We can answer eligibility questions

OPERS maintains separate criteria for pensions, health care coverage

By Kristen Dohrmann, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Dec. 13, 2018 – An important piece of retirement planning is knowing not only when you’ll be financially ready to retire but also when you’ll meet OPERS’ age-and-service eligibility requirements. But retirement eligibility doesn’t always equal health care eligibility. You have to meet separate eligibility requirements for access to health care.

Currently, OPERS offers health care coverage to retirees 60 or older with at least 20 years of qualifying service, and to all retirees with 30-32 years of qualifying service credit (depending on retirement group).

You may be asking, “What is qualifying service credit?” Service credit represents the period of time during which you are employed by a public employer and making contributions to OPERS. You earn service credit for each month you contribute to OPERS.

However, only certain types of service credit count toward health care eligibility. They are:

  • Contributing service – service credit earned when your contributions are submitted to OPERS by your employer and posted to your account
  • Eligible service in another Ohio retirement system – any service credit you earned while working for one of Ohio’s five retirement systems
  • Military time that interrupts public service (USERRA) – if you entered the military while working for an OPERS employer and returned to work at the same public employer
  • Unreported public service – service during which no contributions were submitted to OPERS
  • OPERS redeposit (restored) service – If you took a refund from the Traditional Pension or Combined plan, returned to OPERS-covered employment and redeposited the refunded amount into the same plan

Visit the “Retiring from this plan” section of the Traditional Pension and Combined plan pages to view the Pension and Health Care Eligibility Guide. This guide can help you determine when you will qualify for both a retirement benefit and access to health care.

Your annual statement also shows you when you’ll be eligible to retire and gives you an estimated monthly benefit amount. You can even see how much service credit you have that will count toward health care. You can find your 2017 annual statement on your online account and 2018 statements will begin mailing in April of next year.

    • To be eligible, OPERS retirees must have 20 years of qualifying service credit, be retired from the Traditional or Combined pension plans, and be age 60 or older. Members with more than 30 years of qualifying service may be eligible at any age, depending on their retirement group. For more information, go to the health care section of the OPERS website at https://www.opers.org/healthcare/index.shtml.

      Julie, OPERS

  • Do your retirement funds continue to grow if you no longer contribute to them? I do not plan to receive benefits for 5 five years after I quit OPERS employment.

    • Yes, you will continue to earn interest on your employee contributions and any amounts paid to purchase service credit. The interest granted each year is the interest rate in effect at that time and is set annually by the OPERS Board of Trustees. For more information go to https://www.opers.org/members/refunds.shtml or call us at 1-800-222-7377.

      Julie, OPERS

    • Cheryl,

      Medical premiums are deducted from the monthly pension benefit. If the benefit is less than the amount to cover the health care premium, the entire benefit will be applied to the premium and OPERS will bill you for the remainder.

      –Ohio PERS

  • Is family health care coverage available? If not, how does my spouse receive healthcare? If so, what is the current cost for spousal coverage? I am 55 yrs of age and eligible for social security @ age 65 however my wife is not eligible for social security because she does not have the required earned credits, she is currently 66 yrs of age? As it stands now, we are covered by my employers health care group plan. I will retire next year then what about health care?

    • There will be no allowance for dependents as of Jan. 1, 2022. However, you could use your allowance to be reimbursed for premiums or other qualified medical expenses for an eligible dependent.

      • Is family health care coverage available and, if so I am free to spend my allowance for this type of coverage? Where can I find examples of coverage types to review coverage options?

        • Researching what is available in your area will help you prepare to select a plan for 2022. The Ohio Department of Insurance at insurance.ohio.gov is an excellent resource for learning about insurance products and plans.

          All ACA qualified plans for 2020 are available for review at http://www.healthcare.gov. Click on the “Preview Now” button under the “See Plans & Prices” section just below the main body. You will be asked a few questions about income and where you live. You can then preview 2020 plans in your area. In addition, based on your income, you will find out whether you qualify for the tax credits, also known as the federal subsidy, that can lower your premiums. Please know that rates, plan options and carriers are likely to change each year.

          And, you can use your pre-Medicare allowance for a plan outside the ACA as well, such as through an employers, spouse’s employer or private insurance carrier.

          Julie, oPERS

  • >