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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. Can I withdraw my retirement funds or borrow against my account?

While you are employed with an Ohio PERS-covered employer, you cannot make any withdrawals or borrow against your account for any reason.

2. How will refunding my account affect my future retirement eligibility?

By taking a refund of your account, you forfeit all service credit and future retirement benefits with Ohio PERS.

3. Can I leave my money on deposit at Ohio PERS? Are there benefits or penalties for doing so?

Traditional Pension Plan

  1. With five years of service credit in the Traditional Pension Plan, you have earned a right to a retirement benefit payable, upon application, at age 60.
  2. With 18 months of Ohio contributing service credit in the Traditional Pension Plan, and 3 months of that which occurred in the last 30 months, you have earned survivor benefit protection for qualified survivors.
  3. With five years of service credit in the Traditional Pension Plan, if you become permanently disabled within two years of terminating employment or changing OPERS retirement plans, you may file for disability benefits.
  4. You will continue to earn interest and applicable additional amount on funds left on deposit.
  5. There are no penalties or fees for leaving your funds on deposit in the Ohio PERS Traditional Pension Plan.


Combined Plan

  1. With five years of service credit in the Combined Plan, you have earned a right to a retirement benefit payable, upon application, at age 60.
  2. With 18 months of Ohio contributing service credit in the Combined Plan, and 3 months of that which occurred in the last 30 months, you have earned survivor benefit protection for qualified survivors.
  3. With five years of service credit in the Combined Plan, if you become permanently disabled within two years of terminating employment or changing OPERS retirement plans, you may file for disability benefits.
  4. If you have purchased service credit in the Combined Plan, you will continue to earn interest on amounts paid to purchase service credit.
  5. You can continue to direct your individual account in the Ohio PERS Investment Options you select, and will continue to earn investment earnings or losses on your individual account.
  6. If your individual account balance is under $5,000 and you are no longer contributing to the plan through an Ohio-PERS covered employer, you are charged a monthly administrative fee of $2 to $6.


Member-Directed Plan

  1. You are eligible to retire and annuitize your account balance at age 55.
  2. You can continue to direct your individual account in the Ohio PERS Investment Options you select, and will continue to earn investment earnings or losses on your individual account.
  3. If your individual account balance is under $5,000 and you are no longer contributing to the plan through an Ohio-PERS covered employer, you are charged a monthly administrative fee of $2 to $6.
  4. You will be eligible to submit claims against your Retiree Medical Account (RMA) once you take a distribution from the Member-Directed Plan account. Your RMA will continue to earn interest whether you refund your Member-Directed Plan account or not. Interest will continue to accrue until the medical claims you submit deplete the account balance.


Money Purchase Plan (re-employed retirees)

  1. If you elect to receive a distribution from your Money Purchase Plan benefit at age 65 or after, you will be entitled to receive your contributions and allowable interest plus an additional amount. You can choose to receive the benefit in either a lump sum payment or as a monthly benefit.
  2. You will continue to earn allowable interest on funds left on deposit regardless of your age.
  3. There are no penalties or fees for leaving your funds on deposit in the Ohio PERS Money Purchase Plan.

4. How do I file for a refund?

In order to receive a refund of your contributions, you must apply for a refund after you have terminated public employment.

You can apply for a refund of your account by logging in to your Online Account. If you are registered, enter your user ID and Password, and then click the LOG IN button. If you do not remember your user ID and/or Password, use the"Forgot User ID or Password?" link or contact us by phone. Once you have logged in to your account, select the “Apply for Refund” link from the Apply menu and follow the steps.

To learn more about the information and tools available through theyour Online Account or to learn how to register, please click on the following link: https://www.opers.org/about/online/myaccount.shtml.

5. How quickly can I get my refund?

State law requires that three months must elapse from your last day of public service before a refund can be made. This date is the date that is reported or certified by your employer. However, you can apply for a refund any time after your last day of employment. If you return to public employment before the refund is issued, you will not receive a refund of your account.

Once your refund application is processed and at least three months have elapsed from your last day of employment, your refund check will be mailed through the US postal service. Refunds cannot be direct deposited.

6. How much will my refund be and what does it include?

Traditional Pension Plan

As a member participating in the Traditional Pension Plan, you may receive your accumulated contributions, interest on those contributions and, if you have five or more years of qualified service credit in the Plan, an additional amount that is determined based on your years of service credit.

Your refund may be taxable and federal taxes may be withheld. See “Is my refund subject to taxes” below for more information.

You can view your current account value (contributions, interest, and applicable additional amount) by logging into your Online Account.

Combined Plan

As a member participating in the Combined Plan, you may receive your employee contributions and any investment earnings (or losses) on those contributions. If you have five or more years of qualified service credit in the Combined Plan, you may receive an additional amount that is determined based on your years of eligible service credit.

Your refund may be taxable and federal taxes may be withheld. See “Is my refund subject to taxes” below for more information.

You can view your current account balance (defined contribution portion and applicable additional amount) by logging into your Online Account.

Member-Directed Plan

As a member participating in the Member-Directed Plan, you may receive your employee contributions and any investment earnings (or losses) on those contributions.

Depending on your number of years of participation in the Plan, you may also receive a portion of your employer's contributions, plus any investment earnings (or losses), based on the following vesting schedule:

Attained Years of Participation Percentage Vested
Less than 1 year 0%
1 year 20%
2 years 40%
3 years 60%
4 years 80%
5 years 100%


Your refund may be taxable and federal taxes may be withheld. See “Is my refund subject to taxes” below for more information.

You can view your current account balance by logging into your Online Account.

Money Purchase Plan (re-employed retirees)

Upon termination of re-employment, you will be eligible to apply for either a refund of contributions prior to age 65 or a lump sum or annuity benefit at age 65 or after. If you elect to receive your Money Purchase Plan account prior to age 65, you will be entitled to receive contributions and allowable interest paid in a lump sum. If you are married, spousal consent is required for your refund to be issued.

If you elect to receive a Money Purchase Plan benefit at age 65 or after, you will be entitled to receive your contributions and allowable interest plus an additional amount. You can choose to receive the benefit in either a lump sum distribution or as a monthly benefit.

If you take a lump sum distribution from your account prior to age 65, your refund may be taxable and federal taxes may be withheld. See “Is my refund subject to taxes” below for more information.

If you take a lump sum distribution or a monthly benefit from your Money Purchase account at age 65 or after, your lump sum distribution or monthly benefits may be taxable. For more information, please review the Special Tax Notice Regarding Ohio PERS Payments.

You can view your current account value (contributions, interest, and applicable additional amount) by logging into your Online Account.

7. Is my refund subject to taxes?

Unless you elect to rollover your account to another qualified retirement plan, your account may be subject to federal and/or state taxes. If you elect to roll over your refund into another qualified retirement plan you will defer paying income taxes on the rollover amount until future distribution from the other qualified retirement plan is made. If you elect to roll over your refund to a Roth IRA, OPERS will not withhold taxes at the time of the refund, but will issue a Form 1099-R to be filed with your income tax return, which will indicate the full rollover amount as taxable income.

Ohio PERS is required to withhold federal taxes from the taxable portion of your account value if you do not roll the funds over to another qualified retirement plan. For more information, please review the Special Tax Notice Regarding Ohio PERS Payments, which addresses your refund payment and direct rollover rights.

If you have questions regarding your individual tax liability, please contact a professional tax advisor, the IRS, or your state’s department of taxation.

8. Will my account value/balance fluctuate while OPERS is processing my refund application?

Traditional Pension Plan and Money Purchase Plan

Your account value may increase after we receive the final contributions from your employer.

Combined and Member-Directed Plan

Yes, your balance will fluctuate if additional contributions come in from your employer and with the performance of your investment options until the day we process your refund check. If you are concerned about preserving your principle balance, you can transfer your defined contribution balance into the Ohio PERS Stable Value Fund to avoid excessive fluctuation in your account balance.

9. I’m refunding from the Member-Directed Plan, when can I access my Retiree Medical Account (RMA) balance?

You can begin using the money in the RMA to pay for qualified medical expenses after you separate from public employment and receive a refund of your account. Please keep in mind that you can only be reimbursed for qualifying medical expenses that occur after your refund check is issued.

10. If I am refunding from the Traditional Pension Plan and have funds in the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) and/or State Teachers Retirement System STRS), do I need to do anything?

If you have funds in the Traditional Pension Plan with Ohio PERS and are also a member of the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) or a participant in the Defined Benefit Plan with the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), you are required by law to apply for a refund from the other retirement system.

11. I’ve already applied for a refund, how do I update my address and/or name?

If your address or name has changed and you would like to update your records with Ohio PERS, please download the Address/Bank/Name Change Request form. (pdf, opens in a new window) If you are updating your name, please submit the form along with a copy of one of the following documents indicating your new name: a marriage certificate, a divorce or dissolutions decree that restored your prior name, and entry of change of name issued by a probate court in Ohio or another state, or a copy of your Social Security card. Please do not send originals. Original documents will not be returned.

12. I’ve already applied for a refund, how can I check on the status?

If you applied through your Online Account, you can check on the status of your refund application by logging into your Online Account. Click on “Refund Status” link on the left to view the status of your refund application.

13. I changed my mind about refunding; can I cancel or withdraw my application?

If you applied through your Online Account, you can withdraw your refund application, by logging into your Online Account. Click on “Refund Status” and click on the “Withdraw Refund Application” link for the plan for which you applied for a refund.

If you applied by submitting a paper application, you can call OPERS at 1-800-222-7377 or submit your request to withdraw your application in writing. If your request is submitted in writing, your request must include your full name (printed), at least the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN), and your long-hand signature.

14. Where can I cash my refund check?

Ohio PERS refund checks are State Treasurer’s Warrants. Therefore, refund checks can be cashed at any financial institution. However, individual financial institutions may have their own policies about what checks they will cash and for whom they will cash them. Certain financial institutions may only cash checks for account holders, charge a fee to cash, or place holds on deposited checks over a certain dollar amount. You may contact your financial institution about its check cashing and deposit policies.

15. When will I receive what I need to file with my taxes (1099-R)?

1099-R forms are mailed out by January 31 of the year following your refund, as required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
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