Retirees

Re-employment

If you are thinking about becoming re-employed, please take a moment to thoroughly read through this section to understand how returning to work may affect your monthly pension payment and health care coverage. Prior to re-employment, contact OPERS for specific information regarding these areas.

Re-employment and your Benefits

Now that you are or are soon to be an age and service retiree or disability benefit recipient, re-employment in a job covered by OPERS, including service in an elected position, may affect continuing receipt of your benefit.

In the event you become re-employed by an OPERS-covered employer, you must inform the employer that you are receiving an OPERS benefit. Potential re-employment plans should be discussed with the employer to determine whether there are any restrictions or policies on re-employment.

Employers are not required to re-hire employees after retirement.

The information provided in this section is intended to inform you of the general restrictions on re-employment. Prior to your re-employment, you should contact OPERS for specific information regarding the effect re-employment may have on your monthly benefit payment.

The entirety of the benefit changes information found in this area is also located in the Retiree Handbook. Click on the links provided below to view, and also print, the entire Retiree Handbook or just the section pertaining to benefit changes.

Returning to Public Employment

Age & Service Retiree

As an age and service retiree, you may become re-employed in an OPERS-covered position. Re-employed retirees contribute to the Money Purchase Plan.

Contributions to OPERS must begin from the first day of re-employment. You must complete, and your employer must certify, a Notice of re-employment of an OPERS Benefit Recipient by the end of your first month of employment.

If you become re-employed on a full-time basis by a public college or university, you will have the option of choosing the OPERS Money Purchase Plan or an Alternative Retirement Plan.*

In most instances, re-employed retirees will continue to receive their retirement allowance during re-employment. However, if you become re-employed anytime within the first two months after your retirement benefit effective date, you will forfeit your retirement allowance during this two-month period.

Contributions remitted during the two-month forfeiture period will not be included in the calculation of a Money Purchase Plan benefit. This penalty will apply even if you waive your salary for this two-month period or volunteer for the period of re-employment.

Forfeiture of your monthly benefit payment will interrupt your retiree health care coverage.

While re-employed, your employer must provide your primary health care coverage if it is available to other employees in comparable positions. You cannot waive the the employer's health care coverage.

Upon termination of re-employment, you will be eligible to apply for either a refund of contributions prior to age 65 or a Money Purchase Plan as a lump sum or annuity benefit on and after age 65. 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 matching amount. You can choose to receive the benefit in either a lump sum payment or as a monthly benefit.**

If you choose to receive monthly benefits, joint and survivor options are also available. If you were to die before receiving the Money Purchase Plan benefit, your beneficiary(ies) would receive a lump sum payment.

Disability Benefit Recipient

If you are receiving a disability benefit, your benefits will terminate if you return to public service as an employee or elected official. The public employer must notify OPERS in writing by certifying and sending a Notice of Re-employment of an OPERS Benefit Recipient form. Any overpayment of benefits due to a failure of notice is the liability of the employer. Contributions must be remitted to OPERS during re-employment.

Employment with a private employer or with an employer covered by State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) or School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS) may affect continued receipt of disability benefits. Disability benefit recipients should contact OPERS before becoming re-employed.

* As required by Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(9), a Money Purchase Plan benefit must be taken by April 1 of the year following attainment of age 70 1/2, if you are no longer actively re-employed in an OPERS-covered position.

** The Money Purchase Plan offers the same lifetime payment options for annuity payments offered under OPERS, with the exception of the Life with Fixed Period Plan (Plan E).

College & University

OPERS retirees who become re-employed on a full-time basis by a public university or college have the option of participating in OPERS and contributing toward a Money Purchase Plan account or they may be eligible to participate in an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP).

Re-employed retirees who change their employment status with a public institution or college from part-time to full-time may also be eligible to participate in an ARP. Your college or university employer will provide you with the necessary forms to make this election.

The election to participate in an ARP must be completed within 120 days from the date of re-employment or change in status from part-time to full-time. This election is irrevocable while you remain employed by the public institution or college and you will not contribute to OPERS for this service.

Elected Officials

Members who are age and service retirees under OPERS and return to OPERS-covered employment as an elected official are treated as re-employed retirees.

However, if OPERS members contributed for non-elected service and are also an elected official who contributed to Social Security for the elected position, the elected service has no effect on their OPERS retirement, and they are not considered OPERS re-employed retirees for subsequent service as an elected official.

Limitation

There is a limitation for an elected official who retires from OPERS during a term of office and is re-appointed to the position during the same term or is elected to the position in the next consecutive term.

For these elected officials, the retirement allowance is suspended, which results in the pension portion of the allowance being forfeited and the annuity portion of the allowance being suspended for the term(s) unless the elected official:

  1. Retired at least 90 days prior to the general election;
  2. Files a written notice of intent to retire with the county board of elections at least 90 days prior to the primary election for the term in which the retirement occurred or 90 days prior to the date on which the primary would have been held; or
  3. Is appointed to the same position and notifies the appointing authority, in writing, that they retired or intend to retire before the end of the term.

You must complete and return to OPERS a Notice of Re-employment of a Retired Elected or Appointed Office to an Elected Position form (SR-6E) PDF by the end of your first month of employment. Failure to provide OPERS with timely notice of re-employment will result in employer liability for any overpaid benefits.

Special Notice & Hearing

If you are being re-employed in the same Ohio PERS-covered position that is customarily filled by a vote of members of a board or commission or by the legislative authority of a county, municipal corporation or township, the following must occur:

  1. Not less than 60 days before the re-employment commenced, the OPERS employer gave public notice (containing the time, date, and location at which a public meeting was to take place) that the person is or will be retired and will be returning to work in the same position; and
  2. Between 15 and 30 days before the re-employment commenced, the OPERS employer held a public meeting on the issue of re-employing an OPERS benefit recipient in the same position.

You must complete and return to OPERS a Notice of Re-employment of an OPERS Benefit Recipient form by the end of your first month of employment. Failure to provide OPERS with timely notice of re-employment will result in employer liability for any overpaid benefits.

Independent Contractor

An OPERS retiree who enters into a contract to provide services to the employer the retirant was employed by at the time of retirement, or to any employer within the first two months of retirement, will forfeit pension benefits and access to health care through OPERS for the entire period of service as an independent contractor.

The public employer is required to provide notice of your service as an independent contractor by completing and returning to OPERS a Notice of Re-employment of an OPERS Benefit Recipient form by the end of the first month of service.

Retirees providing services as independent contractors are also required to complete the Independent Contractor/Worker Acknowledgment form.

Disability Benefit Recipient

If you are receiving a disability benefit, your benefits will terminate if you return to public service as an employee or elected official. The public employer must notify OPERS in writing by certifying and sending a Notice of Re-employment of an OPERS Benefit Recipient form. Any overpayment of benefits due to a failure of notice is the liability of the employer. Contributions must be remitted to OPERS during re-employment.

Employment with a private employer or with an employer covered by State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) or School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS) may affect continued receipt of disability benefits. Disability benefit recipients should contact OPERS before becoming re-employed.

Joint Retirement

If you are receiving a joint retirement benefit based on service with one or more of the three non-uniformed state retirement systems (i.e., OPERS, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), and School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS)), you will be subject to the re-employment restrictions applicable to the retirement system under which you are re-employed.

For example, if you are receiving a joint retirement or disability benefit from OPERS that includes service from SERS, and you become re-employed by a public employer that is covered under SERS, then you are subject to the re-employment restrictions governed by SERS.

Please contact OPERS for a determination with respect to any such re-employment.

Private Sector

If you are receiving an age and service retirement benefit, you may become employed in a position with a private employer and continue to receive benefits.

However, if you wish to undertake employment in the private sector, are receiving a disability benefit, and are subject to an annual re-examination you should notify Ohio PERS before you begin employment for a determination as to whether the private employment will result in your being subject to a reexamination to determine your continued eligibility to receive disability benefits.

Re-employment and your Health Care

If you retire and then return to work in an OPERS-covered position, OPERS requires you to enroll in your employer's health plan providing the employer offers coverage to other employees in similar positions. You cannot waive your employer's plan unless you have other health coverage, allowing the OPERS health plan to be your secondary payer.

If your employer offers health coverage and you do not enroll in it, your OPERS health benefits will be reduced by the amount that would have been covered by your employer's plan. You do not have to provide coverage for your dependents under your employer's health plan. However, you must be enrolled in the OPERS health care plan in order to enroll your dependents. OPERS will not provide you or your eligible dependents health care coverage during a suspension or forfeiture of your retirement allowance.

Federal law prohibits you from being covered by the OPERS health care plan as secondary coverage if you are enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health savings account (HAS).

Health Care Changes for Re-employed Retirees

OPERS has approved changes to health care coverage for re-employed retirees, and the new rules will go into effect in 2016.

Re-employed retirees are those who draw their OPERS pension while employed in an OPERS-covered position. Retirees receiving an OPERS pension while employed by a private employer, or a public employer that does not participate in OPERS, do not fit the definition of “re-employed retiree” and are not affected by the new rules.

The changes are in response to federal health care regulations that affect OPERS members who go back to work for an OPERS-covered employer after they’ve retired. OPERS will create separate plans for non-Medicare, re-employed retirees and for Medicare-eligible, re-employed retirees, both effective Jan. 1, 2016. We’ll provide details in the 2016 OPERS open enrollment bulletin this summer.

Re-employed retirees are classified as active public employees when they go back to work, even if it’s for only a few days each year.

That status precludes Medicare-eligible, re-employed retirees who join the OPERS Medicare Connector next year from participating in the Health Reimbursement Arrangement. Federal rules state that only retirees can access the HRA, which we will use to reimburse participants for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Connector participants who become re-employed will have the following choices:

  • Select their employer’s coverage if the employer offers it, which is a requirement of our health care coverage.
  • Remain in the plan they selected through the Connector but without receiving their HRA allowance or being able to access funds they may have accumulated in the account. (There are plans available that offer premiums as low as zero dollars per month that could make this option more attractive.)
  • Leave the plan they selected through the Connector and enroll in the OPERS re-employed retiree plan. OPERS will provide the appropriate allowance similar to our current health care plan, based on age and service. If the allowance doesn’t cover the full premium, we would deduct the remaining amount from retirees’ pension benefits.

Eligible spouses and dependents would be included in the re-employed retiree plan if the retiree opts for that coverage.

About 28 percent of our re-employed retirees go from retirement to re-employment and back to retirement in the same year. Our new plan will allow Connector participants to do this once per calendar year. That will permit re-employed retirees who become fully retired again to have their HRA accounts and allowances unfrozen so they can fund a Connector-selected plan instead of waiting until the new plan year begins.

Like Connector participants, re-employed retirees under 65 will have a separate plan made available to them. The plan will be similar to the retiree-only, non-Medicare plan for 2015. Premium allowances will follow the new allowance table, which you can find on page 5 of the Comprehensive Guide to Pension and Health Care Changes.

More Information

Re-employment Decision Tool

This tool is designed to help you navigate the paths of returning to work for a private employer/private sector, a non-OPERS covered public employer and an OPERS-covered public employer, and illustrates the affects to pension benefits and health care for each setting.

Using the tool requires the ability to open Microsoft PowerPoint documents. If your computer does not have Microsoft PowerPoint installed, you can download Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer for free.

Download the Re-employment decision tool

Note: Internet Explorer

When prompted to 'Open' or 'Save' the file, users of Internet Explorer should select 'Save' and then open the file from their downloads folder. This will ensure the tool opens correctly in presentation mode.