All non-teaching employees of Ohio’s boards of education; school districts; vocational, technical, and community schools; and community colleges, are required to contribute to SERS unless their position permits exemption from membership, or optional membership, or is excluded from membership.

Once covered under SERS, the employee must continue to contribute to SERS for as long as the employee is employed in a SERS-covered position.

Exemption from Membership

Certain employees may choose exemption from SERS membership. In these specific situations, the employee has the choice to be exempted from membership or to contribute to SERS.

An employee who has the option of choosing exemption includes:

  • A student who is not already a SERS member at the time of employment, and who is employed by the school or college in which the student is enrolled and regularly attending classes
  • An emergency employee serving on a temporary basis in the event of a flood, fire, snow removal, earthquake, or other similar emergency
  • An individual employed in a program established under the federal Workforce Investment Act or any other federal job training program

Employees who cannot claim exemption include:

  • Substitute employees; they are not classified as “emergency employees”
  • Retirees

Exemption from Membership Form

To be exempt from membership, the employee must complete a Request for Exemption from Membership Form within the first month of employment and file it with the employer.

As the employer, it is important that you retain this form. If an individual contacts SERS to establish service credit for this service, you are required to provide a copy of this form to SERS; otherwise, you could be required to submit the contributions for the time in question. Once this form is signed, the exemption is irrevocable.

If the employee does not complete the form within the first month of employment, contributions to SERS are required beginning with the employee’s first date of service.

Optional Membership

A school board member or a governing board member has the option of contributing to SERS.

A school board member is an elected or appointed member of a city, local exempted village, or a joint vocational school district board of education. A governing board member is an elected or appointed member of an educational service center governing board.

A board member choosing SERS membership must complete the New School or Governing Board Member Election for Membership to SERS Form within 30 days of taking office. Once the form is submitted, it is irrevocable for as long as the board member continuously holds office. Additionally, you must submit a Member Enrollment to SERS for that board member.

A board member’s choice to join SERS may limit the ability to make tax-deferred contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). The board member should consult a professional tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information.

A board member who does not choose membership in SERS must contribute to Social Security. The board member also will not be able to purchase service credit for this service, unless the service was prior to July 1, 1991.

By law, governing authorities of community schools cannot belong to SERS.

Exclusion from Membership

Some individuals are excluded from SERS membership. They include:

  • An individual who has a license issued pursuant to Ohio law and who is employed in an educational position, as determined by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), through programs under federal law, and financed in whole or in part by federal funds but for which no licensure requirements for the position can bemade under the provisions of such federal law
  • An individual who participates in an Alternative Retirement Plan (ARP) established by a college
  • Employees of community school operators who withhold Social Security taxes beginning with their first paycheck: whose initial employment with the community school operator is onor after July, 1, 2016, or; who previously worked for a community school operator and returned to work for that same operator on or after July 1, 2016, and where the period between employment was not less than 12 months before or after the date the employer began withholding Social Security taxes for their wages