Members Retirees Employers
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As an employer, you should be generally familiar with a SERS employee’s options relating to retirement and other payments available from SERS. You also may be required to provide information to SERS when an employee elects to take a payment from SERS.
 

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Employees should always contact SERS for the most up-to-date information concerning their account or benefit options. If they have further questions, direct them to call Member Services toll-free at 866-280-7377.

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At death after retirement or receipt of a disability benefit, the retiree or disability benefit recipient’s beneficiary is entitled to a one-time lump sum payment of $1,000.

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Payment will be made only upon receipt of a death certificate and evidence of qualification, as required by SERS.

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If an employee dies while employed, the qualified survivors may apply for benefits. A survivor of a deceased employee may purchase service credit to which the employee was entitled before death. Eligible beneficiaries should contact SERS for more information.

If an employee wishes to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries, the employee must do so on a Member Beneficiary Designation Form (6.33). If this form is not completed and returned to SERS, the automatic succession of beneficiaries applies, which is: 

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  1. Person designated by the member and who survives the member
  2. Surviving spouse
  3. Surviving children
  4. Dependent parent who is age 65 or older
  5. Surviving parents
  6. Member’s estate

An employer should call the SERS Member Services Department toll-free at 866-280-7377 to
report any employee’s death while employed. This starts the process of contacting beneficiaries
and processing any benefits.

Eligibility

If an employee dies while working, before the employee begins receiving a monthly service
retirement benefit, or while receiving a disability benefit, the employee’s qualified survivors are
entitled to certain benefits.

Monthly benefit payments are available if the employee:

  1. Had at least one and one-half (1½) years of contributing service credit; and
  2. Had at least one-quarter (¼) year of Ohio service credit earned within two and one-half (2½) years prior to death; and
  3. Was not receiving a service retirement benefit.

For more detailed information on survivor benefits and eligibility, please call SERS toll-free number at 866-280-7377.

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SERS offers two types of service retirement: unreduced/full service retirement and reduced/early service retirement. For full service retirement, employees earn the maximum pension amount based on their service credit and final average salary, which is the average of the three highest years of salary. Early retirement benefits are reduced to cover the cost of providing a pension over a longer period of time.

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Pension reform law enacted in 2013 increased the age and service credit to be eligible for
retirement.

Grandfather Provision: Longtime members, those who reach 25 years of service on or before Aug. 1, 2017, are eligible to retire under the previous age and service credit eligibility requirements.

SERVICE RETIREMENT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

 

Current Eligibility

Eligibility Changes

 

Applies to:

  • Members Who Retire Before Aug. 1, 2017
  • Members with 25 Years or More of Service On or Before Aug. 1, 2017 (Grandfathered)

Applies to:

  • Members with Less than 25 Years of Service on Aug. 1, 2017

Retire with Full Benefits

Age 65 with 5 years, or
Any age with 30 years

Age 67 with 10 years, or
Age 57 with 30 years

Retire Early with Reduced Benefits

Age 60 with 5 years, or
Age 55 with 25 years

Age 62 with 10 years, or
Age 60 with 25 years

Employees who will have fewer than 25 years of service credit as of Aug. 1, 2017, have the opportunity to retire under previous retirement eligibility requirements if they pay the actuarial difference between the benefit they would have received under the new requirements and the benefit they may receive under the previous requirements. To take advantage of this buy-up option, employees must complete their payment in one lump sum on or before Aug. 1, 2017.

An employee who wishes to retire must complete and return a Service Retirement Application. As the employer, you will not need to provide any information for this application. SERS will notifiy you through eSERS that a wage certifications needs completed. 

This information should be completed only when the final information required is known.

Do not provide estimates of salary, contributions, or days worked; these will not be accepted. SERS must have the final exact information in order to calculate and pay a benefit.

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A retiree may be reemployed after retirement. A job in the private sector does not affect the retiree’s benefit.

However, if the job is in a position covered by SERS, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio, the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, or the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System, SERS must be notified.

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If the retiree returns to work in a job covered by any of these systems before the retiree has received a SERS benefit for two months, the retiree forfeits the payment for each month he or she worked during that  two-month period. The only exception is if the retiree holds multiple positions prior to retirement. He or she may continue working in the lesser-paying position(s) without forfeiting two-months of pension payments.

If the retiree returns to a SERS-covered position, then employee and employer contributions are
required for the new position. The retiree accrues a new benefit in the form of an annuity based on the contributions paid by the retiree and the employer. This is separate from the original
SERS payment. The retiree does not accrue any additional service credit for the period of
reemployment.

A reemployed retiree who has terminated employment may complete an Application for Payment from a Reemployed Retiree’s Account (5.61) to select a payment resulting from the retiree’s reemployed period.

SERS will notifiy you through eSERS that a wage certifications needs completed. 

This information should be completed only when the final information required is known.

Do not provide estimates of salary, contributions, or days worked; these will not be accepted. SERS must have the final exact information in order to calculate and pay a benefit.

For more information, please refer to the Employment of Retirees page.

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An employee who is granted disability benefits prior to Jan. 7, 2013, is treated as if on leave of absence from the employer for the first five years of disability benefits. An employee who is granted disability benefits on or after Jan. 7, 2013, is treated as if on leave of absence from the employer for the first three years of disability benefits, or for the first five years of disability benefits if he or she is receiving medical treatment or vocational rehabilitation services recommended by SERS.

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If the employee’s benefits are terminated within this period because a subsequent SERS medical re-examination finds that the employee is no longer disabled, SERS will notify you. By state law, the employer must restore the employee to his or her former position and salary, or a comparable position and salary, no later than the first of the month following termination of the disability benefit.

An employer cannot employ a SERS disability benefit recipient. Such employment automatically terminates the disability benefit. An employer is responsible for paying SERS for any disability payments SERS made before the school notified SERS of employment.

An employee is entitled to a benefit under one of two disability plans. An employee who became a member after July 29, 1992, is covered under the new disability plan. An employee who became a member on or before July 29, 1992, is covered by the old disability plan unless the employee exercised a one-time election to change to the new plan.

Eligibility

Under both plans, an employee is eligible for disability benefits if the employee:

  • Has at least five years of total service credit
  • Files an application no later than two years from the date that contributing service stopped
  • Is permanently disabled, either physically or mentally, for work in a SERS-covered position as determined by a physician appointed by SERS
  • Becomes disabled after becoming a SERS employee
  • Does not receive a refund of contributions
  • Does not receive a service retirement benefit

Under the old disability plan, an employee also must apply for disability benefits before turning 60 years old. Under the new disability plan, an employee may apply for disability benefits at any age.

Termination of Benefits

A disability benefit under either plan stops if one of the following occurs:

  • The employee returns to a SERS-covered job
  • A subsequent SERS medical re-examination finds that the employee is no longer disabled
  • The employee dies
  • The employee requests that benefits end
  • Under the new disability plan, benefits also will end after a specified number of months as shown:
Age at Effective Date

Period Benefits Payable

Younger than 60 Until age 65
60 or 61 60 months
62 or 63 48 months
64 or 65 36 months
66, 67 or 68 24 months
69 or older 12 months

At end of the period, the employee can apply for a service retirement.

An employee seeking disability benefits must complete a Disability Benefit Application.

Upon receipt of the application, SERS sends a Job Duty Form for you to complete. It requests information on the employee’s work duties and must be returned with a detailed job description. Upon approval, SERS will notifiy you through eSERS that a wage certifications needs completed. 

This information should be completed only when the final information required is known.

Do not provide estimates of salary, contributions, or days worked; these will not be accepted. SERS must have the final exact information in order to calculate and pay a benefit.

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An employee who terminates employment is entitled to a voluntary return of only the contributions the employee contributed and any amounts paid for the purchase of additional service credit.

If your employee also is a member of State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and/or Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), he or she has the option to refund the SERS account without affecting his or her membership or rights to either a benefit or refund of contributions under those systems. However, due to IRS regulations, the employee cannot refund his or her SERS account if employment is continued under either of those systems with the same public employer with whom that employee’s last SERS service was earned.

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If the employee does not take a refund of the SERS accounts, he or she may combine the service credit and contributions in all the systems for a single retirement allowance.

The employee must complete an application for the refund of the accumulated contributions. No refund is issued before three months after the termination of employment. If the contributions were made on a pre-tax basis under a pick up plan, the contributions are subject to taxes on payment unless the employee rolls over the contributions as permitted under federal tax law.

The employee receives information on these options at the time he or she applies for a refund.

SERS cannot pay partial refunds of, or provide loans on, an employee’s accumulated contributions. No interest is paid on a refund and a member receives no part of the employer’s
contributions.

Once a refund is paid, an employee loses any right to a retirement or disability benefit, and dependents lose any right to survivor benefits.

An employee who wishes to withdraw accumulated contributions must complete and return an Application for Refund of a Member’s Account (30.09).

As the employer, you must complete Section E, Employer Certification, of this application.

However, Section E should not be completed until the final salary and contributions, and the last
date of employment is known.

You are held liable for any overpayment on a refund if you have incorrectly certified the application.

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