OPERS answers member questions

Partial-lump-sum option payments have several specific rules

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Aug. 6, 2019 – We receive many questions through our social media sites, but we can’t always post responses to them.

So periodically we’ll use our PERSpective blog to answer some of those questions that we believe will have widespread interest.

Q: What are my options if I decide to take a partial-lump-sum payment when I retire?

A: OPERS members retiring from the Traditional Pension Plan or Combined Pension Plan can choose to take a partial-lump-sum option payment (we abbreviate it as PLOP) in addition to their defined benefit pension. The PLOP reduces the monthly pension amount, but members receive a lump sum of payment up front.

There are several rules and details regarding the PLOP, so we recommend that members who consider choosing this payment at retirement take advantage of all the OPERS resources that are available to them – including printed materials and videos on our website, and one-on-one appointments with our counselors.

OPERS members can roll over some or all of their PLOP into other retirement vehicles, including IRAs and 401(k)s, instead of taking a cash payment. For account specific information questions , please call us at 800-222-7377.

Q: I’m retiring soon. Who can I talk to if I have questions as that day approaches?

A: As we mentioned above, our Member Services department is a great resource for members planning to retire (for all members and retirees, actually).

But for those members who soon will be retiring, we cannot overstress the importance of making an appointment with one of our skilled counselors here at our Columbus office. OPERS counselors can guide you through the retirement process and help you to see what your many options are for when you finally set your retirement effective date. We recommend coming to see us at least two months in advance.

We can’t provide advice. But we can offer assistance through all the stages of our members’ working careers and retirement. Give us a call at 800-222-7377 to set up an appointment.

Q: I’m an OPERS retiree, and I’m planning to work for my local board of elections this fall. What do I need to know regarding OPERS rules for this process?

A: First, you need to know that individuals employed as election workers and who are paid less than $600 per calendar year for that service are not considered public employees. So, if that’s the case for you, you will not be considered a re-employed retiree.

Here’s the definition of “election worker” for OPERS purposes: 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 will be considered a public employee and contributions will be remitted on the amount you earn.

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. For more information on how re-employment may impact your health care, refer to our PERSpective blog posting on this subject, which contains additional resources that can help you.


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 worked for the State of Ohio many years ago. How do I find info regarding my retirement benefits?

  • I get a SS benefit monthly. The Wep penalty is so complex and difficult to understand. Do you have info that could inform me, in a simpler way, how this effects my SS. benefit? Thanks.

  • I should have received the same secure retirement as a state of Ohio retiree in the same pay range as me, who retired previously, was not affected by this governor’s decision to withhold the pay raise increases. They received their guaranteed 3% retirement pay raises during 2002 -2015 and are still receiving their yearly 3% raise adding to their already substantial raise accumulation. I have not been able to keep a raise since 2008. My last eight years of employment, I did not receive any pay raises for which I should be compensated. OPERS is suggesting to restore some retirees pay to give them borrowing power, what about the employees that were affected between 2008-2015? Are we just the targeted few that were chosen to be poor? I’ve also taken the State Highway Patrol Exam for 911 Dispatcher and passed However, the State has to employ the State Workers first. I’m returning to college spending money I should not have to spend and can’t afford to spend, hoping to open a business or find work. I’m trying to stay above the poverty line. I paid into to this government system for 30 years and never wanted to be on assistance, however the state of Ohio is continuing to push in that direction. Would have been nice to have received the retirement I worked for. I might have to withdraw from healthcare to survive. I find this totally ludicrous for a hardworking, dedicated fulltime State of OH employee.

  • I am very upset that the cost of living increase I am to receive in 2020 will likely be 1/2 of what another retiree who retired a couple of years before me will receive. It’s high time OPERS started treating all retirees the same. The benefits I receive are nothing like what was promised when I started working.

  • What needs to be done to remove the windfall tax that is placed on public employees who have paid into SS?

    That is money I paid out of my check!
    To me it constitutes legal thievery.

  • What would happen if I take a partial lump sum out to pay my house off ? Would it make my social security different?

    • Cheryl,

      We encourage you to check with Social Security, but it’s our understanding that you can’t reduce the Windfall Elimination Provision by taking a partial-lump sum option payment.

      –Ohio PERS

  • With the change from the One Exchange to Via Benefits, I noticed that Via Benefits only lists the current yearly amount assigned to the HRA, no where is the total amount of accumulated unused amount from previous years listed. I very seldom use the amount allocated every month, which has continued to accumulate. I plan to have some dental work performed which may exceed the balance left in the HRS account for this year, so it would be good to be able to know my total balance. Thank you.

  • Just a quick follow-up to my email I just sent regarding Via Benefits and not seeing the total HRA balance. Just received an Explanation of Benefits in today’s mail which does have the total Available Balance of the HRA. You may post both emails if you believe it may inform others that may find themselves with similar questions or concerns.
    Don Huntsberger

  • I have received information from PERI public employees retirement inc. And they said they are part of OPERS and want money for annual membership. What is this ??

    • PERI is an advocacy group. They are not associated with OPERS and do not manage your pension benefits or health care coverage.

      Julie, OPERS

  • I want to know if I can get a cash advance or loan on my OPERS benefit. I don’t receive much in my check and have had a lot of unexpected expenses the last couple of months and would like to pay down some of those.

    • I’m sorry, Kathleen, you can’t access your OPERS benefit until you retire or leave public service.

      Julie, OPERS

  • Correct me if I’m wrong: The proposal for Pre-Medicare healthcare insurance is moving to an allowance system. If I am understanding this, in 2022, OPERS would begin giving an allowance of $1200 monthly to Pre–Medicare retirees and then it would be up to the individual to obtain their on healthcare insurance.

    Can I assume this $1200 would simply be added to the monthly benefit I receive?
    Would it be more prudent of OPERS to establish HSA accounts for retirees from which to pay the premium thereby guaranteeing the money would be used for healthcare?
    Would there be parameters to be met on the individually obtained healthcare insurance?
    Would proof of meeting those parameters be required and submitted to OPERS?
    Would this allow me to increase my yearly deductible to 10k?

    • Mr. Cline,

      The details and amounts haven’t been finalized, but under the current proposal, $1,200 is the base allowance. Your allowance is a percentage of the $1,200 based on your age and years of service, up to 90 percent. Each month, the allowance is deposited into your Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or HRA, that you can use for reimbursement of qualified medical expenses such as your health insurance premiums. We’ll contract with a vendor to assist you in choosing your health care coverage.

      You can see how the HRA works for OPERS Medicare-eligible retirees at https://www.opers.org/healthcare/plan-options/hra.shtml. Continue to read the blog, your newsletter and Board Report for regular updates.

      Julie, OPERS

  • If I retire wit reduced benefits, example: I will be 60 with 22.5 years of service. Will I have access to healthcare?

    • OPERS offers access to health care to members who have 20 years of qualifying service, are a minimum age 60 and who retired from the Traditional or Combined Plan. We make no distinction whether you receive a reduced or unreduced pension. You can find more information at https://www.opers.org/healthcare/.

      Julie, OPERS

  • If I retire in September of 2021 at age 57 with 31 years and go on my husband’s medical insurance, will I be able to receive an allowance for not enrolling in the medical?

    • Linda,

      Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, you will have access to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) allowance that you can use to reimburse your eligible medical expenses, including health care premiums through your spouse’s insurance. Your allowance amount is based on your years of service and your age when you first enroll in OPERS health care.

      Julie, OPERS

    • Ana,

      Yes, as a lump-sum distribution, the Partial Lump Sum Payment is fully taxable, unless it is rolled over to a qualified plan or IRA. OPERS is required to withhold 20% for federal taxes; however, you may elect to withhold an additional amount. Also, be aware your payment will be released 90 days after your first benefit check. For more information, go to https://www.opers.org/forms-archive/Special-Tax-Notice.pdf.

      Julie, OPERS

  • Thank you, Julie.

    Also, what is the process of taking Required Minimum Distributions from my OPERS account?

    (I am aware that RMDs are suspended for 2020, but I need to know what the process is. Do I need to fill out a form?)

    • Fred,
      Box 5 represents the amount of your retirement monies on which you have already paid taxes or which are excluded from taxes. It is the difference between Box 1 (Gross distribution) and Box 2a (Taxable amount).
      Thanks MS

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