How do I calculate my retirement benefit?
- To calculate: Plan formula x age factor x service credit x final (monthly) average salary = gross monthly benefit amount.
OCERS has an online benefit calculator on the public website as well as in the myOCERS online member self service portal. The myOCERS member portal uses the member’s actual account information to provide accurate estimates that can be run anytime.
When a member submits a retirement application, OCERS provides a comprehensive benefit estimate reflecting the monthly benefit with the retirement date the member elected.
How do I start the retirement process?
Most members start with a phone call to the retirement specialist that handles their agency. The OCERS website has a list of agencies and the associated retirement specialist assigned to assist them in the retirement process. Comprehensive retirement counseling is conducted over the phone and continues with an appointment where we provide final average salary (FAS) information. Members are encouraged to submit their retirement application online. During the retirement appointment, members provide original birth and marriage certificates. The retirement application, tax withholding and direct deposit forms are reviewed. The benefit options are explained thoroughly to ensure a complete understanding. (Medical insurance is not handled through our office so they will need to be directed to the appropriate office.)
How does my OCERS benefit affect my Social Security benefit?
As government employees, OCERS members are in a unique situation with respect to Social Security Benefits. Your OCERS retirement benefit may affect your Social Security benefit due to two federal laws: the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.
Government Pension Offset
Government Pension Offset is a law that affects Social Security benefits paid to a spouse or widow/widower of an OCERS member. The law applies only if you receive a government pension (such as from OCERS) and are eligible for Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow(er).
For detailed information and to see the Social Security Administration’s fact sheet on “Government Pension Offset“.
Windfall Elimination Provision
Windfall Elimination Provision is a law that affects those who work for an employer who doesn’t withhold Social Security taxes, such as for a government agency or an employer in another country. If you are an OCERS member and are entitled to a Social Security benefit based on your own work and earnings, the Windfall Elimination Provision may reduce your Social Security benefits. This law determines how your Social Security retirement or disability benefits are computed if you receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security.
For detailed information and to see the Social Security Administration’s fact sheet on “Windfall Elimination Provision“.
How much money will I receive when I retire?
Your retirement allowance will be based upon four factors: plan type, retirement age, years of service credit, and final compensation. Final Compensation is an average of your highest monthly compensation during any one or three years, depending on your plan.
You can calculate your retirement benefit by using the Benefits Calculator on our website or log onto your myOCERS account and calculate your benefit based on your actual plan, service and salary data.
NOTE: If you plan to retire within the next six months, contact OCERS to request an official Benefit Estimate.
I am approaching retirement age. When should I contact OCERS to begin the process?
We suggest you attend the Pre-Retirement Sessions at least three years prior to your retirement and also submit your birth and marriage certificates at our office.
When you are nearing retirement, make sure you have already enrolled in the myOCERS Portal via OCERS’ Web site. You will then have the ability to access the “Online Retirement Application” area of the myOCERS Portal. You will be able to complete the Application for Service Retirement, Retirees Authorization for Electronic Deposit of Retirement Checks and Tax Withholding Election form paperwork. Once received, an OCERS retirement specialist will contact you to set up a one-on-one meeting if necessary.
For more detailed information, click here to view the Retirement Checklist.
What are the retirement payment options?
The OCERS Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) list all the options our members have when they retire; we direct them to our website to review each one carefully. During retirement counseling, this is a routine item staff discusses since the payment election is irrevocable after receipt of their first benefit payment.
OCERS has 5 payment options:
- The unmodified option provides them with a maximum retirement allowance available and provides for a continuation of 60% of the allowance to an eligible spouse, qualified domestic partner or eligible child upon the members death.
- Option 1 pays a reduced monthly allowance until the member’s death and at that time the designated beneficiary receives a refund of any remaining member contributions and interest.
- Option 2 pays an actuarially reduced monthly allowance to the member until death, and their designated beneficiary receives the same monthly allowance (100%) for the remainder of their lifetime – members cannot change the
- designated beneficiary.
- Option 3 pays an actuarially reduced monthly allowance until the member’s
- death and then the designated beneficiary receives half, or 50% of the member’s allowance for the remainder of their lifetime – members cannot change the designated beneficiary.
- Option 4 allows for multiple designated beneficiaries and may select other survivor payment percentages if approved by the Retirement Board. OCERS’ actuary calculates each Option 4 benefit – designated beneficiaries cannot be changed once the member receives their first benefit payment.
Will my monthly retirement allowance run out when I’ve received the total amount I contributed to my OCERS retirement plan?
No, your OCERS plan is a defined benefit plan. “Defined Benefit” means that your benefit is a guaranteed monthly allowance paid for the rest of your life. Your benefit is based on your final average salary, retirement age, and years of service, not your retirement contributions.
How long do I have to be married before my spouse becomes eligible for survivor benefits?
Under the Unmodified Payment Option, your spouse or registered domestic partner will be eligible for survivor benefits if you have been married/registered at least one year prior to your date of retirement.
If you are married/registered less than 1 year prior to your date of retirement or are married/registered anytime after retirement, your spouse or registered domestic partner must be married/registered at least 2 years prior to your death and be at least 55 years old.
If you are choosing/have chosen a payment option other than Unmodified, you may contact our office for additional information.