How to Select your Plan Selecting your OPERS retirement plan

New members, you have 180 days from your start date to select one of OPERS' three retirement plans:

Everyone's career path and retirement goals are different.

Each plan has unique features and benefits, so you can pick the one that will best meet your needs.


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Things to Consider When Selecting a Plan

Know which plan is best for you. Here are a few questions to answer:

What stage are you at in your career?

When choosing your plan, you may want to consider how long you plan to spend in public employment.

Each plan has different service credit (or contributing months) requirements in order for you to earn benefits. For example, you need 20 years of service credit in the Traditional Pension or Combined plans to get access to OPERS health care coverage.

The plans also have different age and service credit requirements that determine both how much of a retirement benefit you will receive, and the age at which you can retire. For example, the only requirement to be eligible to retire in the Member-Directed plan is to be 55 years of age or older.

Have you ever contributed to another Ohio retirement system? (Social Security does not apply)

Ohio's State Teachers Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System

If you have service with Ohio's State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) or School Employees Retirement System (SERS), the Traditional Pension Plan is the only plan that allows you to combine non-concurrent service credit in order to receive a larger retirement benefit or to retire earlier. Non-concurrent service refers to time that you contributed to only one system.

Service credit earned with SERS or STRS cannot be combined with contributing months in the Member-Directed Plan or service credit in the Combined Plan.

Ohio Police & Fire

If you have service with the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund (OP&F), Highway Patrol Retirement System (HPRS) or the Cincinnati Retirement System (CRS) that you would like to transfer to OPERS, the service may be transferred only to the Traditional Pension or Combined Plan within 90 days of your retirement effective date (see Purchased service credit under the Traditional Pension and/or Combined Plans only in the Benefits of Membership Handbook).

However, the service impacts benefit calculations differently in the Traditional Pension Plan and the Combined Plan. If you are eligible to receive a retirement or disability benefit from another Ohio retirement system, you have an important consideration to make when selecting your OPERS retirement plan.

If you are already receiving a benefit from another Ohio retirement system

If you are working in an OPERS-covered position and receiving a retirement or disability benefit from another Ohio retirement system, state law requires you to contribute to the OPERS Money Purchase Plan.

Therefore, if you select the Member-Directed or Combined Plan and later begin receiving a benefit from another Ohio retirement system and contributing to the OPERS Money Purchase Plan, you will have two separate plans with OPERS and your service credit cannot be aggregated between the plans to determine your benefits.

Do you work seasonally or intermittently?

It's important to remember that the Member-Directed and Combined Plans have a monthly administrative fee of $5 charged to all accounts, regardless of balance.

This may affect your account balance if you choose the Member-Directed or Combined Plan and you work only part of a year and are not contributing consistently to OPERS.

Do you plan to work in an OPERS-covered law enforcement or public safety position?

Members who work in an OPERS-covered law enforcement or public safety position must contribute to the Traditional Pension Plan.

If you are currently in a non-law position, but later begin working in an OPERS-covered law enforcement or public safety position, state law requires you to start contributing to the Traditional Pension Plan. The same is true for a member who is currently in the police academy – as soon as you graduate and begin working in an OPERS-covered law enforcement position, you must begin contributing to the Traditional Pension Plan.

Therefore, if you select the Member-Directed or Combined Plan and then later begin working in a law enforcement or public safety position and begin contributing to the Traditional Pension Plan, you will have two separate plans and your service cannot be aggregated between the plans to determine your benefits.


Comparing the OPERS Plans

Traditional Pension Plan

  • Lowest Risk
  • Guaranteed Benefit

The Traditional Pension Plan is a defined benefit plan.

OPERS manages the investment of both your member and employer contributions.

Your retirement income is based on a formula that includes your years of service credit and your final average salary.

Combined Plan

  • Moderate Risk
  • Hybrid Plan

The Combined Plan has both defined benefit and defined contribution components.

You direct the investment of your member contributions, while OPERS invests your employer contributions.

Your retirement income is made up of your defined benefit, based on a reduced formula, and your defined contribution benefit, based on your individual account value.

Member-Directed Plan

  • High Risk
  • Investment Options

The Member-Directed Plan is a defined contribution account.

You decide how your member and employer contributions are invested.

Your retirement income is based on your individual account value.

Other Ways to Compare the Plans

Plan Comparison Calculator

The easiest ways to compare all three plans is to use the Plan Comparison Calculator. Find it in your online account.

The calculator allows you to:

Webinar: How to Select Your OPERS Retirement Plan

The webinar will:

Recorded presentation

Don't have time for the webinar? The same information is available as a recorded presentation which you can view at any time.


Choose your plan

Make your plan selection carefully. You can only change plans once during your career. Visit the FAQ for more information on changing plans.

Once you’ve compared all three plans and are ready to make your selection, you can do so right from your online account. Log in to your account and select "Make My Retirement Plan Selection Now."

Log in to select your plan

Alternative methods

You can call 1-866-OPERS4U (673-7748) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to make your selection over the phone.

Still not sure?

Your plan choice is important and will depend on your individual retirement goals. Consider registering for an online webinar to learn more about your choices.