DC, hybrid plans changing for future members

As of 2022, OPERS will offer two retirement options for new participants

By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Oct. 10, 2019 – OPERS offers three pension plans, but that will be changing for future members.

The OPERS Board of Trustees approved a plan at its September meeting that will modify the Member-Directed (defined contribution) and Combined (hybrid) pension plans for those hired in 2022 and beyond. The goal is to align future benefits in the Member-Directed Plan with those of the Traditional Pension Plan, to which a large majority of OPERS members belong.

As a result, OPERS will merge the Combined plan into the Traditional Pension Plan and close off the Combined Plan for those who are hired after 2022. It will not affect the plan design for those who are enrolled in it as of that date. Merging the Combined Plan was recommended in concert with a proposal to create a retirement group for new Traditional Plan members as of 2022.

The proposal also would change the Member-Directed Plan’s vesting schedule, mitigating rate, annuitization, Retiree Medical Account and cost-of-living adjustments. It will not affect the plan design for those who are enrolled in it as of Jan. 1, 2022.

Members hired after Jan. 1, 2022, will have a choice of two plans – Traditional and Member-Directed. About 94 percent of active and inactive OPERS members are enrolled in the Traditional plan.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the changes to the Member-Directed Plan for future members:

OptionCurrent MD planFuture MD plan
Vesting schedule100% at 5 years100% at 10 years
Mitigating rate2.44%*4-10%
Eligibility to annuitizeAge 55Age 62
COLA on lifetime annuityYesNo
Retiree Medical Account4%2%
Plan changesOne during careerOne within first 5 years
*Increasing to 3.5% in 2020

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

  • Here is what I think – when these employees eventually retire – they won’t have anything to retire on. Their funds will have been mismanaged and reduced and those that are in control of the funds will find something to blame it on other than themselves. Very sad.

  • PLEASE TELL ME IN PLAIN ENGLISH WHAT MY CHANGES WILL BE , I’m 68YRS. OLD AND RETIRED AFTER 30 YRS IN 2007 !!!!!!

    • Kenneth,

      These changes do not apply to current retirees, only to those hired in 2022 and beyond who select the Member-Directed Plan.

      –Ohio PERS

    • Kerry,

      The mitigating rate is paid only by members in the Member Directed and Combined Plans. The purpose of the mitigating rate is to reduce the financial impact of the loss of members participating in the Traditional Pension Plan.

      Julie, OPERS

  • The mitigating rate should have been raised years ago. Then, maybe folks would have chosen the defined pension plan instead of the other plans, and maybe we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in today.
    CherylH

  • Will the ‘Mitigating rate *Increasing to 3.5% in 2020’ affect members currently enrolled in the member directed plan or will that increase only affect members enrolling in 2020 and beyond?

  • In plain English … what are you saying in the Health Care “Discussion” portion of the most recent OPERS Board Report. Federal Programs? Low income subsidies? 75% should be eligible for Federal Assistance? Marketplace plans? It sounds like you are saying sign up for Obamacare and good luck with these extremely high deductible catestrophic incident only insurance! What happened to the 4% of my income my employer paid into OPERS health care fund IN MY NAME for 31 years?

    • Mr. Huber,

      Under the proposed changes for pre-Medicare retirees, we’re replacing group coverage with an allowance that retirees can use on the open health care market. At this point, the Board likely won’t make any decisions regarding health care changes until January with the changes going into effect in 2022.

      On low income subsidies: This month’s Board discussion included whether to include a subsidy for low income pre-Medicare retirees. Our research shows that federal subsidy programs provide greater financial support than OPERS could offer. You can find the presentation on the Board meeting page at http://www.opers.org/about/board/meetings/index.shtml. Scroll to October 16 and click Agenda to see the presentations given during the meeting. Information on the low income subsidy discussion begins on p. 11.

      Finally, I want to stress that your employer contributed 14% of your salary toward your pension, not health care. Our priority is to fund pensions first and then, if there are funds available, set aside money for health care. Only employer contributions can be allocated to the health care trust fund. We will provide access to health care as long as possible but it is not a guaranteed benefit.

      Julie, OPERS

  • When I signed up in 2005, there was no mention in any of the materials provided to me about any sort of “mitigating rate” applicable to the Member-Directed Plan. If there had been, I likely would have avoided this Plan — I find it odious that shortfalls in the Traditional Plan are funded on my back. I am penalized to the point where I am paying for others’ benefits out of my benefits. My question is this: can you point me to where, when I signed up, I was put on reasonable notice that my benefits would be reduced so others’ benefits could be maintained?

    • The Ohio General Assembly established a mitigating rate to offset any negative financial impact to the defined benefit (Traditional) plan because of participation in the Member Directed and Combined plans. Ohio law requires the Board to set this rate every year.

      Julie

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