How Does State Retirement Work


What Is A Required Minimum Distribution

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If you are a Plan 3 customer who is separated or retired, you must withdraw a minimum amount from your retirement investment accounts every year starting when you reach age 72. This minimum distribution of funds is required by federal income tax regulations. DRS calculates and pays out the minimum amount to you each year. This is to help you avoid the 50% tax penalty the IRS can impose if the minimum is not withdrawn.The payments are automatically distributed to you, so no actions are needed for you to meet the requirements. But you can also choose to make the minimum withdrawals yourself. Here are the forms you need:

If you have investment funds in both the Self-Directed and the WSIB programs, your minimum payment will be withdrawn from your WSIB investment program account first. By completing the Plan 3 RMD form yourself, you can choose to have the money withdrawn differently.Note: The SECURE Act has raised the RMD age from 70 ½ to 72 for most retirees. However, retirees born before July 1, 1949 will still have an annual RMD starting in 2021. DRS recommends that you consult a tax advisor for information on how the new RMD legislation affects you.

Members Of More Than One Retirement Plan

If you are a member of more than one Washington state retirement system, you are a dual member. You can combine service credit earned in all dual member systems to become eligible for retirement. However, your retirement benefit will be calculated using only the service credit earned in each system.In most cases, your monthly benefit will be based on the highest base salary you earned, regardless of which system you earned it in. Base salary includes your wages and overtime and can include other cash payments if those payments are included as base salary in all the retirement systems you are retiring from.

What Is The Teachers Retirement System

TRS administers retirement benefits to employees of local school systems, charter schools, technical colleges, county and regional libraries, Regional Education Service Agencies , the University System of Georgia and certain state agencies. Established in 1943, TRS administers a single, defined retirement benefit that is determined by a calculation using the number of creditable years of service and final average salary multiplied by 2 percent. To receive any benefits, a member of TRS must have 10 years of service.

A complex combination of state laws, board rules and federal laws govern the management of TRS. Below is a short summary of the funding for TRS, the systems projected liabilities and how the state of Georgia has planned to address any outstanding obligations.

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Youll Need This Information

The following preparation can expedite your request:

Provide the dates for the missing service. Find your service credit history in your online account.

Let us know if there is a gap in your service credit or if you withdrew from your account.

  • If there is a gap in your service credit, do you know why? Were there any special circumstances around your employment at the time? Some common events for missing credit include: authorized leave of absence, childbirth, substitute teaching, temporary duty disability, or injury.
  • If you withdrew from your account, when did you pull out the contributions?

Returning To Wrs Employment

How Does My Pension Work?

If you left employment under the WRS and closed your account by taking a lump sum benefit, you must meet the 75-day minimum break in service requirement. Your participation requirement when returning to a WRS-employer will be the rules under on or after July 1, 2011 employment.

If you previously worked in a WRS-covered position and did not take a WRS lump sum or annuity benefit, you retain your earlier rights under the WRS and your employer is required to evaluate you under the one-third of full-time WRS eligibility criteria.

If you previously worked in a WRS-covered position and started an annuity benefit, your benefits may be affected if you return to work for a WRS employer. See the Returning to Work page for more information.

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How The Maine Retirement System Works

MainePERS is the states retirement system, but its broken down further to cover specific employees. At the same time, all of the plans and programs work similarly. For one, they are all defined contribution plans. Employees contribute a set percentage of their salaries into a fund. System management then invests the money in the fund with the goal of growing it enough to cover lifetime retirement benefits for members of MainePERS.

All contributions to the system are pre-tax. Members dont pay income tax on the money until they withdraw it or until they receive it as retirement benefits. As with other state retirement plans, MainePERS plans qualify with the IRS as 401 plans.

As mentioned, MainePERS breaks down into multiple plans and programs, with each covering a certain group of workers. The table below breaks down who each plan covers.

Maine Retirement Plans
Standard retirement plan, covering most public employees
MainePERS Teacher Plan Part of the MainePERS State Plan, but tailored specifically to help public school teachers understand their benefits
Maine Legislative Retirement Program Covers all legislators who began serving on or after December 3, 1986
MainePERS Judicial Retirement Program Covers all judges and justices who serve in Maine
MainePERS for Participating Local Districts Applies to employees who work for a local government that participates in MainePERS

The Rate Of Future Accrual

While accrued benefits are generally well protected, the same is not always true for pension benefits that current employees might earn for future service. Eleven states protect all participants against changes from their first day of employment. An additional three states provide such protection once a participant has satisfied the plans minimum service requirements and is therefore vested. Seven states protect the rate of future accrual only for some participants or only in specific situations, and in 16 states there is no legal protection for the rate of future pension accruals. Finally, in 13 states there is no relevant legal authority on the issue of future accruals.

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What Are My Payment Options

Investment withdrawals Your Plan 3 investment account offers several options for withdrawals.

  • Receive one-time or regular payments in an amount and frequency you choose
  • Purchase an annuity such as the Plan 3 TAP annuity
  • Roll your Plan 3 contributions into another eligible employer plan

You can also leave your Plan 3 savings invested for as long as you want even if you separate from Plan 3-covered employment. While the timing and amount of your payments are up to you, your investment account does have minimum withdrawals required by the federal government when you reach a certain age. See required minimum distributions.

Pension benefit Your Plan 3 pension account payments will be monthly and the amount you receive is based on a set formula. To estimate the monthly payments youll receive, use the online benefit estimator.

Can I change my payment options?

Investment payment options:Yes, once you begin receiving payments, you can change your payment amount, tax withholding, frequency of payments and payment date at any time. Make changes through your online investment account or using the paper forms listed in the section above.

Pension payment options:You cannot change the amount or frequency of the pension payments, but you can change the tax withholding by submitting an IRS form W-4P.

Teachers & State Employees Retirement Program

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This program is sponsored by the State of North Carolina and governed by the Department of the State Treasurer.

TSERS is as a defined benefit plan and the benefit you receive at retirement is based on a formula. This formula considers your years and months of creditable service, your age, and your average final compensation, which is the average of your salary during your four highest paid consecutive years. Neither the investment experience of the plan assets nor the amount contributed by you and the University, on your behalf, directly determines the amount of the guaranteed benefit you will receive at retirement.

All permanent SHRA or EHRA full-time employees who work 30 or more hours per week will have the option to choose between TSERS or the Optional Retirement Program .

Contribution Amount & Participation

You are required to contribute 6% of your salary on a pre-tax basis -no more, no less. The plan is also funded by University contributions those this money goes into the general pension fund. Contributions begin on day one of eligibility and retroactive contributions are deducted in one lump sum.


Retirement benefits in TSERS are fully vested after you complete five years of membership service. If you leave State employment before completing five years of creditable service, you may:

Death & Survivor Benefits

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Who Is Eligible To Participate In The Wrs

The Wisconsin Retirement System covers state and local public employees, including faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin System, local police and firefighters, and all publicly-employed teachers in the state.

Your employer is required to cover you as a participating employee if your job position meets WRS Participation Requirements:

If you first became a WRS employee on or after July 1, 2011:

  • You must be expected to work at least 2/3 of full-time.
  • 880 hours for teachers and educational support employees of school districts and
  • 1,200 hours for all other non-teaching employees.
  • You are expected to be employed for at least one year.
  • If you first became a WRS employee before July 1, 2011:

    • You must be expected to work at least 1/3 of full-time.
    • 440 hours for teachers and educational support employees of school districts and
    • 600 hours for all other non-teaching employees.
  • You are expected to be employed for at least one year.
  • If your position is not expected to meet both requirements when you are first hired, you will not be enrolled in the WRS. If your position meets the eligibility criteria at a later date, you may become eligible and be enrolled in the WRS at that time.

    Can A States Fiscal Distress Justify Altering Benefits

    A state that treats pension benefits as contractual in nature is generally prohibited under the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution from passing legislation that substantially impairs that contract. However, because states are sovereigns, they have certain rights that cannot be contracted away, such as the right to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens . As a result, significant fiscal distress may allow a state to exercise its police power to make changes to pension benefits that would otherwise be unconstitutional.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has developed a three-part test to determine if a state is justified in its use of the police power to impair its own contract. The test is a difficult one to satisfy and depends in part on the states establishing that the change was the least-drastic method of achieving an important public purpose. In the pension context, the state would need to establish that fiscal distress required a change to pension benefits and that the change made was the least-drastic means of addressing the financial condition.

    To date, there have been only two reported cases that rely solely on the police power to justify otherwise unconstitutional changes to pension benefits both were decisions of the Rhode Island Superior Court.5

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    State And Local Government Employment

    Work you do for a state or local government agency, including a school system, college or university, is covered by Social Security in certain cases.

    If you are covered by both your state or local pension plan and Social Security, you pay Social Security and Medicare taxes just as you would for any other Social Security covered job. You will see your earnings on your Social Security Statement record.

    If you are covered only by your state or local pension plan:

    • You don’t pay Social Security taxes and your earnings won’t be on your Social Security record.
    • Your pension from noncovered state or local government employment may affect the amount of your:

    More Information About Federal Limits

    A Healthy Retirement

    The IRS characterizes the retirement systems as 401 defined benefit plans. To retain status as qualified plans, the systems must comply with federal regulations. For more information about salary limit regulations, see Internal Revenue Code Section 401. For more about benefit limit regulations, see IRC 415.

    For more information see these IRS resources:

    See a live or recorded benefit options webinar.

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    Teachers Retirement System Plan 3

    TRS Plan 3 has two parts: pension and investment. Your employer contributes to your pension, and you contribute to the investment account. When you meet plan requirements and retire, you are guaranteed a monthly benefit for the rest of your life from the employer-funded pension. With the investment part, you choose when to begin withdrawing funds, which can be any time after you separate employment.

    You contribute between 5% and 15% of your wages to your investment account. You select this percentage when you begin employment.

    More about Plan 3 contribution rates

    Member contribution rate optionsOption A 5% all agesOption B 5% up to age 35 6% ages 35 through 44 7.5% ages 45 and olderOption C 6% up to age 35 7.5% ages 35 through 44 8.5% ages 45 and olderOption D 7% all ages Option E 10% all agesOption F 15% all ages

    If you dont choose a contribution rate, your withholding will default to Option A. Once your rate is set, you can change it only when you change Plan 3-covered employers. Changing means working for a different employer, not another division or department within your current workplace.

    See a live or recorded Plan 3 webinar.

    Overview Of Maines Retirement Systems

    MainePERS State Plan This is the standard retirement pension plan and it covers the majority of public employees. Once you become a state employee, you need to become a member. You will also begin contributing to the plan as soon as you receive your first paycheck. Members contribute 7.65% of their salaries to the plan.

    To receive retirement benefits, you will need to earn a certain amount of service credit and reach a certain age. Service credit is simply the amount of time you have worked as a member. In general, one year of full time work equals one year of service credit. It you are a part-time worker, the credit you earn is the ratio of how much time you worked versus how much time a full-time employee would work. For example, if you work half as many hours in one year as a full-time member employee works for the same job, then you will earn half the amount of service credit.

    If you had at least 10 years of service credit before July 1, 1993, you can retire with full benefits at the age of 60. For those who became members after July, 1, 2011, you can expect to work until 65 before you can retire with full benefits. If you had less than 10 years of service credit before July 1, 2011, you may be eligible to retire at age 62 with full benefits.

    To calculate your retirement benefit, you can use the following formula:

    Retirement Benefit = Average Final Compensation x Years of Service Credit x Accrual Rate

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    Internal Revenue Salary Limit For Active Members

    If you began public service before 1/1/96

    • You dont have a salary limit
    • You pay contributions on all salary earned
    • DRS does not adjust your Average Final Compensation for limit testing purposes
    • Your pension calculation is not affected by salary limits
    • IRC section 415 requires that your annual benefit must not exceed the limit. If you dont exceed the benefit limit at the time you retire, it is still possible that your benefit may be affected at a later date.

    If you began public service on or after 1/1/96

    • The current year salary limit applies
    • The salary limit is the same for all members and is adjusted annually by the IRS
    • If you reach the salary limit in a calendar year, you stop paying contributions
    • DRS notifies your employer when you approach the salary limit
    • Your Annual Final Compensation is capped for limit testing purposes if it includes the years you exceeded the salary limit
    • Your pension calculation is affected by salary limits

    Defined Benefit Plan Vs Defined Contribution Plan

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    If you are looking to teach in a public school your retirement plan will most likely be what is called a defined benefit plan, aka a pension, managed by your state government.

    If you are looking to teach in a private or charter school your retirement plan will likely be a defined contribution plan, or a retirement account like a 401k, 403b, etc.

    Whats the difference? Well as short and simple as possible, both plans involve both you and your employer making contributions to the plan while you are working and then you receive payments from the plan during your retirement years. But there are significant differences between these plans.

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    How Are Teacher Pensions Calculated In Indiana

    The pension wealth you receive from your school district will be calculated based on how many years of service you have. But its important to note that Indiana assesses an educators final salary using their highest 5-year average salary.

    For example, after teaching in public schools for 25 years and achieving an average annual salary of $70,000, you are qualified to receive 27.5% of your final years income, like retirement benefits.

    For example, those who work for 25 years with a final average salary of $70,000 would be eligible for an annual pension benefit worth 27.5 percent of their final salary. But as noted, the DB plan is only a small part of a teachers retirement options under the hybrid plan.

    1.1% Multiplier x Years of service x Avg. highest five years of salary

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