MEMBERS

​The Judge Member’s Handbook includes information on all aspects of PERS benefits for judges, including contribution rates, benefit calculations, and participation in the Variable Annuity Program. You can also contact the PERS judge member coordinator with questions at 503-603-7507 or PERS.Judge.COUNSELOR@pers.state.or.us.

I see multiple accounts listed on my annual statement. As a judge member, am I also eligible for other pension benefits at retirement?

If you were a Tier One or Tier Two member before becoming a judge member, you retain any contributions made to your Tier One or Tier Two member account before becoming a judge member. Contributions after you become a judge member are placed in your judge member account. At retirement, you will receive benefits under each program.

You will only have an Individual Account Program (IAP) if you were a PERS member after 2004 before becoming a judge.

Which retirement calculation method will be used?

Your judge account is always calculated using the formulas provided by statute to compute your benefit, with a maximum benefit cap of 65 percent of final average salary under Plan A or 75 percent of final average salary under Plan B. See the Judge Member’s Handbook for a full summary.

If you have a Tier One, Tier Two, or OPSRP account, your retirement benefit for those programs will be calculated under the relevant methods. PERS pays you based on the retirement calculation method that provides the highest benefit. Please see the Tier One/Tier Two and OPSRP FAQs for more information.

What does “vested status” mean? How do I become vested in the Judge Member Program?

Once you are vested in the Judge Member Program, you retain your judge member account even if you terminate employment as a judge member. You will be entitled to death benefits, a disability retirement allowance, or service retirement benefits if you meet statutory criteria.

Generally, you are vested when you (1) have made contributions to the Judge Member Fund in each of five calendar years before reaching age 75 and (2) have not withdrawn your judge account.

Vesting in the OPSRP Pension Program will follow the rules of that program.

How can I get a retirement benefit estimate?

You can produce an estimate online through your Online Member Services (OMS) account. The online benefit estimator will use the most recent data supplied by your employer(s) to produce an estimate for any future retirement date. You can produce multiple benefit estimates with different retirement dates. This could help you determine if you are on track to meet your retirement goals.

OMS will allow you to create benefit estimates for your Tier One, Tier Two, OPSRP, and judge member accounts.

When you are within 24 months of your retirement date, you can request a written estimate by submitting a Judge Member Benefit Estimate Request form to PERS. Your written estimate may provide information on possible purchases of service time you may want to make at retirement, which could increase your benefit or provide extra service time to allow you to retire sooner. We encourage you to get at least one written estimate from PERS before your retirement date.

How do I update my beneficiary?

You can update your beneficiary at any time by submitting new beneficiary forms to PERS. Any new designation form you submit will supersede your previous designation. To update your judge member beneficiary, please submit the Pre-Retirement Designation of Beneficiary form to PERS. If you retain membership in other programs (such as Tier One/Tier Two, IAP), you will need to submit separate beneficiary forms for each account. The forms are available under the Tier One/Tier Two and IAP forms pages of the PERS website.

Can I transfer out of the variable account before retirement?

If you have a judge variable account, you can request a one-time transfer to move all funds out of the variable account into the regular account before retirement by filling out the “one-time transfer” section of the PERS: Judge Member Variable Annuity Program Participation form and submitting it to PERS. You must meet age and eligibility requirements which are shown in the Judge Member’s Handbook.

PERS must receive your election form by December 31 of the year the request is made. The transfer becomes effective January 1 following the year in which PERS receives your request, regardless of when the form is received. The election to transfer your variable account is irrevocable. If you elect to make this transfer, you no longer participate in the variable account, and you will not receive a variable annuity at retirement. You will also have one opportunity at retirement to transfer the money in your variable account into your regular account.

Can I change my contributions into the variable account?

As a sitting judge with a variable account, you also have the option of changing your contribution into the variable account. You can choose to place 25 percent, 50 percent, or 75 percent of employee contributions into the variable account or cancel all future contributions on the PERS: Judge Member Variable Annuity Program Participation form. All changes become effective January 1 following the year in which PERS receives your request, regardless of when the form is received.

When participating in the Variable Annuity Program during retirement, PERS adjusts the variable portion of your benefit every February 1. It is adjusted based on earnings or losses for the 12-month period ending October 31 of the prior year.

Where can I get more help?

The PERS judge member coordinator is happy to answer any questions about your PERS retirement benefits and can be contacted via phone, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., at 503-603-7507; or by email at PERS.Judge.COUNSELOR@pers.state.or.us. ​​​