Members Retirees Employers
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Additional service credit may be available to you for purchase.

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Additional service credit may be available to you for purchase.

If you qualify to purchase other types of service credit, SERS will send you a statement for the cost of the credit. You can purchase all or a part of the service credit by making payments directly to SERS in one or more installments, or tax-deferred payroll deduction if your employer offers this type of payment plan. Under a payroll deduction plan, only one payment a month is deducted from your salary. Due to federal tax law, once you select this method of payment you cannot change it until the purchase for all the credit is completed.

You also can purchase allowable service credit with funds rolled over from another qualified plan, such as another employer retirement program [Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 401(a)], an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), an IRC 403(a) annuity, an IRC 403(b) plan, or a governmental Deferred Compensation Program under IRC 457.

All service credit must be purchased before you retire.

Legislation passed in 2012 changed the service credit eligibility requirements for service retirement for members with less than 25 years of service credit effective August 1, 2017. It also provided a provision that allows members who will not have 25 years of service credit as of August 1, 2017, to buy up into the old eligibility requirements; the member pays the full cost of the additional actuarial liability.

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If you had previous SERS service credit and received a refund of your contributions for this previous service after you left employment, you may restore this service credit.

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In order to purchase this credit, you must have returned to employment covered by SERS, STRS, OPERS, the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F) or the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System (HPRS) for at least 18 months. The cost of the purchase is the amount of your contributions for the contributing service, and interest from the month of the original refund to the date of payment.

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You may purchase credit for service in a position for which you were exempt from SERS' membership, SERS' membership was optional, or SERS' membership was compulsory.

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EXEMPT

For any service after July 1, 1991, you may purchase credit for service in a position for which SERS’ membership was compulsory, but for which you were permitted to, and did, sign an exemption from membership form. The cost for each year of service credit is 20% of your current year’s compensation.

Under certain circumstances, you may purchase STRS or OPERS exempt service credit with SERS. The cost for each year is 20% of your current year’s SERS compensation.

You cannot purchase this credit if your compensation for such service was subject to taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).

OPTIONAL

For any service before July 1, 1991, you may purchase credit for service in a position for which SERS’ membership was optional, and you did not choose to become a member. Your cost for each year of service credit is an amount equal to your employee contributions in effect at the time plus interest and the employer contributions in effect at the time plus interest.

COMPULSORY

If you were employed by a school for a period before July 1, 1991, and membership was required, but contributions were not paid, your employer for that service is required to pay the employer contributions in effect at the time plus interest, and you must pay the employee contributions in effect at the time plus interest.

If you were employed by a school for a period on or after July 1, 1991, and membership was compulsory, but contributions were not paid, your employer for that service is responsible to pay both the employee and employer contributions in effect at the time plus interest.

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You may purchase credit for service in other government or school positions.

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You may purchase credit for service with:

  • A public or private school, college, or university in another state, or operated by the federal government, which has been chartered or accredited by the proper government agency
  • The federal government, or non-Ohio government employers, if the service in a comparable position in Ohio would have been covered by SERS, STRS, OPERS, OP&F or HPRS
  • An Ohio municipal retirement system except the Cincinnati Retirement System

The maximum amount of service credit that may be purchased is the lesser of five years, or the total years of your Ohio service credit. If you combine your SERS service credit with any STRS and/or OPERS service credit you have at retirement, the total amount of service credit is limited to five years among all the systems. The service credit is not available if it is or will be used in another retirement benefit except for Social Security. For each year of credit, you must pay contributions based on the first year of full-time SERS-covered employment following termination of the service to be purchased, plus interest from the date of SERS membership to the date of payment.

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If you were required to resign because of pregnancy or adoption of a child, you may purchase service credit for this time.

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You must have returned to work by the beginning of the third school year after the resignation and earned a year of contributing service credit after the return to work. You cannot purchase more than a total of two years service credit. For each year of credit, you must pay contributions based on the first year of full-time SERS-covered employment after returning to work plus interest from the date of the return to work to the date of payment. Your employer at the time of the resignation also must pay the employer contributions and interest.

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There are several ways to obtain military service credit depending on when you entered the service and returned to public employment.

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INTERRUPTED

If you are not eligible to receive free credit for military service that interrupted your school employment described above, you can purchase up to five years of military service credit.

You must have:

  • Worked for a SERS-covered employer and been a SERS member
  • Entered the military while still employed
  • Returned to work with the same employer within three months of your honorable discharge or release from military service
  • Maintained SERS membership

Your cost is only the employee contributions in effect at the time if you had remained on the school’s payroll. Interest is added to the amount of employee contributions if you do not pay the contributions due within a certain period of time. Your employer would pay the employer contributions.

OTHER MILITARY SERVICE

If you are not eligible to receive military service credit either free or for purchase as described above, you can still purchase your military service.

You can purchase up to five years of active duty in the armed forces, and up to an additional five years for time spent as a prisoner of war. If you combine your SERS service credit with any STRS and/or OPERS service credit you have at retirement, the total amount of service credit is limited to five years among all the systems. The cost to you for each year of service credit is an amount equal to the employee contributions in effect at the time the military service began applied to your compensation for the first year of full-time employment covered by SERS, STRS, or OPERS following the end of the military service, plus interest from the date of reemployment to the date of payment. You must send SERS a copy of your discharge (DD Form 214) or separation notice. This service cannot be purchased if it is or will be used in any other retirement program except Social Security or retired pay for non-regular service under 10 U.S.C. 12731-12739, or if you contributed to SERS during the same period of time.

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If you were a school board member or governing board member before July 1, 1991, you may be eligible to purchase .250 of a year for each year of board service.

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You must pay the actual liability for this service credit. It can be purchased no sooner than 90 days before retirement. If this service was at the same time of other SERS service credit, it cannot be purchased. A school board member is a member of a city, local, exempted village, or joint vocational school district board of education, and a governing board member is a member of an educational service center governing board.

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If you were on an employer-approved unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA) from your school employer, you may purchase the LOA credit for this time by paying both the employee and employer contributions, plus interest. A LOA period begins on the first day of the approved leave for which contributions were not made, and ends when the approved leave ends or when the member returns to contributing service, whichever happens first.

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Service credit may be purchased for multiple leaves of absence. The total years purchased cannot exceed five years, and the maximum amount of service that may be purchased for a period of leave is two years.

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Your employer may establish an Early Retirement Incentive program (ERI), which allows eligible employees to retire early or increase their service credit for retirement.

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Eligible employees are those 57 years or older. Under an ERI, an employer may purchase up to five years of service credit for eligible employees. If an employer has an ERI, the employer notifies all eligible employees of the plan and its requirements.

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