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.