
Once you’ve made the decision to retire, there are a few things to know about the retirement application process.
- Questions to ask yourself when considering retirement
- What steps do I need to take to apply for retirement?
- What documents will OPERS need to process my retirement application?
- Retirement Application for the Combined Plan
Refunding Your Account
If you leave your OPERS-covered job you have two options: keep your account with OPERS (if you think you may return to public service) or refund 100 percent of your member contributions (plus any investment earnings or losses on those contributions).
Depending on the number of years you have attained in the Combined Plan, you may also receive a portion of your employer's contributions, plus any investment earnings or losses.
Voya's myOrangeMoney tool has been tailored specifically for OPERS members. The tool allows you to get an idea of what your retirement account will look like in the future and compare your estimated monthly income with what you think you may need in retirement. Certain factors such as annuity factors and contribution rates have been customized for your plan.
You can access the tool through your online account.
- Educational recorded presentations for members in the Combined Plan
- Pension and Health Care Eligibility Guide
- Member Library
- OPERS Forms
- Frequently Asked Questions
Your account value in the Member-Directed Plan or the defined contribution portion of your Combined Plan is not a guaranteed amount. It is dependent on the performance of the investment options you select.