Selecting Your Plan
How to Select your OPERS Retirement Plan
As a member of Ohio PERS, you have 180 days from your first day of employment to select one of the three retirement plans: The Traditional Pension Plan, the Member-Directed Plan or the Combined Plan.
Step 1: Do any of the following apply to you?
If so, click on the question to view information about how it might affect your decision. If you need more information please call 1-800-222-7377 to schedule a counseling session with an OPERS representative.
Do you have service credit you can purchase?
Having service credit you can purchase (i.e. redeposit of a refund, military, etc.) may affect your retirement plan decision. Not all types of service credit can be purchased in all three plans. For example, if you previously took a refund from OPERS, that service can only be restored in the plan from which it was originally refunded. See Purchased service credit
in the Benefits of Membership Handbook
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. In addition, if your defined contribution account balance in the Member-Directed or Combined Plan is less than $5,000,your account could be charged a monthly inactive fee ranging from $2 to $6 (even if you continue working and contributing to the Traditional Pension Plan).
Do you work seasonally or intermittently?
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 have service with or plan to retire from another Ohio 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. (Concurrent service refers to the time that you contributed to one of the other systems at the same time you were contributing to OPERS. This service can never be combined.)
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.
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 (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 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.
In addition, if your defined contribution account balance in the Combined or Member-Directed Plan is less than$5,000 your account could be charged a monthly inactive fee (even if you continue working and contributing to the Money Purchase Plan).
Step 2: What is your preferred method of education?
Watch the Educational Opportunities video to learn about the different types of education OPERS provides for its members and which one might be right for you.
Visit the Educational Opportunities section to register for a seminar or a live, interactive webinar. You can also view a recorded presentation on a number of different topics – at any time!
You can choose to attend a live, interactive webinar, or watch a recorded presentation.
For help deciding which OPERS retirement plan is best for your career and retirement goals, participate in a How to Select Your OPERS Retirement Plan webinar. This presentation is for new members within their 180-day enrollment period.
This live and interactive webinar will provide you with:
- An overview and comparison of the three retirement plans
- Additional education and resources to help you select a plan
- A chance to have your questions answered by OPERS staff, and you can learn from other participants' questions
This is the same presentation offered in the Webinar. Because it's recorded, you won't have the opportunity to ask questions, but you can view it any time at your convenience.
Additional resources for selecting your plan
Step 3: Register for an Online Account and Choose Your Plan
Once you feel knowledgeable about your choices and confident in your decision,
you'll need to register for online access to select your plan.