OPERS updates rules for poll workers
Earnings limitation increased during years with additional primaries
By Michael Pramik, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System
Nov. 3, 2022 – With next week’s midterm election, it’s a good time to review the impact that working at the polls might have on OPERS members’ retirement benefits and access to health care.
Individuals employed as election workers and paid less than $600 per calendar year for that service are not considered public employees, so retirees can earn up to that limit without any effect on their benefits and health care. This year Ohio law was amended to increase the annual earnings exclusion for election workers.
An exception now exists for election workers to earn up to $1,000 during a year in which there is more than one primary election and one general election, such as 2022, when primaries were held in May and August.
Election workers earning more than the exclusion amount must contribute to the retirement system. An election worker, for the purposes of participation in OPERS, 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 ($1,000 during 2022), you are considered a public employee from that point forward during the calendar year.
If an OPERS retiree works as an election worker and exceeds the threshold, the retiree may experience a change in eligibility for the OPERS health care program.
Retirees should carefully evaluate the financial and health care issues surrounding re-employment in an OPERS-covered position. We have a comprehensive section of our website that explains how re-employment works.
For questions about the specifics of your personal situation, contact us through your online account or at 1-800-222-7377.
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.