Below you will find answers to a set of some of the most frequently asked questions about the OPERS' pension plans. Click on the arrows beside the questions to either reveal or hide the answers.
1. If I am employed part-time or for a short period of time do I have to be a member and contribute to OPERS?
All public employees, unless otherwise excluded or exempted, must become members regardless of the hours worked. In the Traditional Pension and Combined Plans, your earnings will determine your service credit; if you earn at least $600 per month for each of 12 calendar months you receive a full year of service credit. You earn contributing months in the Member-Directed Plan.
2. I did not contribute to OPERS for a period when I was working for a public employer. Why not?
There can be a number of reasons.
- Your service was excluded from coverage and you were not entitled to coverage. For example, you were an independent contractor.
- Your service was exempted and you filed an exemption from membership. You may purchase this time.
- Your service was covered but your employer did not submit any contributions. This is referred to as non-contributing service and becomes a liability to the public employer.
3. How can I find out if I should be, or should have been in OPERS?
You or your employer should contact OPERS with information on your position. The staff will review the information and make a determination.
4. Will membership in OPERS affect contributions in an individual retirement account (IRA)?
It may. Membership in a "pension plan" may affect the amount of tax-deferred contributions a member may make to an IRA. You should consult the Internal Revenue Service, or a tax advisor for more information.
5. Can I take a loan out of my account, or use my account as collateral when applying for a loan?
Your funds are here to provide you with benefits if you otherwise are qualified. You cannot make any withdrawals while you are still employed and no creditors can reach your funds. See Refunds
for when you may receive your account.
6. How do I know what contributions I have with OPERS or how much service credit? Can you give this information over the telephone?
OPERS mails a Personal Statement of Benefits to both active and inactive members for the Traditional Pension Plan and the defined benefit portion of the Combined Plan during the first half of each year. This statement provides accumulated deposits, service credit and estimates of benefits for which these members may be eligible.
A member may also contact the OPERS Member Services Center, by calling 1-800-222-PERS (7377) or by writing to OPERS at 277 East Town St., Columbus, Ohio, 43215-4642, at any time to request a statement of their contributions and service credit.
Quarterly statement for the Member-Directed Plan and the defined contribution portion of the Combined Plan are mailed to these members.
7. My statement went to my old address even though I had given my new address to my employer. Why?
Changing your address with your employer is important but it does not guarantee OPERS will receive the change. You should call or write OPERS with any address changes. You can also update your permanent or mailing address via your Online Account. Log in to your Online Account and click "Profile" to update your address or add a new address.
8. Why didn't I receive an annual statement this year?
If you did not contribute to your OPERS account during the past year, an annual statement is not generated for your account. You may still contact OPERS to request a statement of contributions and service credit. (See Question 6 above)
However, an annual statement is generated and set to inactive members who are vested for retirement benefits.
If you did contribute to OPERS and did not receive a statement, you may wish to confirm that OPERS has your current address (See Question 7 above). This is the primary reason why most members who are supposed to receive an annual statement do not.
9. How much will it cost for me to purchase military (or other types of) service credit?
The cost depends on the type of service credit. You need to contact OPERS and request information. We can provide costs for direct or payroll deduction payments.
10. I have heard my employer can buy additional service credit for me so I can retire early. How can I find out about this?
A public employer may establish an Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP). Under this plan, service credit purchased by the employer for their eligible employees cannot exceed the lesser of the following: the maximum number of years stated in the plan not to exceed five years, or one-fifth of an employee's established service credit.
The cost to the employer is the additional benefit liability based upon factors supplied by the OPERS actuary, not just employee and employer contributions. A member must be eligible to retire with the purchase of the credit by the termination date of the plan. The employer must follow certain procedures to establish an ERI plan, and once a plan is in place, provide information to their eligible employees.
Because these are employer-initiated programs, any questions should go to your employer. Employers may request further information from OPERS on creating a plan.
11. Can I roll over money into my OPERS account?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Please visit the Member FAQ on Rollovers
for a more in-depth answer.