Answers to OPERS member questions

This month, learn about system demographics, refunds and health care eligibility

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

May 23, 2024 – Members and retirees often ask us questions through our social media channels that others could benefit from. Periodically we post these questions and answers in our PERSpective blog.

This month we’re addressing questions about OPERS demographics, refund payments, eligibility for health care, and more.

Q: How many members does OPERS have? How do the numbers break down according to which divisions they’re in?

A: At the end of 2023, OPERS had more than 1.27 million members. That total figure breaks down, generally, to 717,000 in our local division, 538,000 in our state division, and about 16,000 in our law enforcement and public safety divisions, combined.

From a member/retiree perspective, at the end of 2023, OPERS had about 300,000 active members, 730,000 inactive members and 222,000 retirees.

Q: I worked for a public employer back in the 1980s. I was told there could be money in an OPERS account for me. How do I go about finding out?

A: If you have been inactive as an OPERS contributing member for that long, you should contact us at 800-222-7377 for further assistance. Our Member Services department is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Q: If a spouse is awarded OPERS funds in a divorce, can they immediately collect those funds?

A: No. The portion of benefits that an ex-spouse is entitled to according to the division of property order is not issued until the OPERS member receives a benefit. There is more information about this topic in the OPERS Domestic Relations leaflet.

Q: I applied for a refund of my OPERS account. How long will it take to get the money?

A: There is a mandatory two-month waiting period from the member’s last day of employment certified by their employer before OPERS can process and release a refund. If the two months already have passed since the last day of employment, the processing time is within 15 to 20 business days once we receive all the required documents.

Refunds from the Member-Directed and Combined plans could take a little longer. Once we process the refund request, we transmit the file to Voya for additional processing.

Q: How old do you have to be to become eligible for OPERS health care?

A: Health-care eligibility depends on a few factors in addition to age, including your years of service credit, whether you’re retiring with an unreduced or reduced pension, and which retirement group you’re in.

Your retirement group is always printed on your OPERS annual Member Statement, which you can find in your OPERS online account. Because the minimum age to be eligible for health care also depends on these other factors, we can’t say definitively that you can be eligible at any specific age.

Refer to the OPERS website to see when you can become eligible for health care under various scenarios.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

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