OPERS’ rules for election workers

Election services by retirees OK under certain circumstances

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Oct. 24, 2017 — As this year’s election season approaches, it’s a good time to review whether OPERS retirees can work at the polls, and what impact that might have on their retirement benefits and access to health care.

Individuals employed as election workers and paid less than $600 per calendar year for that service are not considered public employees.

However, you should know what it means to be an “election worker” for purposes of participation in OPERS.

An election worker is “an individual who performs services as a precinct election official or voting location manager for the board of elections for a day the election polls are open and training or preparation for such service.”

If the combined amounts you are paid to work the polls on a given election day and the money you earn while training add up to $600 or more, you are considered a public employee from that point forward during the calendar year.

If an OPERS retiree works as an election worker and makes more than $600, the retiree may experience a change in eligibility for OPERS-sponsored health care coverage.

Regarding health care, OPERS has specific rules for re-employed retirees that differ depending on whether they’re eligible for Medicare and enrolled in a plan through the OPERS Medicare Connector or not yet eligible for Medicare while enrolled in OPERS group coverage.

Retirees should carefully evaluate the financial and health care issues surrounding re-employment in an OPERS-covered position. We have a comprehensive section of our website that explains how re-employment works, including the health care plan for re-employed retirees who are eligible for Medicare and what happens if you reach the re-employment earning level midyear or subsequently stop working in your OPERS-covered position. It includes a decision tool to help you navigate the process.

For questions about the specifics of your personal situation, you should contact us through your online account or at 1-800-222-7377.

 

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

  • I think this policy should be changed — with the huge need for poll workers, we who have retired should not have to possibly risk our status if we end up being paid so little. I never even thought about those ramifications — probably many people have no idea that working at the polls makes someone a public employee again. So, I’m glad this is being clarified, but I think OPERS should exempt anyone who takes training and only works at the polls during the election, regardless of the amount of pay.

    • Ms. Pockrose,

      This is an Internal Revenue Service rule, not OPERS policy. The IRS requires that those who use an HRA remain retired. OPERS developed a separate health care plan for re-employed retirees who are Medicare-eligible to avoid IRS penalties and to ensure that all retirees have access to supplemental coverage.

      Julie, OPERS

  • This rule as the rule that takes most of my social security, is just not right. They uv say thats social security is not a full retirement but a helper to your retirement, so why make it impossible for one to have a retirement. What little is made should at less equal that of social securitys yearly limits, regardless of where the income is made. Have you priced rx lately wow . This needs changed so badly.

  • How did this rule come into effect and what purpose does it serve to deny OPERS retirees opportunities to work part time without jeopardizing their health care coverage.

    • Ms. Schwartz,

      The IRS requires that those who use an HRA remain retired. In response, OPERS developed a separate health care plan for re-employed retirees who are Medicare-eligible to avoid IRS penalties and to ensure that all retirees have access to supplemental coverage.

      Julie, OPERS

  • If we want part-time at Wal MART or Lowes does that cause a problem with our Insurance also.Or if we work part-time at a hospital.

    • Ms. Redman,

      In the examples you’ve provided, you would not be in an “OPERS-covered position” and would not be considered a re-employed retiree. You may become employed in a position with a private employer and continue to receive access to OPERS health care. If you are eligible to receive Medicare, that includes the Connector and your HRA.

      Julie, OPERS

  • I am amazed that working at the polls can affect your pension!!!! What will the politicians think of next to confiscate more money???

    • As Mike Pramik notes, individuals employed as election workers and paid less than $600 per calendar year for that service are not considered re-employed retirees.

      Re-employed retirees who are eligible for Medicare and who enroll in a Medicare plan through OneExchange are not allowed to participate in the Health Reimbursement Arrangement. IRS rules state that only retirees can access the HRA, which we use to reimburse participants for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. OPERS created separate plans for pre-Medicare, re-employed retirees and for Medicare-eligible, re-employed retirees.

      We have a comprehensive section of our website that explains how re-employment works, including the health care plan for re-employed retirees who are eligible for Medicare. It includes a decision tool to help you navigate the process.

      Julie, OPERS

  • I am an OPERS retirant that turned 65 this August [2018]. I am on Medicare and receive the OPERS HRA monthly stipend.

    For the last several years I have been employed by the Franklin County Board of Elections twice a year, seven weeks for the primary election and seven weeks for the general election, as a warehouse worker. This ceased with my turning 65 so that I can maintain uninterrupted deposits to my HRA

    It has been proposed that I work as a dispatcher or as a day driver on the two election days only with my annual compensation being less than $600.00. This is not acting as a “precinct election official or voting location manager” per se (see previous questions/answers). Am I okay doing this? Thanks.

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