OPERS covers many seasonal jobs

Parents: Here’s how to help your child select a retirement plan

By Bobbie O’Neil, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

June 23, 2017 — New employment in the public sector for young people can be very exciting but also very overwhelming. One of the issues many of them will have to address, even for summer jobs, is membership in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Is your child new to public employment? If so, consider helping your son or daughter with their plan selection. As a result of this new employment, your child likely has received, or will be receiving very soon, a letter from OPERS telling them to select a retirement plan. As a parent you may want to provide your child with help throughout this process.

One of the most common questions we get from new public employees and their parents is “What is OPERS”?  OPERS is the largest state pension fund in Ohio, and the 12th-largest public retirement system in the United States. Public employees in the state of Ohio pay into OPERS instead of Social Security.

OPERS serves more than 1 million members that include, state, city, county and municipal employees. If your child took a seasonal position as a lifeguard at a public pool or a grounds-keeping position at a state park, regardless of their age, employment duration, or hours worked, they will pay into OPERS.

There are two classifications of workers who can exempt themselves from OPERS membership: elected officials in certain circumstances and students working for the public school, college, or university they are attending. These employees may be exempt from contributing to OPERS by filing a request for exemption within the first month of employment.

There are a few things your child should have received from OPERS:

  • A plan selection brochure
  • A retirement plan selection form
  • An enrollment form

The brochure and plan selection form describe the three plans that new employees can choose: Traditional Pension Plan, Member-Directed Plan, and Combined Plan. All three plans are great, but one may be better for your child based upon his or her individual needs and career circumstances. The enrollment form is completed only if a newly hired individual is receiving a retirement benefit or disability benefit from one of the other public pension systems in Ohio.

Like I said before, this selection can be exciting but also very overwhelming. If, after reviewing the materials, you have questions about your child’s decision there is a section of the OPERS website dedicated to helping members select a plan.

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