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Purchase of Service Credit

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. What is 'service credit' under the Traditional Pension and Combined Plans?

Service credit is the number of years and months that you have either earned through contributing service or that you have purchased. Total service credit is one of the factors used to determine eligibility for and calculation of the age and service retirement benefit formula in the Traditional Pension and Combined Plans.

In addition to contributing service credit, you may purchase credit for other types of service, including military service, out-of-state or federal service, leave of absence, and service that was exempt. If you think you are eligible to purchase service credit, contact OPERS for the proper forms required to purchase additional service credit and to obtain a cost statement.

2. Is service credit earned in the Member-Directed or Combined Plans?

Member-Directed Plan
Service credit is not a factor in determining your retirement benefits in the Member-Directed Plan. Member contributions, employer contributions, and the performance of the investment options you choose will determine your retirement benefits.

Combined Plan
Service credit in the Combined Plan is used to determine eligibility for, and the calculation of, a retirement benefit under the defined benefit portion of the Combined Plan. You must meet certain requirements to receive age and service retirement benefits under the Combined Plan.

3. I currently have contributions and service credit with the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) and/or the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). How will my choice affect my account with those systems?

Non-concurrent service with SERS or STRS can be combined with service credit earned under the Traditional Pension Plan to provide for earlier retirement or a larger benefit. Non-concurrent means that you did not contribute to one of the other Systems at the same time you were contributing to OPERS.

Service credit earned with SERS or STRS cannot be combined with contributions to the Member-Directed or Combined Plan.

To receive a benefit from SERS or STRS, you must qualify independently with those systems. If you have credit with SERS or STRS, you may want to call the OPERS Help Line at 1-866-OPERS-4-U (1-866-673-7748) and speak with a Representative for more information prior to enrolling in the Member-Directed or Combined Plans.

4. Can I rollover or transfer from another retirement plan to another retirement account to purchase service credit in OPERS?

Please visit the Member FAQ on Plan-to-Plan Transfers from Other Retirement Accounts for this answer.

5. How will 2008 contribution rates affect purchasing service credit?

Contribution rate increases will affect the cost to purchase: Elected/Appointed service; Leave of absence service; and certain types of Unreported public service. To preserve the lower rate for service earned through 2007, you need to request a cost statement and make a partial payment or submit a Service Purchase Payment Option Form indicating payroll deduction to OPERS prior to Dec. 31, 2007 or within 30 days from the date a cost statement from OPERS is mailed, whichever is later.

If you have already initiated a service purchase of the types listed for service earned prior to 2007, the cost to purchase that credit will be based on the lower contribution rate in effect at the time the service was earned regardless of the method of payment. Future purchases for service earned on or after Jan.1, 2008 will be based on the new 2008 rate.
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