Options for retirement

OPERS offers choices when it comes to receiving pension benefits

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

April 30, 2019 – We receive good feedback from members and retirees when we post a blog. Sometimes we think the questions should be answered so all our stakeholders can be informed.

Thus, periodically we use the PERSpective blog to answer some of those questions that we think will have widespread interest.

Q: I’m age 65 and working full-time, still covered by OPERS. I have less than 15 years in the system, however, and I’d like to know what my options are for retirement. When I do retire, can I roll over my OPERS account into an IRA? Or do I have to take a pension?

A: Your retirement payout options can be summarized into three main options, regardless of whether you’re enrolled in our Traditional, Member-Directed or Combined pension plan: Take the entire amount as a lifetime annuity, take part of your account as a lump sum and the remainder as a lifetime annuity, or refund your entire account.

If you choose to take the entire amount as a lifetime annuity, the benefit is payable for your lifetime. There are three payment plans available: the single life plan, the joint life plan or the multiple life plan. The joint or multiple life plans might be attractive if there’s someone you want to leave a monthly benefit to after your death.

If you choose to take part of your account as a lump sum payment, you can still access the same lifetime annuity payment plans. However, your monthly benefit from the remainder will be lower. In the Traditional and Combined plans, this is referred to as a partial lump sum option payment, or PLOP. In the Member-Directed Plan, you choose the percentage of your final account balance you want to annuitize, so the remaining percentage can be taken as a lump sum.

If the lifetime annuity is not for you, you always have the option of refunding your entire vested account. Two months must pass after your termination of employment before your refund could be issued.

If you choose to take part of your account as a lump sum or refund your account, you do have options to roll over some or part of the lump sum into another retirement account, which could reduce or delay the tax liability from the lump sum.

If you’re eligible for a monthly benefit but are considering refunding your account, we highly recommend that you call us or come to our office and speak with a counselor. You can set up that appointment via your online account, or by calling us at 800-222-7377.

Q: I will be winding down my OPERS-covered employment in the next few years to retire, but I’d like to keep working a bit in an OPERS job after I retire if possible. How can I find what jobs in the state are covered by OPERS?

A: We have about 3,700 employers across Ohio, so there are a multitude of jobs that qualify. The best way to see a list is to use the employer search feature on the OPERS website.

You can search by name, address or type of employer. It’s possible to narrow the searches by city, county or classification, such as state, college or municipal.

You also can download the entire list of employers in pdf or Excel format.

Keep in mind that as an OPERS re-employed retiree, your health care coverage will be affected. To see how, check out the re-employment section of the OPERS website.

Q: I have more than 21 years of service in OPERS, but I’d like to move to another state. Can I leave my funds intact and collect a monthly retirement in the future? Or will I forfeit the amount my employer has paid in?

A: You certainly can leave your account with OPERS. We have hundreds of thousands such accounts. When you’ve reached the appropriate age for retirement, you can then collect your pension. Know that it’s also possible to purchase credit for service you’ve performed in another state that would have been covered by an Ohio state retirement system. Read our Service Credit and Contributing Months leaflet for more information.

It’s also possible to refund your account, if you’d like. You’ll be eligible to receive your vested account balance plus interest, which may include an additional amount depending on your retirement plan and years of service.”

It’s also possible to refund your account, if you’d like. We have a section of the OPERS website dedicated to information on this option. This section of our website helps answer the question, “Can I leave my money with OPERS?”

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

  • if say traditional pension plan. The estimated monthly payment for a given individual if say $3K per month. What does the payment statement look like in relation to deductions ? federal? state? municipal? can OPERS show example of what such really looks like from gross monthly payment to net monthly payment. Understood possible variables still to see some concrete examples would help.

    • The deductions taken from a monthly retirement benefit could include federal and state income taxes and health care premiums, if applicable. Please contact us at 800-222-7377 and a member of our staff would be happy to provide you with more specific information based on your situation.

      Julie, OPERS

  • My wife just retired from OPERS and I am considering retiring in the future, Will she still be covered on my insurance, or do I have to buy separate for her?

    • Please call us at 800-222-7377 and a member of our staff can help you.

      Julie, OPERS

    • If you leave public service, but don’t retire, you can leave your account on deposit, and become an inactive member. (You can obtain a refund once you fully retire from public employment and receive a benefit from OPERS.) If you return to public service, you will continue to add to your account.

      If you decide to refund your account, and return to OPERS-covered employment, you will be treated as a new member.

      Julie, OPERS

  • A portion of my PERS account includes after tax dollars. I want to take a PLOP but roll it over into an IRA. I do not want to roll over any after tax dollars. How are PLOP distributions handled when your account includes after tax contributions?

  • I am a divorced 65 year old with 24 years of service. I have paid into both OPERS and SS. Because of the WEP and GPO I can’t afford to retire. I was counting on all of my OPERS, all of my SS and as stated in my divorce decree and SS, half of my ex-spouse SS retirement income. Now I only get a portion of my SS and none of my ex-spouse SS retirement income. For me that’s a big loss. The WEP and GPO should be done away with.

    • I agree with you. I worked 20 years in the private sector and will loose about 550.00 of my social security to collect 1100.00 in opers. It is not fair. People who worked 30 years in the private sector and any years in the public sector receive all of their pension and Social Security. Mine is not going to be enough to live on. I just don’t understand why am being penalized. The WEP act needs to be taken away

    • Absolutely … it’s a legal form of theft in my mind.

      I’m in the same situation … nearly 69 years old and no light at the end of the tunnel.

  • If I applied for my retirement like 9 days before my two months mark will it get refunded into my account after the 9 days or will I have to re apply

    • If you’re asking about applying for a refund, OPERS can process a refund application as long as the member has terminated employment, but we can’t issue the payment until the two-month requirement has passed. A refund can be processed in that two month waiting period, but just not issued. If your question is about something else, please call us at 1-800-222-7377.

      Julie, OPERS

  • If at the end of your career, you refund your OPERS account and roll it over into an IRA will you be eligible for your SS that you earned in prior private sector careers? Or collect your spouses if they pass?

  • I am receiving OPERS retirement benefits. My husband is now eligible for Social Security, the Social Security administration tells me I should file a claim for some of his benefits . I know this will affect how much I receive from Soc. Sec. but will my OPERS retirement monthly be affected.

  • My husband and I have a unique situation – a 40 year age difference. We also have two children. We are using the benefits calculator on the OPERS website. Should we rely on the results provided by the calculator, or would special rules apply to our situation (we are looking at a Joint Life Plan)?

    • Ana,

      I encourage you to call us at 1-800-222-7377 to receive a personalized estimate based on you and your spouse’s ages. We can’t provide personalized information online.

      Julie, OPERS

  • It is great that this post pointed out that there are different options to retirement. My kids will be starting work soon. I will definitely share with them that it is important to have a financial plan for retirement.

  • I am 53 years old and have 28.5 years in PERS retirement at 2%. I have the classic PERS if that means anything. The Correctional Facility that I work for is closing Oct 31, 2020 2 years short of age 55. If I were to retire now at 53 what would the consequences be or if any? My retirement does allow me to retire at age 50 but I would of liked 55, would there be a big difference? QUESTION 2. My wife worked HR in the private sector for 8 years and had SS taken out during that time, she then became a full time teacher for 8 years then left and now currently works for a CSU for the past 8 years, she is 56. Will she be able to collect SS at 62 and would it be wise to roll over her STERS into hers PERS acct?

    • Please forward your questions through your online account message center or contact us at 800-222-7377.

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